June 18, 2012

Local Middletown Republican Town Committee Summer Events

Anyone wishing to find out more information about the local Middletown Republican Town Committee should contact President Ken McClellan via the group's website,  or stop by one of the events. Those wishing to find out about candidates for state rep elections this fall may also want to stop by. All welcome.  http://middletownctgop.com/
Wednesday
Jun 20
Cruise Night
(postponed from Jun 13)
4:30 pm 
8:30 pm
Main Street
Middletown, CT
Information: Car Cruise
Saturday
June 23
MRTC Pig Roast1:00 pm
6:00 pm
Meriden Boat Club
267 Airline Ave
Portland, Ct
Contact:  Bill Wilson for tickets
Wednesday
July 18
Citizen's Bank 5K Summer 
Fun Run
5:00 pm
8:00 pm
Main Street
Middletown, CT
Information:JBSports
Wednesday
August 8
Motorcycle Mania4:30 pm 
??
Main Street
Middletown, CT
Information:MCMania

June 14, 2012

State Elections Commission Throws Out Allegations of Voter Fraud Against City Officials made by Wesleyan Student

The full document of the complaint & ruling is here:
 https://docs.google.com/file/d/0B1OYjxtLEgUwUElDbEJGRUE0QWs/edit?pli=1

Florsheim, Blumenthal, De Golia, photo from Middletown Patch, by C. Day
Wesleyan student  and Windsor CT native, Paulina Jones-Torregrosa filed a complaint with the State Elections Enforcement Commission accusing local City officials Incumbent Mayoral Candidate Sebastian Giuliano, Registrar of Voters Janice Gionfriddo (R), Registrar Anne Tommassi (D), and then candidate now Planning & Zoning Commissioner Molly Salafia of voter intimidation  & fraud during the last local election held in November 2011. Jones-Torregrosa alleges that by allowing students at the University who in the past were allowed to register to vote with P.O Box's to change this to an on campus address as it was found by the SEEC &  State Attorney General to be necessary by law, would cause undo steps for the students and impede their voting rights. The student alleges that by trying to help students remedy this before the election, the incumbent Mayor and Registrar's from both parties were committing voter fraud. The student also alleges that a letter  to a local blog by Salafia that was found by the SEEC to actually encourage  the voting students, and to vote across party lines (see last page of document above) was in her opinion voter intimidation and should be punishable by a felony fine and  mandatory imprisonment. The SEEC dismissed all allegations by the student, and in its conclusions, states that the Commission feels all were trying to help in making voting easier; the opposite of what Jones-Torregrosa alleges. It is unknown at the time if Jones-Torregrosa is or was a member of the Wesleyan College Democrats who  handed out flyers & wrote press releases along side student presidents Gabriela DeGolia and Ben Florsheim stating that the same accused persons were trying to intimidate students and encouraging student voters not to vote for them. Florsheim and DeGolia worked with various campus groups to mass register over 400 Wesleyan students and bus some of them to the polls for the last municipal elections.  Florsheim, who is president of the National College Democrats, claimed that the registering of students and bussing was a non partisan issue, but was quoted in the Wes Argus in September of 2011 that he and the Wesleyan Democrats would do everything possible to assist the Drew campaign. http://wesleyanargus.com/2011/04/29/students-prepare-for-mayoral-race/ Florsheim and DeGolia have since joined the local Democratic Town Committee.

June 12, 2012

Local Humanitarian Honored: Ron Krom

June 14th: Ron Krom St. Vincent DePaul executive director to be honored! 
Ron will soon be honored for his outstanding advocacy work at the Reaching Home 7th Annual Awards Dinner on June 14th from 5 - 8pm at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Cromwell.
Reaching Home, part of the Partnership for Strong Communities, is a campaign to build the political and civic will to prevent and end homelessness in Connecticut with the vision that no one should experience homelessness or be without a safe, stable place to call home. Each year, the organization celebrates the success of the Reaching Home campaign at a statewide event to honor a select few that have made a measurable impact. The Reaching Home Campaign serves as a unifying voice for ending homelessness for thousands of our neighbors in Connecticut.

