September 19, 2019

Reemsnyder Firmly Denies Wrongdoing at CT Port Authority, Explains Absence at Transportation Hearing

Old Lyme First Selectwoman Bonnie Reemsnyder

OLD LYME — As has been widely reported, Old Lyme First Selectwoman Bonnie Reemsnyder did not appear in person at the state Transportation Committee’s hearing regarding the Connecticut Port Authority (CPA) on Tuesday.

She did, however, submit written testimony (published in full at the link below) in which she stated categorically in reference to the purchase by the CPA of photographs from her daughter, “Consistent with the State’s Ethics Code governing conflicts of interest, I had no involvement in any aspect of the sale, including no role in the initial decision, negotiations, payment, bookkeeping, or accounting for the transaction, and I did not benefit in any way financially from the transaction.”

Reemsnyder gave LymeLine.com the following explanation for her absence from the hearing in an e-mail Wednesday evening, in which she said, “I received the “invitation to attend” on Sunday night, as I was away the weekend, and the Town was committing to a bond for the Library. On Tuesday, I had to coordinate the signatures of the Term Sheet to secure the rate that was offered in a bid. So between reviewing the term sheet documents, accepting changes from the bank, and coordinating with the Treasurer for signatures, it tied up my morning.”

She continued, “In addition, I had an afternoon meeting that was already scheduled, and a Board of Finance meeting that night, which I take a considerable time to prepare for,” adding, “I did take the time on Monday, a day that I had a 4 PM Board of Selectmen meeting that I carefully prepare for, to articulate my written testimony.”

Visit this link to read Reemsnyder’s written testimony to the Transportation Committee.

 

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Responding to Last Weekend’s Mass Shootings, Sen. Murphy Authors Op-Ed in ‘The Hill’ Titled ‘The Violence Paradox’

US Senator Chris Murphy (D-Conn.)

WASHINGTON –- Following last weekend’s mass shootings in El Paso, Texas and Dayton, Ohio, U.S. Senator Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), authored an op-ed in The Hill focusing on America’s unique legacy of violence and how Congressional inaction is a signal of endorsement to would-be shooters. Since his time in the Senate, Murphy has been a vocal critic of our nation’s gun laws and have proposed commonsense gun violence prevention legislation.

Excerpts from the op-ed are below and can be viewed here.

“It is a deeply uncomfortable fact that inside some humans lies the ability to rationalize the decision to walk into a Walmart or a crowded bar and start firing a wildly lethal weapon indiscriminately, with the goal of ending as many lives as possible.”

“But as these slaughters – from Newtown to Orlando to Las Vegas to El Paso and Dayton – continue unabated, we need to start asking questions about what within our own makeup explains this mass shooting epidemic, and what control society has over these outlier actions that seem, with each new mind-bending massacre, less like outliers. The answer is that violence is inside us, but so is the ability to end this epic-scale carnage.”

“First, we must face a foundational fact – humans are uniquely hardwired for violence.”

“Our rates of violence over the millennia have gone up and down, but long ago, humans figured out that violence was an effective means of social and economic advancement.”

“Here in America, our legacy of violence is even more pronounced than the rest of the world. Once Europeans landed on the continent, violence as a means of social order became standard order.”

“First, it was the settlers wiping out the local tribes, then it was slaveowners using massive scale violence to enslave African-Americans, and then ethnic groups turned on each other, using violence to contest economic and social space in America’s crowded cities.”

“Along the way, it was the guns that made it easy for the dominant groups to control the subordinate groups. One historian suggests that without the flood of weapons that came with America becoming the early home of the global arms industry, America would be 50 percent less murderous over our long history.”

“Here in America, we are nowhere near as violent as we were in our early years, in large part because of government intervention. It is not a coincidence that the two steepest periods of decline in the rate of murder in the United States occurred right after passage of the two most significant gun laws in our nation’s history – the first national firearms control acts in 1934 and 1938, and the background checks and assault weapons ban bills in 1993 and 1994.”

“The success of those two legislative efforts to significantly depress violence levels in the United States should give us hope as we grieve over these most recent American mass shootings.”

“Laws that keep weapons away from dangerous people, and keep uniquely dangerous weapons – like the AR-15 – away from everyone, work.”

Data shows that states with tougher gun laws have lower gun murder rates. At the federal level, during the 10 years of the assault weapons ban, America’s mass murder rate was almost half that of the following 10 years.”

“At the federal level, during the 10 years of the assault weapons ban, America’s mass murder rate was almost half that of the following 10 years.”

“As the minds of these mass shooters descend into a dark place, unimaginable to you and me, where they rationalize the decision to exorcise their personal trauma through mass violence, I believe they take note of the silence at the highest levels of their nation regarding the choice they are contemplating.”

“Yes, presidents and governors and senators send out statements condemning each mass shooting, and offer “thoughts and prayers” to the victims and their families. But these are empty words, and everybody knows it, especially after no actual policy changes are enacted as the mass shooting era continues to grip America.”

“The absence of any interest in passing laws to condemn mass shootings sends a signal of unintentional endorsement to would-be mass murderers.”

