September 21, 2017

Essex First Selectman Opposes State Takeover of Local Health Departments, Denounces New Cost to Small Towns; Lyme First Selectman Eno Agrees

The following is a press release from Norm Needleman’s campaign office that we received this morning:

Today, State Senate candidate and local businessman Norm Needleman spoke out against the yet-to-be-announced state takeover of local health departments. Needleman opposes the top-down, behind-the-scenes process which includes the elimination of local health departments, the loss of local control, and increased cost to towns in what amounts to a regional property tax.

The draft changes in Connecticut state statutes were distributed to town Health Directors as “draft Local Health Consolidation Statutes” by the Commissioner of Connecticut Department of Public Health Raul Pino.

“This secret state takeover plan is yet another example of the state barreling down the wrong path without input from towns,” said Needleman. “Forced regionalization is terrible policy and causes more unnecessary over-regulation of towns without any proven cost savings. This is a canary in the coal mine for more state and county control.”

Lyme Republican First Selectman Ralph Eno agreed with Needleman.

“I appreciate Norm’s attention to this key issue,” said Eno. “I agree with his position that this is an administrative overreach without any kind of formal hearing process. This is part of what is wrong with state government.”

The changes propose eliminating local health departments and consolidating them under one board and director for each county.

“In Essex we have an efficient and effective Health Department,” said Needleman. “In what world does it make any sense to turn a well managed town office over to the mess in Hartford?”

In addition, the changes propose that each town pay 1.5% of their budget to the new county health department. The draft legislation states: “towns, cities and boroughs of such district appropriate for the maintenance of the health district not less than one and one half percent of their previous fiscal year’s annual operating budgets.”

“As First Selectman of Essex I have kept our Health Department well under 1.5% of our annual town budget with a professionally managed team,” said Needleman. “This proposal will cost more for towns all across the region and amounts to a county tax. If elected State Senator I will fight foolish state overreach like this takeover.”

“The cost is a percentage of the town budget,” said Eno. “So this is a regional property tax to feed the state bureaucracy. Thanks to Norm for being out ahead on this issue and looking forward to his leadership in the State Senate.”

Norm Needleman is the founder and CEO of Tower Laboratories, a manufacturing business. As CEO, he has built the business over the past 37 years to become a leader in its segment, employing over 225 people. Needleman is in his 3rd term as First Selectman of Essex and was first elected as a Selectman in 2003.

“Norm understands the importance of local control as an experienced town leader,” said Campaign Manager Kevin Coughlin. “That is why he has been endorsed by both Republican and Democratic First Selectmen right here in the 33rd district.”

Needleman is the Democratic candidate for the 33rd State Senate District which consists of the towns of Chester, Clinton, Colchester, Deep River, East Haddam, East Hampton, Essex, Haddam, Lyme, Portland, Westbrook, and part of Old Saybrook.

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Old Lyme Debate Sees Linares, Needleman Disagree Sharply on Some Issues, Agree on Others

Norm Needleman (left) and Art Linares

Essex First Selectman Norm Needleman (left) and Sen. Art Linares answered questions on a variety of topics in last night’s debate.

The candidates vying for the 33rd State Senate District seat met last night in front of a relatively small audience of around 75 in the somewhat rarefied atmosphere of Lyme-Old Lyme High School (LOLHS).  Rarefied because not a single resident of Old Lyme can vote for either candidate since Old Lyme is part of the 20th State Senate District currently represented by Republican Paul Formica.

Nevertheless, The Day and the Eastern CT Chamber of Commerce selected LOLHS as the location for the first debate of the season in the high profile 33rd State Senate race.  Two-term incumbent Sen. Art Linares (R) faced off against challenger Norman Needleman (D), who is in his third term as first selectman of Essex, in a gentlemanly debate conducted entirely from seated positions.

Linares was first elected in 2012 to the 33rd State Senate District seat, which was held for two decades by the late former State Senator Eileen Daily of Westbrook. He won a second term in 2014, defeating Democrat Emily Bjornberg of Lyme on a 22,762-17,326 vote. Needleman was first elected as an Essex Selectman in 2003

Linares&Needleman

The Day’s Editorial Page editor Paul Choiniere (center in photo above) moderated the debate assisted by retired Day Deputy Managing  Editor Lisa McGinley and Day Staff Writer Brian Hallenback.

The constant theme of both candidates’ responses was the need for the state to control spending and to increase jobs, but they expressed different routes towards achieving that goal interspersed with regular jabs against their respective opponent.

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Linares, pictured above, opened the latter theme by saying, “Desperate people do desperate things,” when asked about charges from Needleman that he (Linares) had used constituent names and addresses inappropriately.  Linares said, “They [his opponents] want us to focus on desperate things,” rather than the state’s real problems such as, “Every day we have businesses leaving the state,” declaring emphatically, “I am ready to stand up and fight for you.”

A question about whether the candidates supported the Citizen’s Election Program (CEP) drew one of the most heated exchanges with Linares saying candidates should be encouraged to fund their own election campaigns because, “the CEP is running a deficit year after year.”  Needleman responded immediately, “That’s an absurd and ridiculous statement,” adding that the CEP has proved to be a “leveling-field.”

The issue of a third casino in Connecticut also showed a sharp difference in the candidate’s positions with Linares supporting the proposal in order to “intercept tourists on their way to [the new MGM casino in] Massachusetts,” which he predicted would otherwise take potentially up to $100 million out of state.  Needleman said unequivocally, “I would not support the expansion of casinos in Connecticut.”

Responding to a question about Linares’s March 2016 vote against a measure to reduce the state’s budget deficit, Needleman declared, “That vote pushed me over the edge to run,” and that he was “perplexed,” when he had determined that Linares was one of the three senators who had voted against the proposal.  Linares countered that he had, “stood up against that budget because I knew the next day it would be in deficit,” adding, “We didn’t make the kinds of structural change needed,” concluding firmly, “I’m proud that I stood up against Dan Malloy’s budget.”

