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

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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

 

Pelto Statement on falling short of the 7,500 signatures needed to get on the ballot

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Later today, the Connecticut Secretary of State’s Office is expected to officially announce that the Jonathan Pelto/Ebony Murphy ticket did not collect the 7,500 certified signatures needed to qualify for a position on the 2014 gubernatorial ballot.

On behalf of the Pelto/Murphy campaign, Jonathan Pelto has released the following statement;

“We are, of course, deeply disappointed that we were unable to collect a sufficient number of signatures to qualify as 3rd party candidates for governor and lt. governor.  While we failed to achieve that critical goal, we’re hopeful that our effort has and will continue to spur a more serious discussion about the critically important issues facing Connecticut.

I want to especially thank Ebony Murphy for agreeing to serve as my running-mate, the hundreds of people who helped collect signatures and the thousands of people who signed our petition.  We are also especially grateful to those who provided the campaign with their financial support.

I apologize to all of our supporters for our inability to get onto the ballot, but want to assure them and the citizens of Connecticut that we will continue to stand up and speak out about the problems facing our state and our society and the solutions that will be necessary to ensure a better future of all of our state’s residents.

The petitioning process was an eye opening one.  While requiring candidates to collect 7,500 signatures to qualify for a position on the gubernatorial ballot continues to seem like a reasonable number, the primitive and burdensome laws and archaic system clearly serve as an unfair barrier to those who believe our democratic system would be better served if voters had more choices when they go to vote.

In the coming months we’ll seek to partner with other 3rd parties, their supporters and those who believe in a more open and democratic process so that we can develop and advocate for a legislative package that will reduce the unfair aspects of the petitioning process and create a more open, democratic system of campaigns and elections.

I also want to offer a special thank you to Connecticut’s reporters and media for providing us with fair and extensive coverage of our campaign.

Finally, a special word of congratulations goes out to Joe Visconti, the other 3rd party candidate, who, along with his team of supporters, did a remarkable job collecting the signatures necessary to get on the ballot.  Joe has shown that the People can challenge the incumbency parties and, shake up the establishment.  I wish him continued success as he speaks out on the issues he is so passionate about.”

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Highlights and Lowlights of the Pelto/Murphy 2014 campaign continue to grow

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Kicked off by yesterday’s Wait, Wait? Blog post, the Hartford Courant’s Chris Keating wrote a news update entitled, “Breaking: Pelto Fears He Will Not Reach 7,500 Signatures To Get On Ballot.”

Keating began his article with the following,

In a potential political boost for Gov. Dannel P. Malloy, liberal Democrat Jonathan Pelto told The Hartford Courant on Saturday that he fears he will not reach the necessary threshold to qualify for the gubernatorial ballot in November.

Pelto has threatened to go to court to gain a place on the gubernatorial ballot against Malloy, Republican Tom Foley, and petitioning candidate Joseph Visconti, but Pelto said in an interview that a potential court fight on disputed signatures might be fruitless if he is not close enough to the threshold.

“It’s not looking good,” Pelto said Saturday. “I am increasingly concerned the situation is starting to look grim. It is clear that we submitted far fewer petitions than I had expected. … I may be wrong. But for the first time, I think we may fall short.”

The news article goes on to explore the issues and challenges surrounding what may be our failed effort to qualify for a position on the November gubernatorial ballot.

You can read the original Wait, What? blog here: http://jonathanpelto.com/2014/08/23/youre-rightyou-just-can-make-sht/

And the Hartford Courant story here:  http://courantblogs.com/capitol-watch/breaking-pelto-fears-he-will-not-reach-7500-signatures/

As a candidate for governor over the past few months, I’ve been honored and humbled to hear some amazing complements, along with some pretty harsh insults.

I have to say, after striving to serve as an outspoken supporter of Connecticut public school teachers and state employees over the last four years, in addition my pro-collective bargaining, pro-labor, pro-state employee, pro-teacher voting record when I served as a state legislator more than two decades ago; I was deeply offended when the AFL-CIO refused to allow me to address the delegates at their summer endorsing convention and when the President of the Connecticut Chapter of the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) refused to allow me to fill out a candidate questionnaire, to have an interview with their political action committee or even address their executive committee before they endorsed Governor Malloy.

I was equally stunned, although more hurt than anything else, when the leadership of the Connecticut Education Association prohibited me from collecting signatures outside of their Summer Leadership Conference earlier this month.  Their claim was that allowing me to collect signatures from CEA members would be perceived as an unfair advantage.

Ironically, during the entire campaign, the CEA was the only public or private organization that prohibited me from collecting signatures at an event.