“When it comes to the instincts that lie inside humans, this weekend’s shootings represent one side of the coin. But on the other side is our ability to stop violence. It’s our choice which side lands face up.”

Read the full op-ed here.

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Griswold Placed on November Ballot as Republican Old Lyme First Selectman Candidate

Former Old Lyme First Selectman Tim Griswold

Tim Griswold, who served as Old Lyme First Selectman from 1997-2011, was today officially placed on the November ballot as the Republican candidate for Old Lyme First Selectman.

This followed certification earlier this morning of 189 petition signatures by the Republican Old Lyme Town Registrar Cathy Carter, which involved checking each signature for authenticity and confirming the signer’s current membership of the Republican Party.  Tim Griswold and Barbara Crowley then both pledged that they had witnessed the signatures when they were taken.

The final step in the process occurred when Old Lyme Town Clerk Vicki Urbowicz called the Secretary of State’s Office to notify them of the petition and the number of signatures.  That office then checked there was no candidate already endorsed by the Old Lyme Republican Town Committee and since there was none, the Secretary of State’s Office confirmed that Urbowicz should place Griswold’s name on the ballot using the State Elections Program. Urbowicz has now completed that task.

This means there will be no Republican Primary in September because no other Old Lyme Republicans submitted petitions and today is the deadline submission day.

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Griswold Gathers Over 200 Signatures on Petition to Run as Republican First Selectman in November, State Requires 84

Former Old Lyme First Selectman Tim Griswold

Old Lyme Republican Registrar Cathy Carter

OLD LYME — Former Old Lyme First Selectman Timothy C. Griswold has collected more than 200 signatures on petitions requesting his name be added to the ballot in September as the Republican candidate for First Selectman. Griswold gave the number to LymeLine in an email conversation Sunday and added that there are more petitions out in the community, which he has not picked up yet.

He said he plans to give all the petitions to the Old Lyme Republican Registrar Cathy Carter this afternoon.  She told LymeLine on Friday by phone that once she has received the petitions, she must review each signature to verify it, checking that the person is a legitimate member of the Republican party.

To demonstrate what sometimes happens when people believe they are registered Republicans but, in fact, turn out not to be, Carter gave the example of someone who may have moved out of Old Lyme, then returned, but forgot to re-register their name with the party.

Carter told LymeLine she must submit the petitions and verified signatures to the state by Wednesday, Aug. 7. According to the state’s rules, Griswold needs signatures from five percent of the approximately 1680 registered Republicans in Old Lyme, so the minimum number of signatures required is around 84.

Carter added that a Republican Primary would not be required in September since the Republicans did not endorse anyone for First Selectman in the slate that they have already submitted.  Chris Kerr was endorsed for a second term as Selectman by the Republicans and Griswold has indicated he will campaign with Kerr if he is successful in his efforts to be on the ballot.

See this article, Griswold Petition to Run on November Ballot as Old Lyme First Selectman Has More Than 80 of 85 Signatures Required, Expects to Meet Goal by Tonight, published on LymeLine Aug. 2, for more information.

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Griswold Petition to Run on November Ballot as Old Lyme First Selectman Has More Than 80 of 85 Signatures Required, Expects to Meet Goal by Tonight

Old Lyme First Selectwoman Bonnie Reemsnyder. File photo.

Former Old Lyme First Selectman Tim Griswold. File photo.

UPDATED 08/02, 3:17pm : see text in bold — After their meeting last week to endorse a slate of candidates for the November election, the Old Lyme Republican Town Committee (RTC) entered “No Endorsement” against the position of First Selectman. Just over a week later, former Old Lyme First Selectman Timothy C. Griswold is petitioning to be the Republican candidate and has almost collected the required number of signatures to submit to the state.

Asked in a phone conversation yesterday why he was running, Griswold told LymeLine, “I didn’t plan to run but when I looked around at the recent landscape, it seemed as if someone should mount a challenge for the position of First Selectman. It appeared wrong that the voters didn’t have a choice on the ballot.” Alluding to his previous 14 years as Old Lyme First Selectman, Griswold added with a chuckle, “I think I can still find the office.”

Although he has already been endorsed by the Old Lyme RTC to run as Town Treasurer  — a position in which he already serves — Griswold noted he would be unable to serve as Town Treasurer if he were elected First Selectman in November.

The “recent landscape,” on which Griswold did not elaborate, is presumed to be the request last week from Governor Ned Lamont for incumbent First Selectwoman Bonnie Reemsnyder to resign from the position of Connecticut Port Authority Chairman amid growing concerns about how the quasi-state agency has been operating.

Incumbent First Selectwoman Bonnie Reemsnyder, who has already been endorsed by the Old Lyme Democratic Town Committee to run for a fifth term with fellow incumbent Selectwoman Mary Jo Nosal, shared with LymeLine in an email last night, “Tim and I have worked together on things and run against each other in the past. I will run on my record of accomplishments.”