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Needleman, pictured above, then accused Linares of being something Needleman confessed he had been described as himself when much younger by a teacher, namely, “A master of the obvious.” Needleman agreed, “We all know now we need structural reform,” but argued, “That stand needed to be taken,” long before the actual vote.

The candidates were in relative harmony regarding the recent Connecticut Supreme Court ruling that education funding needs to be more equitable, both agreeing, in Linares’s words, “The legislature must find a fair and concise way to fund education,” and, in Needleman’s, “The judge should not legislate from the bench.”

Similarly, Needleman and Linares found common ground on the subject of how the state should improve its fiscal position with the former saying that the state needed to “control spending and increase jobs,” while the latter added, “… and end wasteful spending.”

Asked which Presidential candidate they were voting for, Needleman mentioned first, “I’ve never seen an election like this one,” then said, “I support Hilary Clinton … albeit at times, reluctantly.” In turn, Linares stated, “I’m voting for Donald Trump,” adding, “I’m voting Republican down the line this year,” commenting, “Our country and our state needs to change direction.”

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The candidates responded to several further questions including ones about the ease with which the state can sell or swap state-owned land, how the state should create jobs and the state’s response to the opioid crisis.

In his closing statement, Linares said his goal was, “to take Connecticut to the top again,” since under six year of Malloy’s leadership, “”I have seen the state move backwards.”  He explained that Connecticut Republicans have a plan to achieve that objective called, “A Confident Future,” and urged the audience to review it.

Taking his turn, Needleman said, “I started as a cab driver in New York – I have paid my dues,” adding, “Relationships mean everything to me. I am always telling the truth and not reverting to scripted talking points.” He concluded, “Glory has no role for me.”

Norm Needleman had a significant crowd of supporters, who stood outside the High School prior to the debate.

Norm Needleman had a significant crowd of supporters, who stood outside the High School prior to the debate.

Editor’s Note: The 33rd State Senate District consists of the Town of Lyme along with the Towns of Chester, Clinton, Colchester, Deep River, East Haddam, East Hampton, Essex, Haddam, Portland, Westbrook, and part of Old Saybrook.

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Are You Hardwired to Vote for Clinton or Trump? Take a Survey to Help a Researcher Find Out …

survey-image-stock-artPaul D. Tieger, an author and internationally recognized expert on Personality Type and voting behavior, has launched a unique survey, which looks at the 2016 presidential race in an entirely new light  —  how our innate Personality Type may be the stealth factor that determines the next leader of the free world.
 
Why are so many people  —  on the left and the right  —  terrified about the election results? Tieger says he hopes his research will answer this question, among others.
 
This survey only takes about five to six minutes. Results will be published in about two weeks.
 
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Lyme First Selectman Eno (R) Endorses Needleman (D) for State Senate

Lyme First Selectman Ralph Eno (left) today endorsed Essex First Selectman Norm Needleman for State Senator.

Lyme First Selectman Ralph Eno (left) today endorsed Essex First Selectman Norm Needleman for State Senator.  Photo by N.B. Logan.

Yesterday, Lyme Republican First Selectman Ralph Eno endorsed Democratic State Senate Candidate Norm Needleman.

“Although I generally try to avoid all things political, given the state of affairs at the state level, I’ve decided to be more public in terms of of the upcoming state senate race,” said Eno. “Norm has my unequivocal support.”

Eno, a Republican, has served as the first selectman of Lyme since 2007 and, with a brief interlude, for 10 years prior to that.

“Norm has the chief elected official experience at the town level that is crucial to being an effective representative,” Eno continued. “We need more small to mid-level town CEOs in the legislature to stand up to laws in Hartford that have terrible unintended consequences for our towns. His work in the public sector paired with his experience as a tried and true business person gives him a leg up to make sure we have the best possible representation given our state’s budget problems.”

“I am endorsing Norm, who is far and away the most qualified candidate for State Senate,” said Eno. “I know him as a man that is collaborative instead of adversarial. He will not be tethered to his political party. He will work on both sides of the aisle and be a team player. And he will be honest with you even when you disagree.”

Norm Needleman is the founder and CEO of Tower Laboratories, a manufacturing business. As CEO, he has built the business over the past 37 years to become a leader in its segment, employing 150 people at facilities in Essex and Clinton.

“Ralph has been a great example for me on how to run a small town,” said Norm Needleman. “He’s hands on, hard-working, honest, and always involved. He knows what it takes to run a municipality. It means a tremendous amount to me to receive this endorsement from a man I have viewed as a mentor in so many ways.”

Needleman is in his third term as first selectman of Essex and was first elected as a Selectman in 2003.

“This district has 12 towns with a lot in common and Ralph and I share a common perspective,” continued Needleman. “We both understand the perspective of small towns, the importance of home rule, and that we need fewer mandates and rules from Hartford.”

Needleman is challenging incumbent State Senator Art Linares, who is running for a third term and like Eno, is a Republican. Linares was first elected in 2012 to the 33rd State Senate District seat, which was held for two decades by the late former State Senator Eileen Daily of Westbrook. He won a second term in 2014, defeating Democrat Emily Bjornberg of Lyme on a 22,762-17,326 vote.

The 33rd State Senate District consists of the towns of Chester, Clinton, Colchester, Deep River, East Haddam, East Hampton, Essex, Haddam, Lyme, Portland, Westbrook, and part of Old Saybrook.

Click here for audio of the event: http://norm.vote/eno.mp3.

Click here for photos of the event: http://bit.ly/2bZWKDT.

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Sen. Linares Presented With a 2016 “Children’s Champion” Award

Sen. Art Linares (left) and Executive Director of the Connecticut Early Childhood Alliance Executive Director Merrill Gay.

Sen. Art Linares (left) and Executive Director of the Connecticut Early Childhood Alliance Executive Director Merrill Gay.

In a Sept. 8 ceremony at the start of a Middlesex Coalition for Children meeting at deKoven House in Middletown, Sen. Art Linares was presented with a 2016 “Children’s Champion” award by the Connecticut Early Childhood Alliance for his leadership on issues related to Connecticut’s young children.