Although all of these situations were real “eye-openers,” they are “water of the dam” and there is no use “crying over spilt milk.”

Besides, to be honest, they have been replaced by two more remarkable reader comments that appear at the end of the aforementioned Hartford Courant article.

While some of the reader comments add perspective to the story, there is Dan who writes, “Did Malloy and/ or his Demon Cronies Pay him off ???”

Followed by Charles who ponders the hundreds of rejected petition signatures asking, “How many wee undocumented immirants?”

I have to say, regardless of whether we do or do not qualify for a position on the ballot, those two comments, along with many of these other experiences. will make the whole episode truly unforgettable.

Oh and just in case there is any doubt – Ah, Dan, the answer is no.

And Charles, if you can describe to me what an “undocumented immigrant” looks like, I’ll try to remember if we saw 900 of them lining up to illegally sign our petitions.

And to Dan and Charles, I urge you to look up the quote that Pogo provided us many years ago.

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

Malloy misleads teachers, parents, public school advocates and taxpayers – again!

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Pelto Media Statement in Response to Governor Malloy’s Press Release:  GOV. MALLOY: MILLIONS IN ADDITIONAL FUNDING WILL ASSIST STRUGGLING SCHOOL DISTRICTS

Malloy misleads teachers, parents, public school advocates and taxpayers – again!

Governor Dannel “Dan” Malloy and his Commissioner of Education, Stefan Pryor, just issued a press release that began with the following:

HARTFORD, CT) — Governor Dannel P. Malloy, joined by Commissioner of Education Stefan Pryor, today hat Alliance Districts are set to receive a total of $132,901,813 in additional funding for the 2014-15 academic year to help implement academic improvement plans.  To date, 28 of 30 Alliance District Year Three plan amendments have been approved, with the final approvals expected in the coming weeks.

In typical fashion, the Governor and Commissioner of Education have used their announcement as a way to further mislead Connecticut’s teachers, parents, public school advocates and taxpayers.

Malloy claims that his “initiative” is providing Connecticut’s 30 most struggling school districts with another $132 million in state aid, but the truth is that this year’s increase is only about $45 million and that in order to get those funds, school districts were required to accept a series of new mandates and programs aimed at further implementing Malloy’s corporate education reform agenda and diverting scarce public dollars to private companies.

For example, some of the new money is being used to pay for pet projects such as Achievement First, Inc.’s “Residency Program for School Leadership.”

As Connecticut has come to know, Achievement First, Inc. is the charter school management company co-founded by Malloy’s Commissioner of Education, Stefan Pryor.

And thanks to Malloy and Pryor, Achievement First, Inc. has received more new funding than any other charter school operator in Connecticut.

While most school districts in Connecticut have effectively been flat funded, Achievement First, Inc. has benefited from a massive increase in per pupil funding, more charter school seats, and additional resources from various grants that were once reserved for Connecticut’s real public schools.

And if that windfall wasn’t enough, hidden inside this so-called “new” money for Connecticut’s poorer school districts is yet another special deal for Achievement First, Inc.

Note that in today’s press release, Malloy and Stefan Pryor brag about how 28 or the 30 “Alliance District Year Three Plans” have been approved.

What Malloy and Pryor don’t explain is that in order to get approved, towns were required to include certain education reform initiatives, including forcing Connecticut’s largest school districts to participate in Achievement First, Inc.’s “Residency Program for School Leadership.

As part of the program, Connecticut taxpayers will not only pay Achievement First, Inc., for their “services,” but Connecticut school teachers, paid for by Connecticut taxpayer funds, will be sent to teach in Achievement First schools.  This means that in addition to paying the charter school chain $11,500 per student, paying for all of their transportation costs and all of their special education costs, Achievement First, Inc. will be will be further subsidized thanks to having taxpayer-funded public school teachers working in their privately-run charter schools.

Achievement First, Inc. calls their “Residency Program” a “unique opportunity.”

There is no doubt about that, it is a unique opportunity for Achievement First to get more of our public funds.

When more and more questions are being raised about the lack of oversight of Connecticut’s charter schools, Governor Malloy and Commissioner Pryor are diverting record amounts of public money to charter schools.

While Malloy claims he is investing another $132 million into Connecticut’s poorest schools, the truth is that Connecticut taxpayers are being forced to waste even more money on Malloy’s failed education reform policies.

All this while our public school students continue to be left without the support they need and deserve.

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

Stefan Pryor Not Serving a 2nd Term as State Ed Chief

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From the Hartford Courant;

Stefan Pryor, the controversial state education commissioner, will leave his post and is “actively seeking new professional opportunities,” according to Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s office.