Christine Gianquinto, Old Lyme Democratic Town Committee Chairman, said in a statement to LymeLine last week, “We believe it is important that she [Reemsnyder] should continue her leadership and the positive progress that has led to significant accomplishments for the benefit of the Town of Old Lyme.”

According to the state’s timeline, Griswold needs signatures from 5 percent (around 85) of the registered Republicans in Old Lyme by Wednesday, Aug. 7.  In order to verify all the signatures for legitimacy, Republican Town Registrar Cathy Carter has requested that signatures be submitted by Monday for her review. She shared with LymeLine today in a phone call that she had also also recommended those collecting signatures should aim at 150 to allow for some signatures being rejected during the review process.

Barbara Crowley, the owner of The Chocolate Shell on Lyme Street, has confirmed to us this morning in a phone call that she collected 54 signatures yesterday while Griswold has confirmed to us in an email shortly after that he has 27, also noting, ” a couple of others also have petitions.”  He added in a further email just an hour ago, “We may hit our goal by the end of today.”

The petition can be signed at The Chocolate Shell today and tomorrow between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m.  The store will be closed on Sunday and Monday.

 

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Old Lyme RTC Announces Endorsed Slate of Candidates for November Election

OLD LYME — The Old Lyme Republican Town Committee (RTC) has announced their endorsed slate of candidates for the November 2019 election.  In his email accompanying details of the slate, Old Lyme RTC Chairman David Kelsey commented, “We did not endorse a first selectman candidate last week, but with Bonnie’s events last week, we may have a petition candidate coming.”

We received this from Kelsey prior to learning that Tim Griswold has decided to petition as a candidate for First Selectman.

The Old Lyme RTC endorsements for the 2019 election are as follows:

Board of Selectman
First Selectman NO ENDORSEMENT
Selectman- Chris Kerr, Selectman

Town Treasurer
Tim Griswold

Tax Collector
Judy Tooker

Board of Finance
Full – David Kelsey
Full – Janet Sturges
Alternate – Jude Read
Alternate – Matt Olsen

Board of Assessment Appeals
Dave Evers

Planning Commission
Full – Steven Ross
Full – Harold Thompson

Zoning Commission
2019 Term – Tammy Tinnerello
2020 Term – Mike Miller

Zoning Board of Appeals
2019 Term – Nancy Hutchinson
2020 Term – Stephen Dix
Alternate – Devin Carney
Alternate – Sherry Johnston

Board of Education:
Suzanne Thompson
Steven Wilson
Jennifer Miller

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Carney, Somers Call for Public Hearing Regarding Recent Port Authority Issues

State Representative Devin Carney (R-23rd)

HARTFORD — State Rep. Devin Carney (R-23) and State Senator Heather Somers (R-18) are asking that the Transportation Committee  hold a public hearing to address issues pertaining to the Connecticut Port Authority, its recent leadership changes, and related controversies. Both legislators want the opportunity to obtain answers and receive a more detailed explanation of the ongoing problems at the quasi-public Authority.

Rep. Carney, the Ranking Member of the legislature’s Transportation Bonding Sub-Committee said, “I am very concerned about what is occurring at the Port Authority and believe the public deserves answers. As a member of the Transportation Committee and with the Port Authority’s offices in my district, I am calling for a public hearing to find out how the Authority is being managed and to find out exactly what went wrong and when.”

“It has been five years since the agency was established, and I feel strongly that given its recent leadership changes, there is no better time than now for us to take a close look at what is going on regarding the Port Authority and how it is accomplishing its statutory goals,” added Carney.  “There appears to be more going on here than what we are being told and the legislature owes it to the people of this state to get to the bottom of it. We must to have more transparency and more oversight.”

“There are many questions to be answered to give the public confidence that this organization is meeting its responsibilities to the taxpayers at a critical time. It is very disturbing that we are not receiving more information about issues with staff and finances,” said Senator Somers.

“The public deserves transparency and it is unacceptable that an Authority with such a large budget is in such disarray,” Somers added. “It is imperative that swift action be taken as the state is entering into a multi-million dollar investment into New London’s deep- water port.  In order to move forward, Connecticut’s residents and businesses deserve a non-partisan Port Authority comprised of industry experts in deep water ports and international shipping.”

Editor’s Note: The 23rd District includes Lyme, Old Lyme Old Saybrook and part of Westbrook.

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Old Lyme DTC Stands by Endorsement of Reemsnyder for First Selectman; “We Believe it is Important That She Should Continue Her Leadership,” Gianquinto

Old Lyme First Selectwoman Bonnie Reemsnyder

OLD LYME — We received the following response this afternoon from the Old Lyme Democratic Town Committee (DTC) Chairman Christine Gianquinto.

We had asked yesterday for a comment on how the Old Lyme DTC feels about their endorsed candidate for Old Lyme First Selectman resigning yesterday from her position as chair of the Connecticut Port Authority at the Governor’s request (see this article by Stephen Singer published yesterday on the Hartford Courant website titled Chairwoman of Connecticut Port Authority, pressured by Gov. Ned Lamont, resigns after agency spent $3K on photographs taken by her daughter.