The other local legislators honored at the same ceremony were Sen. Len Fasano, Sen. Dante Bartolomeo, Rep. Matthew Lesser and Rep. Noreen Kokoruda. A total of 29 legislators were recognized in ceremonies statewide.

Connecticut Early Childhood Alliance (www.earlychildhoodalliance.com) is a statewide organization committed to improving outcomes in the areas of learning, health, safety, and economic security for children ages birth to age eight. Every year, the Alliance recognizes legislators for their leadership on issues that impact the well-being of Connecticut’s young children in the areas of health development, early care and education, nutrition, and safety.

An Assistant Minority Leader, Sen. Linares, 28, is the lead Republican senator on the state legislature’s Planning and Development Committee. He also serves on the Education Committee, the Internship Committee and the Judiciary Committee. Sen. Linares has previously served on the Children’s Committee, the Commerce Committee and the Banks Committee.

Sen. Linares represents Lyme along with Chester, Clinton, Colchester, Deep River, East Haddam, East Hampton, Essex, Haddam, Old Saybrook, Portland, and Westbrook.  Visit his webpage at www.SenatorLinares.com.

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CT Early Childhood Alliance Names Sen. Linares a 2016 “Children’s Champion”

Sen. Art Linares high fives students during a school visit in Clinton.

Sen. Art Linares high fives students during a school visit in Clinton.

AREAWIDE — Sen. Art Linares has been named a 2016 “Children’s Champion” by the Connecticut Early Childhood Alliance for his leadership on issues related to Connecticut’s young children.

Connecticut Early Childhood Alliance (www.earlychildhoodalliance.com) is committed to improving outcomes in the areas of learning, health, safety and economic security for children ages birth to eight.

“I’m honored to be named a Children’s Champion,” Sen. Linares said.  “My focus at the State Capitol is on improving the quality of life for people of all ages in Connecticut.  That includes working with my colleagues in Hartford to shape legislation that impacts the well-being of Connecticut’s young children in the areas of healthy development, early care and education, nutrition and safety.”

He continued, ” I remain committed to passing effective state policies which help all of Connecticut’s children succeed.  I thank the Connecticut Early Childhood Alliance for this recognition.”

An Assistant Minority Leader, Sen. Linares, 27, is the lead Republican senator on the state legislature’s Planning and Development Committee. He also serves on the Education Committee, the Internship Committee and the Judiciary Committee. Sen. Linares has previously served on the Children’s Committee, the Commerce Committee and the Banks Committee.

Sen. Linares represents the Town of Lyme as well as Chester, Clinton, Colchester, Deep River, East Haddam, East Hampton, Essex, Haddam, Old Saybrook, Portland, and Westbrook.  He can be reached at Art.Linares@cga.ct.gov or at 800 842-1421 or visit his website at www.SenatorLinares.com .

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CT Port Authority Chair Tells Lower CT River Local Officials, “We’re All on One Team”

Enjoying a boat ride on the Connecticut River but still deep in discussion are (from left to right) Chester First Selectwoman Lauren Gister, Old Lyme First Selectwoman and and Connecticut Port Authority (CPA) Board Member Bonnie Reemsnyder, Essex First Selectman Norm Needleman, CPA Chairman Scott Bates and Deep River First Selectman Angus McDonald, Jr.

Enjoying a boat ride on the Connecticut River, but still finding time for discussions, are (from left to right) Chester First Selectwoman Lauren Gister, Old Lyme First Selectwoman and Connecticut Port Authority (CPA) board member Bonnie Reemsnyder, Essex First Selectman Norm Needleman, CPA Chairman Scott Bates and Deep River First Selectman Angus McDonald, Jr.

There was an overarching message both throughout the Connecticut Port Authority’s (CPA) meeting in Old Lyme’s Town Hall Thursday afternoon and during a subsequent boat ride on the MV ‘Victoria’ for members and local officials on the Connecticut River.  It was, in the words of CPA Chairman Scott Bates, that, “We’re absolutely committed to river communities.”

Scott Bates, CPA Chairman, receives input regarding the town's needs from Norm Needleman, Essex First Selectman.

Scott Bates, CPA Chairman, receives input regarding the town’s needs from Norm Needleman, Essex First Selectman.

In addition, while sailing from Essex down to Old Saybrook and then back up to Hamburg Cove on a perfect afternoon, Bates stressed, “Part of our mission is protecting these beautiful waters … and the quality of life we have here while preserving access to the river.”

View of the Connecticut River from the "Victoria."

View of the Connecticut River from the “Victoria.”

Bates noted that to have “five local officials (Chester First Selectwoman Lauren Gister, Deep River First Selectman Angus McDonald Jr., Essex First Selectman Norm Needleman and Old Lyme First Selectwoman Bonnie Reemsnyder, all of whom were on board, and Old Saybrook First Selectman Carl Fortuna, who was unable to join the trip) “involved” was a really positive sign in terms of  “building a coalition.”  This, Bates explained, was key to the development of a strategic plan for the CPA—something the Authority has been charged with preparing with a deadline of Jan. 1, 2017.

Gathered for a photo are (from left to right) CPA board member John Johnson, Essex First Selectman Norm Needleman, CPA Chairman Scott Bates and Old Lyme First Selectwoman and CPA board member Bonnie Reemsnyder.

Gathered for a photo are (from left to right) CPA board member John Johnson, Essex First Selectman Norm Needleman, CPA Chairman Scott Bates and Old Lyme First Selectwoman and CPA board member Bonnie Reemsnyder.

The  CPA is a relatively new quasi-public agency created in 2014 with board appointments made in 2016.  Bates said the agency was responsible for 35 coastal communities and with this trip, he would now personally have visited 28 of them. Since the CPA has not created a strategic plan previously, Bates said he is determined, “to include everyone,” in the process, adding that he regards part of the Authority’s mission to be “getting small town and big cities together.” and, in turn, “to make great things happen for our state.”

Deep River First Selectman Angus McDonald, Jr. (left) chats with RiverCOG Executive Director Sam Gold aboard the 'Victoria.'