June 8, 2012

Mayor Drew Gets Sneaky with Vet's Park Re-Design

The new Vet's Park by Linden Landscape Architects.
Just like Mayor Drew bypassed the public bid process for a design professional to draft an alternative to the proposed plan to turn Eckersley Hall into the new Senior Center having his own plans drawn to show an addition to City Hall; once again he has set the precedent to do the same with the large scale proposed changes underway for Veteran's Park. The alternate plans drawn up by an architect friend of the Mayor, paid for by taxpayer money, were never made available to the public.
**** Editors' note: 9/2/2014: Tom Linden of Linden Landscape Architects wrote to the insider via the comments & advised that his firm donated design services to Trees of Honor Inc., TOH is a non profit 501-3c organization. Our apologies for the false statement that the original concept plan was a taxpayer funded endeavor.
 ***
While the Insider thinks it is a valiant gesture to honor soldiers of course, the fact that a private company has already begun making changes to public property without the full input of the Common Council or any members of the public is setting a bad precedent. The Trees of Honor Memorial, by Trees of Honor Memorial Inc. donated trees to be planted at Vet's Park as reported by the Middletown Press Tuesday.
http://www.middletownpress.com/articles/2012/06/06/news/doc4fceb15f29b0d708018760.txt?viewmode=fullstory
Again & again Mayor Dan Drew
again makes huge
 decisions about taxpayer money without
 consulting the Council or public.
So much for Democracy.
 Of course, the Mayor's companion on his recent China vacation, bff Gov. Dannel Malloy was on hand. While Mayor Drew was on hand with a boastful speech about how the project will cost the taxpayers zero, we beg to differ. While the trees themselves have been donated, maintenance will then be the responsibility of the Park & Recreation Department. Right now the Park & Recreation Department does not have enough money in it's budget to pay workers to maintain and keep open all the current parks in Middletown through the summer. Cut from the Park & Recreation Department's budget by Mayor Drew is the cost of busing students to the Park & Recreation Summer Day camps, which many parents rely on for childcare. Neighborhood pick-ups were available last year for the student programs run at the local elementary schools, but not parents are on their own to get their children to and from the program. Councilman Todd Berch also tried to get a dog park past the Planning & Zoning Commission without a full public hearing & or any documented usage studies, & also claimed, we think falsely that since materials would be donated, that it would cost the taxpayers nothing.  The presentation did include picture of a dog and chain link fence, however in our opinion, little information needed for a complete application. The Insider wants to know:Why in the heck would Dan Drew add additional park improvements, when the current budget has cut out costs to adequately maintain the ones the City has??
This seems to be a trend with the Democrats in office in Middletown; get items "donated" to the City by cronies, get a pat on the back, then stick tax payers with the maintenance costs.
Didn't your mom ever tell you nothing in this world is completely free?What Mayor Drew failed to report at the ground breaking ceremony is that in addition to the trees being donated to Veteran's Park, the plans drawn by the landscape architect hired by Trees of Honor Memorial Inc. show a dog park, a pond, statues, additional paved parking, and additional cleared paths and picnic areas.  The law states that improvements to public land need not go before the Common Council, and money spent that falls under $750,000 need not go to referendum, however; the Insider feels it a pretty sneaky practice to allow a "private" company to "develop public  land for the common good" as in this case, then leave it up to taxpayers to fund the maintenance of such a project without them having had a say in its conception. Not only does this bypass the public bidding process and the chance for other local professionals to seek work and a chance to take part in the project, but it also has the potential to set the "private company" who has generously donated its services to receive grant money from the City later on down the road if in fact they cannot finish the project. So in fact this precedent opens the door for the Mayor to give away public projects to friends & cronies, continue to forego public bidding, spend taxpayer's money without their consent, and most importantly abuse his power under the guise of doing it for "the greater good."

Celebrate Saturday With Rocky Hill-Glastonbury Ferry

This report originally appeared at Rocky Hill Patch: Saturday June 9,,,

  Anyone who wants to cross the Connecticut River on the nation’s oldest continuously operating ferry service can do it this Saturday for free. The Friends of the Connecticut River Ferries along with the Department of Transportation will be hosting an open house day celebration on Saturday, which is part of a statewide event. The state is offering Connecticut residents discounted or free admission, free gifts, special exhibits and activities at more than 175 destinations across the state. In Rocky Hill, the open house, which will run from 10:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., will feature the following:
  • Exhibits
  • Activities
  • Food
  • Music
Continue reading at Rocky Hill Patch

June 7, 2012

BOE Seeks Community Imput- For Real This Time


The  Middletown Board of Education is seeking community members to serve on committees.
Hopefully with more transparency, and the Evil Triumvirate gone, another million dollars won't disappear!
Description of Board of Education Committees
Committee
Description
Date & Time
Budget
The committee reviews the current budget monthly and makes recommendation to the BOE regarding next year’s budget and other spending items.
2nd Monday of the month
at 4 p.m.
Communications
The committee currently reviews the district’s website, and is charged with highlighting events in the district
3rd Wednesday of the month
at 4 p.m.
Curriculum
This committee's charge is to be apprised by the Assistant Superintendent of district curriculum, give input on it, support (or not) new curriculum proposals that will eventually go to the entire Board. This committee receives an abundance of information on district programs, curricula, etc.
It is comprised of 3 Board members, the Assistant Superintendent and when available, a community representative. The Assistant Superintendent brings teachers and administrators as necessary to offer their expertise.

3rd Tuesday of the month
at 9:30 a.m.
Policy
This committee's role is to set and review policies for the school district. The committee is comprised of 3 Board members, Kathy Bengtson (from Central Office) and when available, a community representative. It is usually joined by the administrators to assist in policy setting and review.