Gianquinto wrote, “The fact that the endorsement by members of the Old Lyme Democratic Town Committee of Bonnie Reemsnyder for the position of First Selectman was unanimous speaks for itself.  The endorsement was based on a record of proven accomplishment and the knowledge that she will continue to provide strong municipal leadership for all of the residents of Old Lyme.  We believe it is important that she should continue her leadership and the positive progress that has led to significant accomplishments for the benefit of the Town of Old Lyme.”

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Old Lyme DTC Endorse Reemsnyder for First Selectman Despite Her Forced Resignation Yesterday From CT Port Authority; Full Slate of Candidates Announced

Incumbents First Selectwoman Bonnie Reemsnyder (right) and Selectwoman Mary Jo Nosal have been endorsed to run for a fifth term by the Old Lyme DTC. (File photo)

OLD LYME – In a special meeting advertised to endorse a slate of electors for the 2019 Municipal Election, the Old Lyme Democratic Town Committee (DTC) unanimously endorsed a slate of 17 residents for election on Nov. 5.

The endorsed slate is as follows:

  • First Selectman – Bonnie A. Reemsnyder
  • Board of Selectman – Mary Jo Nosal
  • Town Treasurer – Michael Reiter
  • Tax Collector – Sarah E. Michaelson
  • Planning Commission – Alexander Klose, Jim Lampos
  • Board of Finance – David A. Rubino, Anna S. Reiter
  • Board of Finance, alternate – Adam S. Burrows, Craig Taliento
  • Zoning Commission – Harvey Gemme, Jane Cable
  • Zoning Board of Appeals – Mara Lowry, Kathleen Tracy
  • Regional Board of Education – Sarah W. Bowman, Jason L. Kemp, Lorianne Panzara-Griswold

Following the endorsement, Democratic First Selectwoman Bonnie Reemsnyder and Selectwoman Mary Jo Nosal each officially accepted their endorsement for a fifth term.

We have asked Old Lyme DTC Chair Christine Gianquinto for a comment on how the Old Lyme DTC feels about their endorsed candidate for Old Lyme First Selectwoman resigning yesterday from her position as chair of the Connecticut Port Authority at the Governor’s request (see this article by Stephen Singer published yesterday on the Hartford Courant website titled Chairwoman of Connecticut Port Authority, pressured by Gov. Ned Lamont, resigns after agency spent $3K on photographs taken by her daughter.) We have not yet received a response.

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Mattson, Kiker to Run for Reelection in Lyme; Lyme DTC Announces Full Slate of Candidates for November Election

Lyme First Selectman Steve Mattson (right) and Lyme Selectman John Kiker, both Democrats, are both running for reelection in November 2019. File photo.

LYME –- The Lyme Democratic Town Committee (DTC) announced yesterday that a local Democratic caucus last night nominated and approved a slate of Democratic candidates to run in the November 5 municipal elections.

Lyme First Selectman Steven Mattson and Selectman John Kiker received the unanimous endorsement of the caucus for reelection. Caucus participant and former State Representative Claire Sauer said, “Steve and John have done an excellent job of serving our town, while keeping our mill rate among the lowest in the state.”

The Democratic caucus also nominated seven other Lyme residents to run for public office in November, each of whom received unanimous endorsements.

Lyme DTC Nominating Committee Chairperson Ann Rich said, “Our committee has been actively interviewing Lyme residents with the potential to serve our town in various capacities. We identified a number of individuals who are not only highly qualified, but also extremely interested in serving the town we all love and cherish.”

Running for election this year will be:

• Jarrod Leonardo for Board of Finance
• Susan Tyler for Board of Finance Alternate
• Bob House for Board of Finance Alternate
• Carol House for Planning & Zoning Commission
• Michael James for Library Board
• Anna González James for Zoning Board of Appeals Alternate

Running for reelection will be:

• Steven Mattson for First Selectman
• John Kiker for Selectman and Zoning Board of Appeals
• Judy Ulrich for Library Board

The Lyme DTC’s mission is to support and strengthen the Democratic Party in the Town of Lyme and the State of Connecticut. The committee typically meets on the third Thursday of every month at 7:30 p.m. in the Lyme Town Hall. These meetings are open to the public and all registered Democrats are encouraged to attend.

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Reemsnyder, Nosal Officially Announce Re-Election Campaign 

Incumbents First Selectwoman Bonnie Reemsnyder (right) and Selectwoman Mary Jo Nosal have just announced their re-election campaign. (File photo)

Yesterday, Democratic First Selectwoman Bonnie Reemsnyder and Selectwoman Mary Jo Nosal officially announced they will be running for re-election. Bonnie Reemsnyder has served on the Board of Selectmen since 2003 and was elected First Selectman in 2011. Mary Jo Nosal joined Reemsnyder as a member of the Board of Selectmen in 2011.

“Since first being elected, our number one priority has always been finding innovative ways to improve our town while not putting an unfair burden on taxpayers,” Reemsnyder stated, “and this year, we were proud to be able to sustain a low tax base while actually expanding services and building infrastructure through planning and grants. We continue to build towards a future of financial stability and while we are proud of our accomplishments so far, we know there is still work to be done.”