Deep River First Selectman Angus McDonald, Jr. (left) chats with RiverCOG Executive Director Sam Gold aboard the ‘Victoria.’

Apart from Bates and the four local First Selectmen and Selectwomen, also on board were Lower Connecticut River Valley Council of Governments (RiverCOG) Executive Director Sam Gold, River COG Deputy Director and Principal Planner J.H. Torrance Downes, CPA Board of Directors member John Johnson and Joe Salvatore from the CPA.  Reemsnyder is also a board member of the CPA.

Connecticut Port Authority staff member Joe Salvatore points out a river feature to Reemsnyder and Johnson.

Connecticut Port Authority staff member Joe Salvatore points out a river feature to Reemsnyder, Bates and Johnson.

At the earlier meeting in Old Lyme, Downes had given a presentation to CPA members to introduce them to the Lower Connecticut River during which he had described the geography of the estuary, noting it had, “very little industry and very little commercial development.”  He described it as a “really prime area for bird migration” and highlighted numerous points of scenic beauty.

J.H. Torrance Downe, Deputy Director of River COG, takes in the view of the Connecticut River.

J.H. Torrance Downes, Deputy Director of River COG, takes in the view of the Connecticut River.

Bates noted one of the CPA’s responsibilities is to pursue state and federal funds for dredging and, while sailing under the Baldwin Bridge towards the Connecticut River’s mouth where several tributaries join the main river, Reemsnyder commented that Old Lyme had been a beneficiary of a $1.6 million state grant for dredging two of those tributaries — the Black Hall and Four Mile Rivers.  She noted that it had been a successful exercise thanks in part to Salvatore, who had, “held our hand through the whole project.”

John Johnson, CPA board member (right) checks in with the captain of the 'Victoria.'

John Johnson, CPA board member (right) checks in with the captain of the ‘Victoria.’ Joe Salvatore stands at rear.

Johnson, whose life and business career according to the CPA website, have “a common underlying element: the coastal waters,” also confirmed the benefits of a dredging program, saying, “There is a need for depth of water — both elements, marine and maritime, need depth of water.”  Still on the dredging issue, Bates said he had met separately with Old Saybrook First Selectman Fortuna and told him that he could have “whatever he needs to keep the mouth of the Connecticut River open.”

John Johnson (left) and Bonnie Reemsnyder (right), both CPA board members, chat with the CPA Chairman Scott bates.

John Johnson (left) and Bonnie Reemsnyder (right), both CPA board members, chat with the CPA Chairman Scott bates.

Reemsnyder took a minute to commend Bates for his leadership of the CPA, saying, “Scott has given focus to coastal communities,”  while Johnson added, “We are blessed with our new chairman.”

The quiet, untouched beauty of Hamburg Cove.

The quiet, untouched beauty of Hamburg Cove.

Glancing around at the numerous boats docked both in marinas and on the river itself,  Reemsnyder remarked, “Add up the money in these boats … [they represent] lots of economic drivers.”  On the same theme, Bates noted that the state is marketing its ports for the first time using “national expertise” in some cases with the aim of moving “more people and goods in and out of Connecticut.”  He added, “We have some great assets [in terms of ports in the state] but we could do more.”

Eyes on the Cove -- guests on the 'Victoria' gaze at the view across the calm waters of Hamburg Cove.

Eyes on the Cove — guests on the ‘Victoria’ gaze at the view across the calm waters of Hamburg Cove.

As the “Victoria’ pulled gently back into dock at Essex Yacht Club, Bates summarized the benefits of the boat trip saying that by spending time with these local leaders, he had been able to “see their waterfronts, assess their needs,“ and gain an “appreciation of the vitality of the Lower Connecticut River basin,” emphasizing one more time, “This is really about pulling together as a state … we’re all on one team.”

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Carney Achieves 100 Percent Voting Record in 2016 Legislative Session

State Representative Devin Carney

State Representative Devin Carney

State Rep. Devin Carney registered a 100 percent voting record during the 2016 legislative session and was present for all 313 votes taken on the House floor, according to recently released data from the House Clerk’s office. Perfect attendance is very difficult to achieve, with only 32% of legislators able to do so this year.

Carney, serving his first term representing the 23rd General Assembly District, is among just 49 members of the 151-member House of Representatives to achieve the 100 percent score and has maintained a100 percent voting record since being elected into office.

“It is simply my duty as the representative for the people of the 23rd District,” said Carney, whose district covers Lyme, Old Lyme, Old Saybrook and part of Westbrook. “I take this responsibility very seriously and I wouldn’t be able to accurately represent the district without being present for every vote; the people count on me to ensure our district’s voice is heard. It has been an honor and a privilege representing the people of the 23rd and I look forward to continue advocating on their behalf.”

Carney, who is the House Republican Chair of the Young Legislators Caucus, serves on the Environment Committee, and also on the Transportation, and Higher Education and Employment Advancement Committees in the General Assembly.

For an overview of legislation passed this year, visit the Office of Legislative Research website: https://www.cga.ct.gov/olr/Documents/year/MA/2016MA-20160610_Major%20Acts%20for%202016.pdf

The next regular session of the legislature will convene in early February 2017.

Anyone with questions, ideas or concerns about state-related issues can contact Carney’s office at Devin.Carney@housegop.ct.gov or 800-842-1423.

Carney represents the 23rd District communities of Lyme, Old Lyme, Old Saybrook and Westbrook.

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Carney Receives Unanimous Endorsement for Second Term from Republicans

State Representative Devin Carney

State Representative Devin Carney

State Rep. Devin Carney received a unanimous endorsement from delegates representing the Republican Town Committees of Lyme, Old Lyme, Old Saybrook and Westbrook at the 23rd District Convention on Monday.

“I am incredibly honored for this endorsement to serve a second term at the State Capitol. Serving my constituents in Hartford has been the greatest honor of my life, but there is so much more work left to do,” Carney said, noting, “Our state faces substantial financial problems in the coming months and years, which are exacerbated by the hostile attitude state government has toward businesses and entrepreneurs.”

