Breaking News: Visconti Drops Out, Endorses Foley

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

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

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

WRITE- IN V1

 

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

Democracy Hypocrisy

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Or as Frederick Douglas said,

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

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

Forgive them, for they know not what they do – Not!

Read my lips…No New Taxes!

“Both Democratic Gov. Dannel P. Malloy and his Republican challenger Tom Foley said they will not increase taxes… (CT NewsJunkie)

When Governor Dannel “Dan” Malloy took office he faced a $3.6 billion dollar deficit.

As result of budget gimmicks, the use of one-time revenue and his failure to require the wealthy to pay their fair share in income taxes, the candidate for governor that is elected next month will have to manage a $4.8 billion dollar deficit over the next three fiscal years, including at least a $1.4 billion shortfall in next year’s state budget.

But rather than tell voters the truth about Connecticut’s fiscal situation at last night’s WFSB candidate debate, both Malloy and Foley reiterated their promise not to raise taxes over the next four years.  Their pledges come despite the fact that both of these politicians know that there is absolutely no way to balance the state budget without additional revenue.

Both Malloy and Foley say that, if elected, they will not raise taxes, not cut vital services, not reduce the state workforce and will not need to negotiate contract changes with state employees.

The notion that such campaign promises could be met is not only laughable but it is a sad commentary on how far from the truth Connecticut’s gubernatorial candidates will stray in their ongoing efforts to get elected.

Malloy and Foley’s claim that they will “flat fund” the state budget purposely overlooks the fact that the state budget will grow by at least half a billion dollars next year including an additional $330 million for debt service as a result of Malloy’s excessive state borrowing and $170 million in increased payments to the pension and healthcare funds.

If Malloy and Foley were being honest with voters they’d be saying that if they win, they will need to raise taxes, cut services, transfer costs to the cities and towns and negotiate contract changes with state employees.

However, as appalling as the candidate’s performances were in last night’s debate, the award for “anti-democracy” goes to WFSB for excluding or agreeing to exclude Joe Visconti, the petitioning candidate for governor, from the event.

According to the CT Newsjunkie article, “WFSB officials didn’t include him because he didn’t receive 10 percent support in the last public poll.”

A candidate needs to get 10% in the polls to attend a debate?

Wait, What?

WFSB, in conjunction with the two major party candidates, banned Visconti from the stage despite the fact that he collected the requisite 7,500 signatures and will be listed as a gubernatorial candidate on this year’s ballot.  Although it should irrelevant at this point, Visconti also received 7 percent of the projected vote in the last public opinion poll.  That translates to over 70,000 Connecticut voters saying they will vote for the 3rd party candidate.

The decision by WFSB and the Democratic and Republican candidates to hold a debate without Visconti is nothing short of an insult to every voter in Connecticut.  Connecticut has been traditionally known as the Constitution State but to refuse to allow a certified 3rd party candidate to participate in the televised debate violates the most basic tenets of our democracy.

Rather than exclude 3rd party candidates, WFSB and other broadcasters have an obligation to open up access for their viewers.  As WFSB knows,

“Broadcasters have an obligation to serve the public’s interests, not just their own commercial interests. The government provides broadcasters free and exclusive access to a portion of the public airwaves – “spectrum” – for broadcasting. These profitable licenses come in exchange for broadcasters’ commitment to serve the “public interest, convenience, or necessity.”

Preventing a certified candidate for governor from participating in the televised debate should be viewed as a violation of WFSB’s broadcasting license.

Tea Party tells Joe Visconti to drop out of the race for governor…

The Hartford Courant has a story on their blog entitled, Tea Party Ups Call for Joe Visconti to Exit the Governor’s Race,

In a response to such an attack, Joe Visconti is certainly more than capable of deciding, on his own, what is best for the people of Connecticut and the issues that he believes in.  I will just say that I can certainly relate, having also been the victim of the anti-democracy attacks from those claiming to “share” my values.

As the Hartford Courant is reporting,

Tea party activists in Connecticut are reiterating their call for petitioning candidate Joe Visconti to get out of the governor’s race.