Pryor informed the governor Monday that he will not serve a second term. “Having served for nearly three fulfilling years as commissioner, I have decided to conclude my tenure by the end of this administration’s current term and to pursue new professional opportunities,” Pryor said. “Because I believe it’s important to communicate my decision proactively to the governor and the public, I am doing so now.”

The following is a media statement released by Jonathan Pelto, Candidate for Governor, Education and Democracy Party.

Pryor’s departure is great news for Connecticut’s public school students, parents, teachers and taxpayers

”Governor Dannel “Dan” Malloy’s decision to send Education Commissioner Stefan Pryor packing is long overdue, but it is still great news for Connecticut’s  public school students, parents, teachers and taxpayers.

As a leading proponent of the corporate education reform industry, Stefan Pryor and his team of anti-teacher, pro-standardized testing, privatization zealots have done immeasurable harm to Connecticut’s public education system.

While Governor Malloy remains the only Democratic governor in the nation to propose doing away with teacher tenure and repealing collective bargaining for teachers in so called ‘turnaround schools,” one would hope that he is finally recognizing that his anti-teacher, pro-charter school, pro-Common Core agenda is bad news for Connecticut public schools or, at the very least, a political disaster for him has he aspires to a second term in office.

When it comes to actually supporting Connecticut’s public schools, Malloy’s true intentions remain unknown, but Pryor’s departure is a small step in the right direction.”

 

You can read more about this breaking story at:

http://courantblogs.com/capitol-watch/stefan-pryor-not-serving-a-2nd-term-as-state-ed-chief/

http://www.ctnewsjunkie.com/archives/entry/pryor_wont_stay_for_second_term/

http://ctmirror.org/stefan-pryor-to-leave-education-post-after-one-term/

http://blog.ctnews.com/dixon/2014/08/18/controversial-education-commissioner-stefan-pryor-is-on-the-way-out/

 

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

You call this a Democracy?

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During the next week or so, Connecticut’s Secretary of State will determine whether the Jonathan Pelto/Ebony Murphy ticket will appear on the 2014 ballot for governor.

Over the last eight weeks, hundreds of volunteers sent countless hours collecting more than the 7,500 signatures necessary to ensure that voters have an option other than voting for Dannel “Dan’ Malloy or Tom Foley in this year’s gubernatorial election.  Supporters of 3rd party candidate Joe Visconti were doing the same thing over the last couple of months.

The deadline for submitting petitions was August 6, 2014.  As required by state law, Connecticut’s 169 Town Clerks (often delegated to local Democratic and Republican registrars of voters) have two weeks to process those petitions and certify to the Secretary of the State how many “good signatures” each candidate has obtained.  Good signatures meaning signatures from actual registered voters.

A candidate collecting at least 7,500 signatures from Connecticut voters qualifies to be on the November ballot.

In one of the most interesting moments of the campaign so far, Governor Malloy recent told the New Haven Register Editorial Board that he had “serious doubts’ that Pelto will clear the hurdle by collecting the necessary 7,500 signatures of registered voters.”

Have Malloy’s political operatives been to the Secretary of the State’s office to “help” count the signatures?

Have Malloy’s people reached out to Connecticut’s 169 Town Clerks or local Democratic registrars of voters?

Is Malloy a clairvoyant?

Or is Governor Dannel Malloy admitting to the fact that Connecticut’s petitioning process is rigged to make it virtually impossible for 3rd party candidates to get on the ballot?

A recent visit to the Secretary of the State’s Office to review some of the Pelto/Murphy petitions that have already been processed provided a unique opportunity to see how the system really works.

Readers who have seen a candidate petition know that the form includes a column for the voter to sign his or her name, a column for them to write their name, a column to list their birthdate and a column to list their address.

However, the law only requires that, “A signator shall print his name on said line following the signing of the signator’s name.”

According to Connecticut law and the instructions from the Secretary of the State’s office, listing one’s birthday is entirely optional and the address is only provided to help identify that the person signing is actually a voter in that community.

Connecticut state law goes on to state, “Such town clerk shall certify…which names were on the registry list last-completed or are names of persons admitted as electors since the completion of such list. In the checking of signatures on such nominating petition pages, the town clerk shall reject any name if such name is not the name of an elector as specified above…The town clerk shall not reject any name for which the street address on the petition is different from the street address on the registry list, if (1) such person is eligible to vote for the candidate or candidates named in the petition, and (2) the person’s date of birth, as shown on the petition page, is the same as the date of birth on the person’s registration record.”