Carney added, “I want to continue my efforts in fostering an economic environment where employers can start and grow businesses, where young people can find work, buy homes, and start families, and where seniors can afford to retire.”

He also noted, “In addition, I will keep fighting to strengthen the quality of life in our communities, to fix our broken transportation infrastructure, to get a handle on our state’s unfunded pension liabilities, and to improve our environment. As always, I pledge to continue to be a strong and independent voice in Hartford for all the people of the district.”

A delighted Carney reported that he has already reached his fundraising goals for re-election. “The outpouring of support I’ve received from my constituents across the district has been overwhelming,” said Carney, a member of the legislature’s Environment, Transportation and Higher Education and Employment Advancement committees.

He concluded, “I am truly humbled that so many have put their trust in me to continue representing them.”

During his first term Carney has made constituent service a priority. He has been a fixture in the district where he routinely holds office hours to brief residents about a wide range of legislative issues.

He voted against a state budget that included the second largest tax increase in state history including job-stifling taxes on employers.

He has introduced and/or co-sponsored legislation to reduce taxes in areas he feels are stifling growth such as the estate tax and the business entity tax and legislation that helps our hospitals, seniors, and those with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

Along with Senator Paul Formica, he helped eliminate the burdensome tax on residential propane deliveries and has battled against a destructive federal rail proposal that would negatively impact his shoreline constituents, especially in Old Lyme.

This past session he co-sponsored and actively supported the successful passage of comprehensive legislation to help combat our state’s current opioid crisis. He was named an “Environmental Champion” by the Friends of Westbrook Barrier Islands and he is a co-founder of the bipartisan Young Legislators Caucus, where he serves as House Republican Chair.

The election for 23rd District State Representative will be held on Tuesday, Nov.8.

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Republicans Nominate Art Linares for Third Term in 33rd Senate District

Art Linares (file photo)

Art Linares (file photo)

Republicans Tuesday nominated incumbent State Senator Art Linares of Westbrook for a third term in the 12-town 33rd Senate District. Linares was the unanimous choice of about 45 delegates and alternates gathered for the nominating convention at the Old Town Hall in East Haddam.

Linares is facing a challenge in the Nov. 8 vote from Democratic First Selectman Norman Needleman of Essex, who is expected to be nominated for the seat at the Democratic convention on May 23 in East Hampton. Needleman, 64, has served as first selectman of Essex since 2011. As well as the Town of Lyme, the district includes the towns of Chester, Clinton, Colchester, Deep River, East Haddam, East Hampton, Essex, Haddam, Portland, Westbrook, and portions of Old Saybrook.

Linares was nominated by State Rep. Melissa Ziobron of East Hampton, who described the incumbent as a “great advocate for all of the towns,” in the district. The nomination was seconded by Edward Marcolini of Old Saybrook, who described Linares as, “young, vibrant and personable.”

In brief remarks, Linares said he has worked for spending reform and fiscal responsibility at the capitol, contending that overly optimistic budget planning by legislative Democrats had led to first ever cuts in the state ECS (Education Cost Sharing) grants for cities and towns. Linares, 27, said he is ready for the election challenge. “I stand before you a four-year-veteran, a little more seasoned, but just as ready to knock on thousands of doors and wear out shoes as that 23-year-old kid was four years ago,” he said.

Linares declined to comment on Needleman’s candidacy, but confirmed he is ready to debate his opponent on more than one occasion during the fall campaign.

Linares, a co-founder of the Middletown-based Greenskies solar energy company, was elected in 2012 in a district that has been represented for 20 years by the late former Democratic State Senator Eileen Daily of Westbrook. He won a second term in 2014, defeating democrat Emily Bjornberg of Lyme on a 22,672-17,326 vote in a race where Bjornberg also had the Working Families Party ballot line and Linares had the ballot line of the Connecticut Independent Party.

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Essex First Selectman Needleman to Declare State Senate Candidacy Today, Challenging Linares

Essex First Selectman Norman Needleman

Essex First Selectman Norman Needleman

Essex First Selectman Norman Needleman (D) will announce his candidacy for the 33rd State Senate District at a press conference to be held Tuesday, May 3, at 5 p.m. in the Gelston House in East Haddam.

Needleman, a Democrat who is currently serving his second two-year term as Essex First Selectman, will challenge incumbent Art Linares (R), who is completing his second two-year term as 33rd District State Senator and is running for a third term. Linares is Assistant Minority Leader of the state senate.

Apart from Lyme, the 33rd senate district includes the towns of Chester, Clinton, Colchester, Deep River, East Haddam, East Hampton, Essex, Haddam, Old Saybrook, Portland and Westbrook.

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Clinton, Trump Win in Both Lyme, Old Lyme

Poll workers tally totals at the Cross Lane FireHouse after voting closed in Tuesday's presidential primary election.

Poll workers tally totals at the Cross Lane FireHouse after voting closed in Tuesday’s presidential primary election.

Reflecting statewide results, Donald Trump and Hilary Clinton were the winners in both the Lyme and Old Lyme primaries. Republican Trump’s margin of victory over runner-up John Kasich in Lyme was only seven votes but in Old Lyme, Trump garnered 470 votes to Kasich’s 326. Third-placed Ted Cruz secured 89 votes in Old Lyme and 36 votes in Lyme.

Interestingly, on the Democratic side, using the totals for just Clinton and Bernie Sanders, in a close race again reflecting the state’s position, Clinton secured exactly the same percentage of the vote (52.3 percent) in both towns., defeating Sanders by 18 votes in Old Lyme and seven in Lyme.