“While we admire and respect your efforts, and those of your dedicated volunteers, if you continue in this race, you do so without the support of the majority of tea party, conservative and grassroots groups,” tea party activists wrote in an open letter to Visconti posted on Facebook. The letter was signed by several prominent leaders in the conservative movement in the state including Wallingford attorney Tanya Bachand and Bob MacGuffie, founder of Right Principles.

The Courant adds,

Visconti’s response, posted on his own Facebook page, suggest he isn’t going anywhere. “Sad to see you all sell out to the establishment that you once castigated,” he wrote.

And finally article concludes with,

(Interestingly one of those jumping to Visconti’s defense is Hartford lawyer Ken Krayeske. “[F]rom Tea Party patriots who purport to represent and hold dear constitutional values, like the First Amendment, this is an astonishing, hypocritical statement of values,” Krayeske commented. “And thank you, Mr. Visconti, for enduring despite such unfounded critiques of your candidacy.”)

I want to take the opportunity to echo Attorney Krayeske’s comments and add that it is a sad commentary on the corporatization of America that not only do Democratic and Republican leaders claim to support our democracy and then decry the impact of third parties and third party candidates, but that forces from the so-called “right” and “left” are just as disingenuous.

The fact that “Tea Party Patriots” would urge someone not to stand up, speak out and run for office is as absurd as the “social justice lobbyist” who used a Hartford Courant commentary piece to urge liberals not to sign my petition or the actions of unions like the American Federation of Teachers who would not even allow me to fill out a questionnaire, interview with the AFT endorsing committee or speak to their executive committee before endorsing Governor Malloy, the only Democratic governor in the nation to propose eliminating teacher tenure and repealing collective bargaining for teachers in the poorest schools districts.

Claiming to “speak for their members” the AFT endorsed Malloy, despite the fact that he remains committed to a teacher evaluation system that includes the use of unfair, inappropriate and absurd standardized test scores when determining whether a teacher is doing a good job or not.

Over the course of the last few months I’ve had the honor of sitting down and talking with Joe Visconti.

Although we come from very different philosophical foundations, and disagree on some fundamentally important issues, there is no question in my mind that he understands what is going on out here in the real world, that he profoundly respects the role of teachers and public education, that he would confront the ongoing effort to destroy the middle class and that he has the honesty and integrity to tell the citizens of Connecticut the truth about the fiscal crisis that we face as a result of the irresponsible policies of the two major political parties.

By urging Joe Visconti to drop out of the race for governor, Connecticut’s Tea Party leaders reveal that they are just as much a part of the problem as the incumbency parties that have shown, beyond a reasonable doubt, that they are incapable (or unwilling) to do what is right for the citizens of our nation and our state.

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

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

CEA Education Forum 2014 – September 13, 2014

The Connecticut Education Association will be holding their forum with the gubernatorial candidates on Saturday, September 13, 2014 with a follow up CEA Political Action Committee meeting scheduled for September 17, 2014.

Having fallen short on the number of signatures needed to qualify for the November ballot, I will not be participating, but I do know the CEA endorsement process includes giving candidates a questionnaire and allowing them an opportunity so speak and answer questions, all before the CEA leadership endorses a candidate.  It is certainly an improvement over the AFT-CT’s “candidate endorsement” process.  In their case, they refused to allow candidates to fill out a questionnaire, interview with the PAC committee or even address the executive committee before they endorsed Dannel Malloy, the most anti-teacher Democratic governor in the country.  They have since provided him with even more member dues to help pay for his misleading campaign ads.

There are many questions that should be asked of the candidates for governor, but here are a few that will hopefully be asked at Saturday’s forum.

Question #1:  TENURE

Governor Dannel Malloy is the only Democratic governor in the nation to propose doing away with tenure for all public school teachers and repealing collective bargaining for teachers in the lowest performing public schools. 

To date, Mr. Malloy has not renounced his anti-tenure proposal.