“I don’t think people fully appreciate the work that Bonnie and Mary Jo do for the town of Old Lyme,” Old Lyme resident Pamelia Parker stated. “Bonnie and Mary Jo have spent their entire time in office advocating for policies that will preserve the character of our town while adapting to a changing state. Going back to their fight to prevent the train coming through our historical district, they have shown time and again that they listen to our concerns and are proactive in providing a voice to everyday people. I love living in Old Lyme and I’m supporting this team because they have shown they have the work ethic and vision to lead us to a better future.”

Selectwoman Mary Jo Nosal took the opportunity to speak about their past two years in office. “Keeping taxes low, securing over $1 million in state funding to fix our roads, and supporting our schools and nonprofits are all accomplishments that represent our values and vision as a team,” Nosal commented. “Old Lyme is a special place and the opportunity to continue to serve the people of this town is an honor.”

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Sen. Needleman Joins Gov. Lamont for Signing of Invasive Species Bill

State Senator Norm Needleman (standing, fifth from right) joins a coalition of political and regional leaders as Governor Ned Lamont signs legislation into effect better protecting Connecticut waterways from invasive species.

AREAWIDE – Today, State Senator Norm Needleman (D-33rd) joined Governor Ned Lamont for the signing of legislation designed to fight invasive species and preserve Connecticut’s lakes, ponds and rivers. This step is intended to protect Connecticut’s natural wildlife and environment while also benefitting the beautiful bodies of water that draw so many from the state and beyond.

The 33rd Senate District includes the Town of Lyme.

“Too many bodies of water around Connecticut experience significant environmental damage by invasive species. A simple weed or piece of algae stuck to a boat’s hull can, in time, create a massive threat to a lake or river’s ecosystem, rapidly multiplying. That can harm fishing and recreation, even making the body of water unusable,” said Sen. Needleman. “There’s a reason this legislation received overwhelming support from both environmental groups and lake and boating associations – it will help protect our state against these dangerous threats, keeping our waterways clear. It’s great to see this issue receive the attention it deserves.”

The legislation in question will create a boat stamp, with proceeds helping to fund removal of invasive species from state waterways. Connecticut residents will be charged $5, while out-of-state residents will be charged $25. The collected funds will be deposited into the Connecticut Lakes, Rivers and Ponds Preservation Fund to support programming on eradicating invasive species, education and public outreach programs to better educate the public, and grants to study better management of bodies of water.

The bill passed the House and Senate on bipartisan votes of 131-10 and 34-2, and in March, dozens of residents supported it at a public hearing. Towns in the 33rd District including East Hampton, Lyme and Old Lyme have experienced growth of invasive weeds and algae in their waterways and bodies of water.

The new law takes effect January 1, 2020.

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News Associations Concerned Over Digital Political Ad Reporting Requirements

Sen. Matt Lesser and Senate Majority Leader Bob Duff. Photo by Christine Stuart/CT NewsJunkie file photo

The Connecticut Broadcasters Association and the Connecticut Daily Newspaper Association are lobbying against legislation that seeks to target “online platforms” with reporting requirements for political advertising.

In an open letter to the General Administration and Elections Committee, which forwarded HB 7329 to the House on April 1 by a 12-3 vote, the news associations said the requirements in the bill would “create costly administrative burdens” and would act like a “hidden tax” on news organizations.

At the minimum, the bill would require …

Follow this link to read the full article by Christine Stuart and published today on CTNewsJunkie.com

 

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Legislators, Superintendents, Residents Express Universal Opposition to Forced School Regionalization

Special to LymeLine.com

Sitting in the front row of the audience at Monday night’s forum on school regionalization were local school superintendents (from right to left) Ian Neviaser (Lyme-Old Lyme), Pat Ciccone (Westbrook) and Jan Perruccio (Old Saybrook.)

Over 100 people turned out for an Education and Regionalization Forum at Old Saybrook Middle School on Thursday, April 11. The event was hosted by Rep. Devin Carney, (R-23rd), with Senators Paul Formica, (R-20th), and Norm Needleman, (D-33rd).

While the two parties differ on Connecticut road tolls, all three local officials said they are against forced regionalization of school district bills proposed by Senate President Pro Tempore Martin Looney, Senators Bob Duff and Cathy Osten, Deputy President Pro Tempore, and by Governor Ned Lamont.

Rep. Carney said there was an enormous public outcry by small towns and school districts, thousands of pieces of testimony received and hundreds of people, including students from Region 18 schools, who testified in March hearings.  While this probably means that the idea of aligning school districts with recently consolidated probate districts is not advancing, the matter of reducing and reallocating education costs is very much still alive, and pieces of proposed legislation could still become law.

“Nothing is truly ever dead until we gavel out at midnight on June 5,” Rep. Carney said, explaining the state legislative process and timelines of the ongoing session in Hartford. 

State Rep. Devin Carney (R-23rd) addresses the audience Monday night while (left) State Sen. Paul Formica (R-20th) awaits his turn to speak. Almost hidden from view, State Sen. Norm Needleman (D-33rd) stands to Rep. Carney’s right.