The unofficial results in detail were as follows:

Lyme Democrats:

Rocky De La Fuente: 0
Hilary Clinton: 206
Bernie Sanders: 188
Uncommitted: 1

Old Lyme Democrats:

Rocky De La Fuente: 0
Hilary Clinton: 476
Bernie Sanders: 434
Uncommitted: 14

Lyme Republicans:

Ted Cruz: 36
Ben Carson: 4
Donald Trump: 137
John Kasich: 124
Uncommitted: 7

Old Lyme Republicans:

Ted Cruz: 89
Ben Carson: 5
Donald Trump: 470
John Kasich: 326
Uncommitted: 13

 

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Op-Ed: Carney Says Proposed State Education Budget Cuts Will Seriously Impact Region 18

State Representative Devin Carney (R-23rd)

State Representative Devin Carney (R-23rd)

Does Governor Malloy have a problem with communities that succeed? This is a question we need to ask ourselves. Year after year, the schools of the 23rd District work diligently to provide quality education to our youth. Our teachers and administrators add to the success of our state by instilling the proper foundation to produce the industrial, business, and community leaders of tomorrow. Many of our best and the brightest students chose to continue their education in Connecticut – something of which the governor should be incredibly proud. Just last year the valedictorians from Region 18 (Lyme and Old Lyme) and Westbrook as well as the salutatorian from Old Saybrook chose UConn.

We have seen two budget proposals over the past two weeks that would do damage to the schools in the 23rd District. The Democrat-controlled Appropriations Committee released an incomplete budget that would cut Education Cost Sharing (“ECS”) funding to the towns in our district by 33 – 56%. This was bad enough. But, under the governor’s updated proposal, the four towns in the 23rd went from receiving a recommended amount of $1,831,496 in ECS funding to $0 for FY 2017 (July 1, 2016 – June 30, 2017). A total of 28 towns were zeroed-out, while many cities, like the governor’s hometown of Stamford, were held harmless. Talk about a shared sacrifice.

These proposed cuts – made at a time when most local Boards of Finance are crafting their own fiscal year budgets – are unfair. The clear lack of respect and care on the governor’s part is alarming. All four towns in the 23rd District will now have funding gaps and may require local property tax increases to offset them. This would add an even greater burden to Connecticut’s taxpayers and Connecticut simply cannot afford to lose additional wealth at this time. However, that’s where these indirect tax hikes would be directed – all 28 communities being zeroed-out are considered ‘wealthy’.

Although these cuts are debilitating to small towns like ours – which already receive far less back from the state than we put in – we must keep in mind that this is only a proposal.

I remain committed to finding a solution with other members of the legislature to address this inequitable cut to our towns and to solving our $930 million deficit. The state wants people to move to Connecticut and one of our best selling points is our top-tier education. While we are faced with many serious and pressing economic issues, predominantly the ongoing budget crisis, great public education is one area on which we can pride ourselves.

I have written a letter to the governor urging him not to turn his back on the children and the taxpayers of the 23rd District and to request that he amend his updated budget and eliminate these cuts. The taxpayers of Lyme, Old Lyme, Old Saybrook, and Westbrook provide a great deal to this state and the deficits would be much, much higher without us. If either the legislature’s or the governor’s cuts are enacted, then it would be only fair that some of the approximately 380 unfunded state educational mandates be eliminated.

Instead of education, the governor and the legislature must look to balance the budget through real structural changes in the way state government is run. Changes could include pension and benefit reform, re-negotiating of union contracts, a moratorium on unnecessary government projects, serious spending and bonding caps, and tighter controls on overtime. When I last checked, many don’t live in Connecticut for bloated government overtime, but they do for our great schools. In fact, it may just be the only thing keeping them here.

To read my letter to Governor Malloy: click here

To see how Connecticut towns fare under the Appropriations budget: click here

To see how Connecticut towns fare under the governor’s budget: click here

To read the governor’s budget proposal: click here

To see the approximately 380 unfunded educational mandates: click here

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Lyme DTC Announces New Officer Slate; Mails Newsletter with New Look, Mission to all Residents

Lyme Town Hall

Lyme Town Hall

The Lyme Democratic Town Committee (DTC) held an election Thursday, March 24, and elected the following officers:  Steven Mattson was re-elected chair, Sue Hessel was elected vice chair, Jarrod Leonardo was re-elected treasurer and Mary Ann Kistner was re-elected secretary.  All serving a two year term.

The Lyme DTC also announced that the April issue of its official newsletter – “Lyme Matters” – was published recently and mailed free of charge to all local residents.  Lyme residents who did not receive the newsletter and would like to receive a copy are invited to send their mailing address to the Lyme DTC at LymeCtDems@gmail.com.

According to Lyme DTC Chairman Steven Mattson, the organization’s newsletter has a brand new look and a new public service mission.  In addition to promoting Democratic candidates for office, announcing special events, and providing election news and information, the publication now features stories that help citizens better understand Lyme’s town government.

The April issue contains the following articles among others:

  • “Government by Town Meeting” 
  • “The Benefits of Registering To Vote”
  • “Values and a Vineyard”
  • “Lyme Land Conservation Trust Featured in PBS Documentary Series”
  • “Become an Official Part of the Democratic Process”
  • “How Unaffiliated Voters Can Vote in the April 26 Primary”

Mattson said, “We are excited to share the newsletter with everyone in Lyme and encourage all residents to become more involved in our local government.”

The Lyme DTC will be featuring excerpts from its April newsletter on its Facebook page at www.facebook.com/LymeCTDems.  The Twitter account for the Lyme DTC is @LymeCtDems.

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Senators Fight to Preserve Crucial Hospital Services

(L-R): Yale-New Haven Health System Senior Vice President of External Affairs Vin Petrini, Yale-New Haven Health System CEO Marna Borgstrom, Sen. Paul Formica, Yale-New Haven Health System Executive Vice President and Chief Strategy Officer Gayle Capozzalo, and Sen. Art Linares.

(L-R): Yale-New Haven Health System Senior Vice President of External Affairs Vin Petrini, Yale-New Haven Health System CEO Marna Borgstrom, Sen. Paul Formica, Yale-New Haven Health System Executive Vice President and Chief Strategy Officer Gayle Capozzalo, and Sen. Art Linares.

Sen. Paul Formica and Sen. Art Linares met with area hospital officials at the Legislative Office Building on March 23 to discuss ways to protect vital health care services for vulnerable populations like the disabled, children and seniors.

To protect those most in need, Formica and Linares, along with Senate and House Republicans, are proposing a plan to restore the governor’s funding cuts to Connecticut hospitals. The 2016 session of the Connecticut General Assembly ends in May.