In response to Malloy’s remark that public school teachers need only show up for four years and they’ll get tenure, Malloy recently told the audience at the Norwich Bulletin Candidate Debate, “I should admit that was bad language. It wasn’t about them. It was about tenure… I shouldn’t have said it. I apologize for saying it.’”

Apparently as late as this month, Governor Malloy is saying that his anti-teacher statement wasn’t meant to denigrate teachers but was meant to disparage tenure?

Q:  What is your position on teacher tenure?

Question #2:  TEACHER EVALUATION

Governor Malloy’s education reform initiative requires teacher evaluation programs to be linked to standardized test scores despite the fact that academic resources show that standardized tests scores are primarily influenced by poverty, language barriers, and the lack of special education services for students rather than teacher performance.  On the other hand, there are multiple teacher evaluation programs around the country that do not tie teacher evaluations to unfair, inappropriate and misleading standardized test results.

Q:  Will you commit to decoupling teacher evaluation programs from standardized test scores and replacing the present plan with one that actually ties teacher evaluation to factors that successfully measure teacher performance?

Question #3:  CCJEF SCHOOL FUNDING LAWSUIT

Connecticut’s present Education Cost Sharing Formula is outdated and inadequate.  In fact, Connecticut’s present school funding formula fails to meet the provisions of Connecticut’s Constitution.  The state’s failure to revamp its school funding system has led to the CCJEV v. Rell school finance lawsuit.  As Mayor of Stamford, Governor Malloy was one of the original plaintiffs in this critically important case, but as governor, he has spent the last four years trying to get the case dismissed and then postponed until after this year’s election.

Q:  Will you commit to settling the CCJEF v. Rell lawsuit and use the CCFEF Coalition’s expertise to fix Connecticut’s broken school funding system.

Question #4:  EXISTING SCHOOL FUNDING

Over the past four years, state funding for privately-run charter schools has increased by 73.6% [from $53 million to $92 million], while Connecticut’s public school districts were provided with a 7.9% increase in support.  Virtually all of the new funding was allocated to the state’s 30 alliance districts (with major strings attached).  The result has been a loss of local control for Connecticut’s poorest towns and no meaningful support for middle-class towns that have become even more reliant on regressive local property taxes.

Q:  Since shifting to a new funding system will take time, as governor, how will you handle school funding during in the short term?

Question #5:  COMMON CORE AND THE COMMON CORE TESTING SCHEME

The Common Core and its associated massive Common Core Testing Scheme has become particularly controversial.  The state, local school districts, teachers, students and parents are being faced with rapidly adopting an extremely expensive, educationally questionable system.

Q:  Can you outline your opinion on the Common Core and Standardized Testing?      

Question #6:  COMMISSIONER OF EDUCATION

Commissioner Stefan Pryor has announced that he will be leaving his position at the end of 2014.  Mr. Pryor’s tenure has been steeped in controversy, due in part to his commitment to the corporate education reform agenda, his leadership style and his relationship with charter schools, most directly with Achievement First, Inc., the charter school management company that has been the largest single financial beneficiary of state funds to charter schools over the past four years.

Q:  As Governor, what type of person would you appoint as Commissioner of Education and can you give us some names of people you think would be worthy of your consideration?

Question #7:  MANAGING THE STATE DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION

Over the past four years, the Department of Education has been restructured.  Commissioner Pryor upended the Department’s “turnaround office” by eliminating the Leaders in Residence Program, removing three experienced former  Connecticut superintendents and four other expert administrators, as well as transfer out a number of nationally-recognized experts including one in English as a Second Language, one in Multi-cultural Education and one in School Climate and Bullying.  In their place, these tasks were outsourced to an inexperienced, out-of-state company for nearly $2 million dollars.  In addition, a series of other no-bid contracts were given to other out-of-state companies to perform tasks in which Connecticut expertise was available.

Q:  As Governor, what would be your vision for the State Department of Education and what is would be your approach to outside contracting?

There are many more questions that should be asked as well, please feel free to add them to the list:

For whom the bell tolls…

With Election Day less than nine weeks away, Connecticut teachers, parents and public school advocates continue to wait for an indication as to whether any of the candidates for governor will truly stand up against the tide of the corporate education reform industry, including their absurd, unfair and expensive Common Core testing scheme.