Of the six bills introduced that address regionalization of schools or services, three have been passed by the Education Committee and further action could be taken on them:

  • Governors Bill 874 establishes an appointed Commission on Shared School Services that is charged with developing shared school services recommendations, requires boards of education (BOEs) to report on currently shared school services and requires regional BOEs to post online monthly current and projected expenditures and to submit information to their town’s legislative body. The commission would issue a report in December 2020, recommendations could be binding on towns and districts. Because of costs of setting up a commission, the bill has been referred to Appropriations Committee;
  • HB 7350 requires regional education service centers (RESCs) to distribute an inventory of goods and services to member BOEs, and the Department of Education (DOE) shall develop a report of best practices by RESCs for regional cooperation. (LEARN, at 44 Hatchetts Hill Road in Old Lyme, is a RESC);
  • SB 1069, proposed by Sen. Needleman, which allows the DOE to study the effects of towns working together as Local Education Agencies, is intended to encourage voluntary regional cooperation and maximize efficiencies and cost savings without being mandated to become regional school districts.

Superintendents Ian Neviaser (Lyme-Old Lyme), Jan Perruccio (Old Saybrook), and Pat Ciccone (Westbrook) addressed how their districts have been sharing services and resources to reduce costs while maintaining the quality of curriculum along with educational, extracurricular and sports activities and programs.  Standard practices include health and dental insurance, energy, financial software, food service and supplies, plus student transportation for specialized programs.

Old Saybrook, Westbrook and Region 4 (Chester, Deep River and Essex plus the three elementary schools for each of those towns, which are not part of Region 4) school districts already share staff, Perruccio said, in an arrangement that has the flexibility to change yearly based on each districts’ demographic needs.

Perruccio said she was alarmed that the forced regionalization bills showed a lack of regard and understanding of how school districts are already sharing resources with a focus on quality of education.

Ciccone cited how the districts are coordinating to provide professional development for their teachers, and how Westbrook’s school facilities, sports programs and fields are utilized by the Town Parks and Recreation Department and local YMCA. The schools and town share legal and financial services support, as well. 

Lyme-Old Lyme Schools Superintendent Ian Neviaser stands at the podium during Monday evening’s forum.

“There is a money issue here, we need to be frank about it,” said Neviaser, pointing out that significant redistribution of wealth from school districts with higher property values and tax base already occurs. 

Fifty-one percent of New London’s school budget is paid by the state, he said., as is over 60 percent of Norwich’s, 33 percent of Montville’s and 14 percent of East Lyme’s school budgets. Meanwhile, Lyme-Old Lyme Schools receive less than one percent of operating expenses from the state.

“There was no mention of improving educational outcomes in these regionalization proposals,” commented Tina Gilbert of Lyme. “It is because of our school district’s focus on that, we are in the top four in the country in education.  There is no discussion of parent involvement in schools; we are not wealthy or privileged people, we chose to live in this school district for our children.  What it takes to build [highly performing schools] is parent involvement, working with parents.”

When asked if they moved to their town because of the quality of the schools, a high number of people in the audience raised their hands.

While the majority of questions and comments addressed specifics of proposed legislation, the overarching issue of state fiscal problems and how to address government spending arose. Lyme and Old Lyme residents were some of the most vocal about the impact of proposed legislation on property values, taxes and the quality of local school districts.

“The majority of the state doesn’t have a problem, town government works in Connecticut, but Hartford is not responsible,” said Curt Deane of Lyme, pointing out a seven-page summary of education service-sharing produced by LEARN in February.  “The initial [regionalization] proposals would have raised my property taxes by 50 percent overnight. Taxes go up, property values go down. People have to understand, this is going to hit our property taxes and hit hard. This isn’t going to go away.” 

“We can’t be a state with only great little towns and not great cities,” Sen. Needleman said, citing imbalances of health care outcomes and school performance between wealthier communities and the state’s large cities. He continued, “While we don’t want to mess up what we have, we can’t turn our backs on the disparities.”

The legislators encouraged voters to speak up, write letters, follow grassroots organizations such as Hands Off Our Schools or form their own group to express concerns to elected officials.

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Rep. Carney, Local School Superintendents Host Forum Tonight on School Regionalization, Education

State Representative Devin Carney (R-23rd)

Lyme-Old Lyme Schools Superintendent Ian Neviaser

State Rep. Devin Carney (R-23rd) in conjunction with the School Superintendents from Lyme-Old Lyme (Ian Neviaser), Old Saybrook (Jan Perruccio) and Westbrook (Pat Ciccone) invite the public to attend an informational forum regarding education and school regionalization Thursday, April 11, at 6:30 p.m. at Old Saybrook Middle School Auditorium, 60 Sheffield St., Old Saybrook.

This event, which is free and open to the public, will provide an update on the status of state legislation affecting local public education, including forced regionalization. School regionalization has been a major topic of discussion during the 2019 legislative session, and this event will allow area residents to share their concerns, get their questions answered, and discuss potential alternatives.