Sen. Formica (R-20th, www.senatorformica.com) represents Bozrah, East Lyme, a portion of Montville, New London, Old Lyme, a portion of Old Saybrook, Salem and Waterford.

Sen. Linares (R-33rd, www.senatorlinares.com) represents Chester, Clinton, Colchester, Deep River, East Haddam, East Hampton, Essex, Haddam, Lyme, Old Saybrook, Portland and Westbrook.

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Courtney, Blumenthal, Murphy Call on FRA to Work With CT Stakeholders on Rail Upgrades

Request follows concerns from local town leaders and constituents that rail upgrades could negatively impact their communities

US Senator Joe Courtney

US Senator Joe Courtney

Last Friday, Feb. 5, U.S. Representative Joe Courtney (CT-2), U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), and U.S. Senator Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) called on the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) to host listening sessions along the Connecticut shoreline to hear local concerns about how early proposals for rail upgrades may impact their communities.

In a letter to FRA Administrator Feinberg, Courtney, Blumenthal, and Murphy raise specific concerns they have heard from constituents regarding the proposed rail line realignment outlined in Alternative 1 of the NEC FUTURE Plan. This proposed new segment would shift the main rail line northward ahead of the Old Saybrook Station and run through several Connecticut and Rhode Island shoreline communities before reconnecting to the existing segment in Kenyon, RI. 

“While we understand that the FRA is still in the project planning stages of NEC FUTURE and many more steps remain ahead in this process, we believe consistent community involvement will serve as the most important tool for finding agreeable alternatives, increasing local buy-in, and instilling a sense of trust among affected residents,” wrote Courtney, Blumenthal, and Murphy. “As the planning process moves forward, we request that the FRA host listening sessions along the Connecticut shoreline where the proposed Alternative 1 new track segment will be constructed in order to hear the views and concerns of the communities in this area.”

The proposals for rail upgrades, including the Alternative 1 realignment, were contained in the Tier 1 Draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS), which is currently in a public comment period. This initial report will be followed by a Tier 1 Final Environmental Impact Statement (Final EIS) and Record of Decision (ROD) which will be completed in 2016. The next stage of the process would be the Service Development Plan (SDP) in 2017 which will make the business case for why projects proposed in the EIS were selected for implementation. 

The full text of the letter is available online and below:

February 5, 2016

Administrator Sarah Feinberg
Federal Railroad Administration
1200 New Jersey Avenue, S.E.
Washington, D.C. 20590

RE: NEC FUTURE Tier 1 Draft EIS

Dear Administrator Feinberg:

As the Federal Railroad Administration continues the NEC FUTURE planning process, we write to underscore the importance of creating and maintaining a sense of open communication with communities who may be affected by new track segments constructed under the proposed Action Alternatives. Furthermore, we believe that it would be prudent for the FRA to consider hosting additional meetings and listening sessions in southeastern Connecticut. 

As representatives for the southeastern shore of Connecticut, we have seen firsthand the major need for improvement along the rail line. In fact, the vast majority of our constituents support upgrading our rail infrastructure to benefit our local economy and boost tourism. Unfortunately, these same constituents believe that the FRA has not done its due diligence in providing proper community outreach in towns that will be the most impacted by new track construction.

Specifically, we write to raise concerns we have heard from our constituents regarding the proposed new segment construction outlined in Alternative 1. As you know, the new segment in Alternative 1 will shift northward east of the Old Saybrook Station and run through several Connecticut and Rhode Island shoreline communities before reconnecting to the existing segment in Kenyon, RI. Connecticut’s shoreline boasts a rich, vibrant history and is home to quiet villages and historic port cities. Importantly, according to the assessment of cultural resources and historic properties in the draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS), Connecticut is home to the greatest amount of properties on the National Register of Historic Places that may be affected by new rail construction.

To that end, it is understandable that the NEC FUTURE Draft EIS has raised alarm among many Connecticut residents. Many in the region were surprised to learn about the potential placement of a new rail line in the towns. For example, as currently proposed Alternative 1 would run straight through the center of Old Lyme, impacting the cultural, historical and geographic integrity of the town – which is concerning to town leaders and community stakeholders.  We recognize that FRA held listening sessions and public meetings in several Connecticut cities, and we understand that the proposals in the EIS are just the beginning of any analysis—a more thorough vetting with local stakeholders consistent with federal law would happen before any project moves forward. Still, it appears that little engagement was done in these communities to assess even the preliminary views and concerns of those potentially impacted by the proposed new segment in Alternative 1 prior to inclusion in the report.  

While we understand that the FRA is still in the project planning stages of NEC FUTURE and many more steps remain ahead in this process, we believe consistent community involvement will serve as the most important tool for finding agreeable alternatives, increasing local buy-in, and instilling a sense of trust among affected residents. As the planning process moves forward, we request that the FRA host listening sessions along the Connecticut shoreline where the proposed Alternative 1 new track segment will be constructed in order to hear the views and concerns of the communities in this area.

Thank you for your consideration of our request, and we look forward to your response. 

Sincerely, 

Richard Blumenthal
Christopher S. Murphy
Joe Courtney

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Carney, Linares to Hold Office Hours in Westbrook, Feb. 9

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State Representative Devin Carney (R-23rd)

State Rep. Devin Carney (R-23rd) will hold pre-session office hours in Westbrook at the Westbrook Town Hall on Feb. 9, starting at 6:30 p.m. State Senator Art Linares (R-33rd) and State Representative Jesse MacLachlan (R-35th) will join Carney at the Westbrook event.

State Senator Art Linares

State Senator Art Linares (R-20th)

This session will provide constituents with an opportunity to ask questions or share their ideas and concerns about state government. Anyone with questions about the event can contact Carney’s office at 800-842-1423 or devin.carney@housegop.ct.gov.

Carney represents the 23rd General Assembly District that includes Lyme, Old Lyme, Old Saybrook and part of Westbrook.