Under Connecticut’s Constitution and Connecticut law, elected officials must make every attempt to recognize the intent of the voter.

But incredibly, a recent review of names rejected by town clerks reveal that a number of names on the Pelto/Murphy petition were illegally rejected because they did not write down their birthday, despite the fact that the birthday is completely optional.

In other cases, names were illegally rejected because while the addresses didn’t match, the birthdays did and the signatures should have been counted.

Connecticut law further states, “The use of titles, initials or customary abbreviations of given names by the signer of a nominating petition shall not invalidate such signature if the identity of the signer can be readily established by reference to the signature on the petition and the name of a person as it appears on the last-completed registry list at the address indicated or of a person who has been admitted as an elector since the completion of such list.”

However, once again, a review of some of the petitions certified by town clerks show that signatures were rejected even though it is obvious, thanks to the address and the birthdate, that the person who signed the petitions is, in fact, a voter.

Finally, an initial review of some of the petitions revealed that a number of town clerks (or registrars of voters) rejected signatures because the signer was on the town’s “inactive” voter list.

State law does allow towns to maintain an active and inactive voter list, with the inactive voter list containing people who are still voters but who have not participated in recent elections or failed to return a postcard to the local registrar of voters.  But an “inactive” voter who shows up at the polls must be allowed to vote and an absentee ballot submitted by someone on the “inactive” voter list must be counted.

But despite the fact that signing a Pelto/Murphy petition is a legally authorized part of the voting process, some local town clerks and registrars illegally rejected any signatures from voters on the “inactive” voter list.

To these and other violations of state law by town clerks and registrars, the Secretary of the States attorney’s only advice was for the Pelto/Murphy ticket to sue should these violations prevent it from qualifying for the November ballot.

The entire situation makes one wonder if we are living in the United States or Putin’s Russia?

Even more to the point, it is a sad commentary about the health of our democracy that here in the Constitution State, state and local officials are stripping Connecticut voters of their constitutional and legal rights.

It is equally appalling that the Governor of Connecticut, who is sworn to uphold our State Constitution, so quickly dismisses the situation by saying that he “he has “serious doubts” that the Pelto/Murphy team will collect the 7,500 signatures of to get on the ballot.”

Any governor, even when challenged, should stand up for the Constitutional rights of his or her citizens.  Winning may be important, but Governor Malloy should look in the mirror and remember that there are some things even more important than winning.

[In closing, let me add a personal note.  I remain confident that despite the barriers that are being thrown up before us, that Ebony and I have collected the required 7,500 signatures that we need to be on the ballot in November.  Although we hope it won’t come to this, if legal action is necessary to ensure that the constitutional rights of Connecticut voters are protected against the powers of the incumbency and the incumbency system, we will take whatever legal actions are necessary to ensure that democracy in Connecticut is not crushed by illegal or political maneuvers.

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

Lieutenant Governor Hopeful Ebony Murphy on Education and the Wealth Gap

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“I chose Ebony Murphy to be my Lt. Governor because she has the knowledge, skills and ability to be a true and equal partner as we work to put Connecticut back on track and develop effective policies that will ensure that all of our state’s residents have the opportunity to live their lives to the fullest.

A government that fails to treat its citizens with honesty, respect and dignity has lost its right to serve and we intend to put Connecticut on the list of governments that are truly dedicated to fulfilling our obligation of making the ‘American Dream’ a reality rather than a withering hope. – Jonathan Pelto

The following interview with Ebony was published in the August, 6 2014 edition of Hartford’s Northend Agent’s.  The informative paper can be read at: http://www.northendagents.com/.

In the article written by Tiffani Jones and entitled, “Lieutenant Governor Hopeful Ebony Murphy on Education and the Wealth Gap,” the voters of Connecticut have an opportunity to read more about Ebony Murphy, the Education and Democracy Party’s candidate for Lt. Governor.

Tiffani Jones writes,

Connecticut politics have been heating up as candidates lobby to get on the ballot or get re-elected to office this election year. Each has a bulleted list of ideas about how they propose to ‘save the state’, what’s currently lacking in Connecticut and what they promise to prioritize if elected; and Hartford resident Ebony Murphy is no exception. Murphy, who’s running for the office of Lieutenant Governor (along with running mate Jonathan Pelto) as a potential third-party candidate, caused quite the stir earlier this summer when she filed paperwork to get on the ballot for this upcoming November’s election.