For further information and any other concerns regarding state government, email State Rep. Carney at Devin.Carney@housegop.ct.gov or call 800-842-1423.

For further information on Lyme-Old Lyme Schools, contact Superintendent Ian Neviaser at neviaseri@region18.org or 860-434-7238.

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Sen. Needleman, Rep. Carney and Mclachlan Host Community Conversation in Westbrook

State Senator Norm Needleman (D-33rd)

State Representative Devin Carney (R-23rd)

State Senator Norm Needleman (D-33rd) and State Representatives Devin Carney (R-23rd) and Jesse MacLachlan (R-) will hold a Community Conversation event with the public this evening,  Wednesday, April 3. The event is scheduled to be held from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. at Westbrook Town Hall’s Multimedia Room, located at 866 Boston Post Rd. in Westbrook.

Sen. Needleman’s 33rd District includes Lyme, and State Rep. Carney’s 23rd District includes Lyme and Old Lyme.

Sen. Needleman and Reps. MacLachlan and Carney will discuss the state budget with members of the public, among a number of other important legislative issues.

“Getting out into the community is so important, as I can hear from the public first-hand about what issues impact them the most,” said Sen. Needleman. “There are a number of significant topics this legislative session, including bills dealing with school regionalization, which deserve our attention. I’m looking forward to sitting with Representatives MacLachlan and Carney to hear directly from Westbrook.”

“The 2019 legislative session is well underway and many people have been asking about topics ranging from the budget, taxes, tolls and school regionalization,” said Rep. Carney. “I am grateful that residents continue to take advantage of these types of events, am looking forward to discussing these and many other issues with folks in Westbrook on April 3 alongside Senator Needleman and Representative MacLachlan. I encourage all residents to attend this event or to reach out to my office with any legislative concerns.”

“I look forward to hearing from residents about some of the hot button issues including tolls, the forced regionalization of schools and the several tax increase proposals,” said Rep. MacLachlan. “It’s important for residents to have the opportunity to share their thoughts about legislation that will have a significant impact on their daily lives.”

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Needleman Proposes New School Regionalization Plan, Public Hearing Today on Another Proposal on Same Subject

State Senator Norm Needleman (D-33rd)

Yesterday State Senator Norm Needleman (D-33rd) proposed a new plan for school regionalization. His proposal would create legislation tailored to help school districts and municipalities cooperate to share services and resources on their own terms, in contrast to recent legislation that would mandate school changes.

Needleman appeared with East Haddam Selectman Robert Smith, Chester First Selectman Laurent Gister, Deep River First Selectman Angus McDonald, Essex Board of Education member Lon Seidman, Portland First Selectman Susan Bransfield and CABE Deputy Director and General Counsel Patrice McCarthy.

Watch this news clip from NBC to see a summary of what Needleman proposed.

The 33rd Senatorial District includes the Town of Lyme.

Today a public hearing will be held at 11 a.m. in Hartford on HB 7192, AN ACT CONCERNING MUNICIPAL AND REGIONAL OPPORTUNITIES AND EFFICIENCIES, a Governor’s Bill dealing generally with regionalization and shared services for local governments

Sections 7-10 of the bill are the same as Sections 1-4 of SB 874, the Governor’s Bill on school regionalization and shared services. If you have already submitted testimony to the Education Committee on school regionalization bills, this is an opportunity to comment before a different committee specifically on SB 874.

– Make sure to read the four sections of HB 7192 (again) and comment on them specifically (of course, you may also comment on any other sections you choose).

– Include only HB 7192 (same as first sections of SB 874) in your testimony, as this is the only language from the three school regionalization bills that is before Planning & Development.

Written testimony should be submitted by 9 a.m. to PDtestimony@cga.ct.gov

Sign-up to speak between 9 and 10 a.m. (lottery) in Room 1D.

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Needleman to Join with District, School Leaders Today in Hartford to Show Support for Shared Services, Resources by School Districts, Municipalities

State Senator Norm Needleman (D-33rd)

Today at 10 a.m. State Senator Norm Needleman (D-33rd) will join with district leaders and school officials in the Legislative Office Building Room 1A, in Hartford to voice their support for legislation tailored to help school districts and municipalities cooperate to share services and resources on their own terms, in contrast to recent legislation that would mandate school changes.

Needleman will appear with East Haddam Selectman Robert Smith, Chester First Selectman Laurent Gister, Deep River First Selectman Angus McDonald, Essex Board of Education member Lon Seidman, Portland First Selectman Susan Bransfield and CABE Deputy Director and General Counsel Patrice McCarthy.

The 33rd State Senatorial District includes Lyme.

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Op-Ed: Avoiding the Tragedy of Brexit

Photo by A Perry on Unsplash.

This op-ed by Senator Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) was first published Feb. 25, by TheHill.com.

In view of the MV2 (Meaningful Vote 2) regarding Brexit, which is being held today in the British Houses of Parliament, we felt its re-publication was highly relevant.

US Senator Chris Murphy (D-Conn.)