Tens of thousands of votes hang in the balance.

The growing anger and frustration about the corporate takeover of public schools extends well beyond Connecticut.

However, as teachers and public education supporters know, Connecticut is home to the only Democratic Governor in the United States to propose doing away with teacher tenure and repealing collective bargaining in some of Connecticut’s poorest school districts.

The uncomfortable reality is that the corporate education reform industry is equally aggressive in other states across the country.

In Iowa, Richard Doak, the Des Moines Register’s two-time Pulitzer Prize nominee and former editorial page editor recently critiqued Iowa’s incumbent Republican governor Terry Branstad by writing,

“In Iowa and throughout the nation, education “reform” is being driven not by parents and educators but by business leaders. The stated purpose of the reforms is to produce a better labor pool for businesses and make the state and country more economically competitive.

The change in thinking about education in this country has been subtle but profound. The original purpose of public education was to create an enlightened citizenry that would sustain democracy. Now the purpose is to turn out educated workers who have the knowledge employers want.

The extent to which education and other functions of government have been co-opted by the business community is a huge untold story in this country. America is well on its way to becoming a nation of corporate interests, by corporate interests and for corporate interests.”

The editorial could just have easily been written about Connecticut’s incumbent Democrat Governor Dannel “Dan’ Malloy.

With Election Day fast approaching, now is the time for Connecticut’s gubernatorial candidates to clarify where the stand;

Do they stand with Connecticut’s students, teachers, parents, public school advocates and taxpayers or will they continue to turn our public schools into little more than testing factories and money pits for an industry that is gorging itself on scarce taxpayer funds while undermining the role of teachers, parents and the local control of public education.

Candidates:  Speak up or you may just find that when it comes to your electoral future, the bell tolls for thee.

Gubernatorial Debates:  Ask questions that matter.

On Wednesday, August, 27th, 2014, the Norwich Bulletin newspaper will host the first of the 2014 gubernatorial debates.  Ray Hackett, the Bulletin’s editorial page editor will moderate the debate.

For reasons that I can’t seem to wrap my head around, Democratic Gov. Dannel P. Malloy, and Republican challenger Tom Foley are the only gubernatorial candidates that have been invited to participate in this 2014 debate, which will take place at the Slater Museum auditorium on the campus of Norwich Free Academy. Doors open at 6 p.m.

Joe Visconti, who has successfully petitioned onto the November ballot, will be prohibited from participating.

In addition, it appears that the only way to attend the debate is to get one of two hundred tickets, half of which have been provided to the Malloy campaign and the half to the Foley campaign.

Although I may not be on the list, hopefully the future gubernatorial debates will include all of the candidates who have qualified to be on the November ballot.

The debates provide a unique opportunity to ask the candidates the difficult questions that voters deserve to have answered.

If I was a participant in the debates, one of the questions that I would have asked the other candidates is the following:

Governor Malloy:  You are the only Democratic Governor in the United States who has proposed doing away with teacher tenure and repealing collective bargaining for teachers in turnaround schools.  While public school advocates and teachers have criticized you for saying a teacher need only show up for four years and they’ll get tenure, but that is a minor complaint compared to your proposal to actually do away with teacher tenure and repeal collective bargaining for a subset of public school teachers.

Mr. Malloy, will you use this moment to renounce your 2012 proposal and can you tell us exactly what is your position on teacher tenure and collective bargaining?

 

Mr. Foley/Mr. Visconti:  Governor Malloy earned the wrath of teachers and public school advocates when he proposed, in 2012, to do away with teacher tenure for all public school teachers and collective bargaining for teachers in the lowest performing schools.  Can you tell us whether you would have supported or opposed Governor Malloy’s proposal to end teacher tenure and limit collective bargaining and what you would do on these two issues if you are elected governor.

If it turns out that I am not on the ballot this year, and therefore cannot participate in the debates, I hope the moderators will ask the candidates these and other important questions.

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