Linares represents the 33rd District comprising Lyme along with Chester, Clinton, Colchester, Deep River, East Haddam, East Hampton, Essex, Haddam, Old Saybrook, Portland and Westbrook

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Carney, Formica Oppose NE Corridor Future Rail Study Affecting Old Lyme

Area Legislators are requesting the proposal be removed or a public hearing be held

Sen. Paul Formica (left) stands with State Rep. Devin Carney.

Sen. Paul Formica (left) stands with State Rep. Devin Carney.

State Rep. Devin Carney and State Sen. Paul Formica are calling for action in response to a number of constituent concerns regarding the Northeast Corridor (NEC) Future Tier 1 Draft EIS “Alternative 1” that includes a study to improve rail service and travel time between major cities at the expense of the Old Lyme community.

NEC Future maintains that “Alternative 1” would increase service to keep pace with growth in population and employment. This is accomplished by expanding capacity, adding tracks, and relieving key chokepoints. However, this new track would dramatically change the path of the railroad, moving the tracks inland, cutting right through the heart of Old Lyme.

Carney stated that “this will negatively affect homeowners, the Old Lyme Historic District (including many shops, historic art galleries, the Florence Griswold Museum, and the Lyme Academy of Fine Arts), businesses, and the character within this quiet, beautiful community. Not to mention, the environmental impacts including additional pollution and the demolition of wetlands, open space and our natural resources.”

“This proposal would have negative social and environmental impacts on Old Lyme, and these consequences have not been properly taken into consideration,” Formica said.  “There are severely worrisome eminent domain implications regarding this proposal that would destroy Old Lyme’s infrastructure, community, and overall way of life.”

Carney and Formica said that along with their constituents, they too were not given any official notice about this study by the federal government.  The legislators said they found out via word-of-mouth, which is unacceptable. Furthermore, both legislators feel that before this process moves any further, this proposal must be removed from any current and future studies. In the event that this proposal is not removed, they have requested that there be a public hearing in Old Lyme before the comment period for this project ends on February 15; they have yet to receive a reply.

“The people of Old Lyme and the region deserve to have their voices heard on a proposal that would drastically alter their lives,” added Carney.

Residents that have concerns or would like to testify are urged to do so by February 15th, which is the comment period deadline. Residents can comment online at http://www.necfuture.com/get_involved/, via e-mail comment@necfuture.com, or by mail U.S. DOT Federal Railroad Administration, One Bowling Green, Suite 429, New York, NY 10004.

Carney and Formica also believe people should contact Congressman Joe Courtney, Senator Chris Murphy and Senator Richard Blumenthal urging them to take action. Courtney’s Norwich office number is (860) 886-0139, Murphy’s Hartford office number is (860) 549-8463, and Blumenthal’s Hartford office number is (860) 258-6940.

NEC FUTURE is a comprehensive planning effort to define, evaluate, and prioritize future investments in the Northeast Corridor (NEC), from Washington, D.C. to Boston. The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) launched NEC FUTURE in February 2012 to consider the role of rail passenger service in the context of current and future transportation demands. Through the NEC FUTURE program, the FRA will determine a long-term vision and investment program for the NEC, and provide a Tier 1 Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) and Service Development Plan (SDP) in 2016 in support of that vision.

For more information, visit http://www.necfuture.com/alternatives/alternatives_comparison.aspx

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Carney, Linares to Hold Office Hours in Westbrook, Feb. 9

State Representative Devin Carney (R-23rd)

State Representative Devin Carney (R-23rd)

State Rep. Devin Carney (R-23rd) will hold pre-session office hours in Old Saybrook at the Saybrook Point Pavilion on Monday, Jan. 25, starting at 6 p.m., in Old Lyme at the Phoebe Griffin Noyes Library on Wednesday, Jan. 27, starting at 6 p.m., and in Westbrook at the Westbrook Town Hall on Feb. 9, starting at 6:30 p.m.

Carney will be joined in Old Saybrook on Jan. 25 by State Senators Art Linares (R-33rd) and Paul Formica (R-20th).

At the Old Lyme event, Carney will be joined by State Senator Paul Formica: State Representative Jesse MacLachlan (R-35th) and Linares will join Carney at the Westbrook event.

State Senator Paul Formica (R-33rd)

State Senator Paul Formica (R-33rd)

These sessions will provide constituents with an opportunity to ask questions or share their ideas and concerns about state government. Anyone with questions about the event can contact Carney’s office at 800-842-1423 or devin.carney@housegop.ct.gov.

Carney represents the 23rd General Assembly District that includes Lyme, Old Lyme, Old Saybrook and part of Westbrook.

State Senator Art Linares

State Senator Art Linares (R-20th)

Formica represents the 20th District comprising  Old Lyme, along with Bozrah, East Lyme, Montville, New London,Old Saybrook, Salem and Waterford.

Linares represents the 33rd District comprising Lyme along with Chester, Clinton, Colchester, Deep River, East Haddam, East Hampton, Essex, Haddam,  Old Saybrook, Portland and Westbrook

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Formica, Linares Joins Fellow Senators to Announce Amendment to Improve Protection of CT Open Space

From left to right, Senators Formica, Linares and Witkos announce a new constitutional amendment.

From left to right, Senators Formica, Linares and Witkos announce a new constitutional amendment.

Sen. Paul Formica, Sen. Art Linares and Sen. Kevin Witkos joined with environmental advocates on Jan. 13 to unveil a constitutional amendment proposal to improve the protection of forest land, parks, wildlife areas and other open space in Connecticut.

The legislators’ proposal would implement strengthened restrictions on the sale of preserved land.

The next legislative session begins in February.

Sen. Art Linares represents Lyme along with Chester, Clinton, Colchester, Deep River, East Haddam, East Hampton, Essex, Haddam, Old Saybrook, Portland and Westbrook.

Sen. Paul Formica represents Old Lyme along with Bozrah, East Lyme, a portion of Montville, New London, a portion of Old Saybrook, Salem, and Waterford.

Sen. Kevin Witkos represents Avon, Barkhamsted, Canton, Colebrook, Granby, Hartland, Harwinton, New Hartford, Norfolk, Simsbury, and Torrington.

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