British Brexiteers and their U.S. cheerleaders promised a return to Britain’s glory days once they shed the bureaucratic constraints of the European Union. Steve Bannon celebrated Brexit as a victory for far-right nationalism and called for other countries to follow. The reality of Brexit, of course, is turning out to be entirely different. The economy will shrink by 7-10 percent, consumer prices will increase, unemployment will rise, and Britain will likely have to pay the EU to leave – not the other way around. Brexit will weaken Britain, the EU, and the entire Western alliance.

The question now is whether we will throw our lot in with those who want to break up hard-won international alliances, or take a stand in favor of a closer partnership between America and Europe. It would be a disaster if the United States reacted to Brexit in a way that encouraged more countries to leave the EU or other international organizations. We should not take seven decades of European peace for granted. After centuries of never-ending warfare and two world wars, stability in Europe is a core interest of the United States. We should also not take for granted how the allure of future EU membership has kept countries on its periphery promoting positive economic and democratic reform.  And Russia hawks in Washington should remember that one main goal of the Kremlin is to weaken the EU, the primary check on Putin’s hopes to restore the Soviet empire.

This is why the promise of a U.S.-Britain trade agreement, as a reward for Brexit, is such a bad idea. We have no better friend or ally on the planet than Britain. But this special relationship does not require us to jump off the same building they are. Those arguing for Britain’s hard exit from Europe claim that the United States will ride to the rescue and deliver a trade agreement that will repair the economic damage done by Brexit.  Russia cheers on this talk, because they know a U.S.-Britain deal might encourage other countries to leave the EU and expect a bilateral agreement with the United States as well.

At the very least, U.S. supporters of a post-Brexit trade deal with Britain should make clear the negotiated Brexit arrangement must protect the Northern Ireland peace process. A key pillar of the Good Friday Agreement was eliminating physical barriers and security checkpoints between Ireland and Northern Ireland. Pulling the legs out from this agreement by reestablishing a hard border risks upending the delicate balance of compromises that has maintained peace for the last twenty years. Even new technological infrastructure to monitor movement could be inflammatory. Recent surveys have found extreme antipathy in Northern Ireland for any type of north-south border checks. With our large Irish-American population and uniquely close relationship with the UK, the United States played an important role shepherding the peace process and must continue to safeguard the Good Friday agreement. We should be firmly against any Brexit agreement that doesn’t include the Irish backstop or other arrangement to protect the peace process.

When the UK government held the initial Brexit referendum, Brexit promoters implied that Britain could have its cake and eat it too. They claimed that Britain would make money by no longer having to contribute to the EU; that Britain would still be able to trade on favorable terms with the rest of Europe while being free from EU regulations; and that investment would continue to flow to Britain once it scrapped EU rules that were supposedly stifling their economy. It’s now clear that none of those things are true, and that very tough choices are now required. With this picture now clear, it would be wise to allow for a new referendum.

In the United States, instead of cheering on Brexit and promising individual agreements that weaken the EU, we should be doing the opposite – binding ourselves closer to the EU and negotiating a trade agreement that establishes the U.S.-EU bloc as a dominant force. In the coming decades, the size of China’s economy and military will continue to grow. The only way to prevent China from dictating terms in a world where they have significantly more influence is to join forces with Europe to agree on global standards going forward. While the special relationship will endure, Britain’s position will be stronger from within the EU rather than outside it.

The Irish poet Oscar Wilde once said there are only two tragedies in life: one is not getting what one wants, and the other is getting it. Nigel Farage, Steve Bannon, and their allies in the White House are close to getting what they want in Brexit, but the tragedy may yet be avoided.

U.S. Senator Chris Murphy is a member of the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

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Sen. Needleman Meets With Lyme Selectmen, Issues Statement on School Regionalization

State Senator Norm Needleman (D-33rd)

State Senator Norman Needleman (D-33rd), whose district includes Lyme, issued the following statement Monday on school regionalization proposals.

“On Monday afternoon, Sen. Needleman met with the Lyme Board of Selectmen and had an extended conversation with them about his work so far in the legislature, the policies he will and won’t support this legislative session, and how he can best work with the town.

The discussion featured school regionalization as a lead topic. Sen. Needleman has proposed Senate Bill No. 572, “An Act Encouraging Regional Cooperation Between School Districts,” which would allow multiple boards of education acting in concert to define their own school districts and have that collaboration recognized by the state as a Local Education Agency, or LEA. 

“Collaboration on school services can provide schools with increased efficiency and save both the schools and taxpayers money,” said Sen. Needleman, “Unfortunately, current law makes such collaborations complicated and discourages districts from actually engaging with one another.”

Needleman points to his hometown of Essex and its collaboration with Chester and Deep River for grades K-12. The towns are required to operate five boards of education with thirty-three board members in order to share costs and comply with current state statutes.

“There is a good argument to be made that one of the reasons why school districts aren’t doing more together is because of this level of complexity,” Needleman said. “We should be encouraging creative solutions that let our educators to do what they do best. No two school districts are the same; we should allow them to innovate and determine what works best for students.”

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