When Connecticut media outlets read the tagline of Ebony Murphy’s inactive blog, they immediately honed in on the fact that she, jokingly, self-identified as an ‘Uppity Negress’. Though Ebony, who is Black, hasn’t filled the blog with any content, the ‘About’ section lists her academic accomplishments, teaching credentials, and all the community outreach and volunteer work she’s done in Hartford. Ebony’s tagline also lists the fact that she’s a feminist, ‘Teamster’s kid’, a ‘Literacy Visionary’ and a ‘Big sister’, but ‘Uppity Negress’ is what Neil Vigdor immediately honed in on, in a June article in the CT Post.

When I spoke to Ebony about the CT Post piece, she said that Neil Vigdor (who she described as a political reporter who writes from a “conservative angle”) asked her about the blog’s tagline and that she’d confirmed that she was being tongue-in-cheek. She said the conversation was a pleasant one, so she was “surprised” by the tone of Neil’s CT Post article. But alas, Ebony Murphy seemed unfazed by the mild rumble she caused right out the gate, and chalked it up to being par for the course for young, Black, ambitious women who often receive pushback as a consequence for being outspoken and driven in their endeavors.

“A progressive Hartford activist named David Samuels called me a token who’s taking [her] marching orders from [her] running mate,” Ebony chuckled. “There’s always this tone of ‘who do you think you are?’ from people. I get pushback from conservatives and progressives. It’s amusing and it reminds me of the time I was in high school doing well at a track meet, and someone [sarcastically] said to me, ‘You sure have big plans for yourself, don’t you?’”

“Society can be indignant towards women with goals,” Ebony continued. “We pretend to be post-racial, but add race to the equation, and there will be pushback when people see ambitious Black women. It’s just the way it is.”

Ebony noted a parallel between herself and Coalition and CT Republican party consultant, Regina Roundtree, who was fired by the Penny Bacchiochi for Lt. Governor campaign after complaining about white privilege on Facebook.

“We’re diametrically opposed politically, yet treated similarly,” she said.

Push-back, skeptics and accusations of she and her running mate being two-party ‘spoilers’ notwithstanding, Ebony Murphy, who’s running under the Democracy Party, seems up to the task of helping enact change in Connecticut and is part of a growing number of educators who refuse to remain silent about the achievement gap, corporate entities’ disdain for teachers and the charter school problem. Last year, Murphy wrote an incendiary piece about her experiences working at Capital Prep under the supervision of controversial charter school advocate and CEO, Dr. Steve Perry. The piece was published to several highly read education sites, including Jonathan Pelto’s blog, Diane Ravitch’s site, and to the National Education Policy Center’s site.

“Jonathan and I are concerned about equitable school funding, well-funded schools, and alternative ways to fund schools,”

Ebony said.

“People who grow up [here] locally should be able to afford the cost of living. The achievement gap is explicitly connected to poverty. Folks like Dr. Steve Perry and Michelle Rhee tell us otherwise. Perry has never been a teacher or taught in a classroom, ever,” she emphasizes. “Poverty does affect the classroom experience. And in light of what’s going on with Terrence Carter, Jumoke Academy, Paul Vallas, and Steven Adamowski, the most credentialed people are being shut out.”

As to the question about why Connecticut is one of the richest states in the country, but has such a wide wealth and achievement gap and poor job market, Ebony considered it a bit before positing,

“The wealthy in Connecticut is comprised of old-money. There are also newer transplants that come here from wealthy backgrounds; you see a lot of generational poverty reflected, as well.”

Ebony Murphy acknowledges that she and Jonathan Pelto have their work cut out for them and concedes that it’s difficult for candidates outside of the two-party system to get their message out there. Murphy believes that there are a great number of people (possibly state workers and union leaders) who support her and her running mate’s platform, but that they are afraid of being too open in showing their support, for fear of retaliation: such as running afoul of Governor Dannel Malloy and losing their jobs.

Whether Ebony Murphy, and her running mate Jonathan Pelto, have what it takes to engage voters and get Connecticut on track, remains to be seen, as they scramble to get enough signatures to be placed on the ballot. But Ebony was emphatic about Connecticut’s need for competent leaders who will listen to voters’ concerns when making decisions,

“People need to take a look at how they choose their political and educational leaders in the state. Government belongs to the people, not the other way around.”

For more information on the Pelto-Murphy campaign, visit peltomurphy2014.com or Follow campaign progress on Facebook and Twitter.

Tiffani Jones is the creator and writer of Coffee Rhetoric, a blog about women, pop-culture, film and race. A contributor to both print and digital platforms, she has offered commentary on HuffPost Live and WNPR’s Where We Live.

You can find the complete article at: http://www.northendagents.com/lieutenant-governor-hopeful-ebony-murphy-education-wealth-gap/

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

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