3rd Tuesday of the month
at 8 a.m.

June 5, 2012

Middletown's Tangled Web of Nepotism & Cronyism

So many connections it is hard for
 anyone to keep straight!
But if you thought Drew is new player
and not entrenched, boy were you wrong.
Irony is Mayor Drew co-sponsoring a job & resume workshop at Russel Library this week when he in fact inflated his resume, and is allowing exactly what he preached against- nepotism, cronyism, and dishonesty in government.
No credit has ever been given  to Former Mayor Seb Giuliano, and for that matter Christine Bourne who uncovered significant wrongdoing at the BOE as far as the million dollar discrepancy and pushed the issue - maybe a little harder than the public wanted, but he got the results. The Democrats consistently tried to block attempts to reform the BOE administration, including Mayor Dan Drew by trying to sweep on going labor disputes under the rug. The new administration was forced to deal with it when the audit came out with huge discrepancies and parents came out rightfully outraged over the "scream room" fiasco The current Democrats on the Common Council are trying to cash in on something that was started by Republicans.  Dr. David Larson is a breath of fresh air, as is Gene Nocera (D), along with new efforts by Shiela Daniels(D) and the new BOE members. However, Mayor Drew and the council have a lot to make up for. Mayor Drew stated in his own words he would end nepotism practices in City government. 

Drew wrote: "Above all, I want to make Middletown’s government honest. For years, the city has suffered through decisions made in the best interests of municipal contractors and private developers who have political or familial connections."

Drew need not look further than his own party, whom he has yet to call out for wrongdoing. In 2009, Drew made statements published in the Wesleyan Argus stating “If the Water Department were a private organization in would be bankrupt.”  Former Finance Director James Reynolds was called in under the Giulaino administration to aid in correcting the accounting problems and when problems continued compounded by labor issues, Giuliano moved the Water Dept. to City Hall for closer monitoring by the Finance Dept. Upon his election, less than one month later, Drew moved the department back to its satellite location on River Road. The Department Director is Guy Russo, cousin of Democratic Councilman Tom Serra.

Democratic Councilwoman Hope Kasper played a huge part in the hiring of her own son-in-law, Joshua Burger at the BOE.  Mr. Burger was first hired as a temporary employee (and given health insurance benefits) to fill a vacancy which is the subject of a union grievance (still outstanding).  While the union’s issues are still making their way through the process with the State of Connecticut, Mr. Burger has been appointed by the Board of Education administration to the Payroll Supervisor position without following union posting requirements.   This was the position that Ms. Bourne was removed from by the BOE and also was part of the settlement agreement brokered by Judge Holzberg between the City and BOE; however, rather than filling the position properly, the BOE stated that they no longer needed the position.  This was called to question by several Republican candidates during the past election, yet the general public ignored this fact and Kasper won anyway.  It should be noted that Judge Holzberg is the spouse of a former Democratic Mayor of the City of Middletown. Holzberg has a close personal relationship with Superintendent Michael Frechette.

 Former Superintendent Michael Frechette openly and vigorously campaigned for Drew and Serra. Board of Education member Ted Razcka's wife is Assistant Registrar of Voters, a fulltime position with benefits but picked and appointed by the Democratic Registrar of Voters; ironically Razcka was the only member to vote EXTEND Business Manager Nancy Haynes contract after the audit showed there was $1 million in deficit. It was voted to get rid of Haynes 8-1. Razcka, ironically of course, was also the only hold out not to get rid of Frechette.  It cannot be ignored by the community that the relationship of Councilman Tom Serra to the Board of Education is also a long one. Allegations have been made repeatedly in public & during Council Meetings by former Middletown public school teacher Sal Carricoglia about Jason Serra, assistant coach at Middletown High and son of Tom Serra, and a cover up of  misconduct regarding the younger Serra's job performance. While yes, these are  rumors, the have never been fully aired, and yes, Carricoglia himself was dismissed from his position for alleged on the job misconduct; it is hard for the public to be able to discern the truth when any statements by Frechette are tainted with that fact he publicly campaigned for Serra and has a long standing personal relationship. Judge Holzberg presided over Carricoglia's latest trial. Councilman Serra stated publically that he did not feel Chief McMahon was entrenched enough in the community because he did not worship here, a statement that was made on record, and therefore Serra did not support the appointment of the Chief. Serra instead pushed for the installment of Chief McKenna, another fine officer. Carrogolia alleges that McKenna and Frechette were both part of the cover up of the misconduct of Jason Serra on the job, and thus support of McKenna for Chief is a favor on the elder Serra's behalf. We at the Insider don't mean to perpetuate slanderous rumors, but we think that the public should be made aware of all ties of those in elected office, and our Mayor should take a stand and bring these allegations to light to dismiss them once and for all.
 Ironically, after McKenna took the position of chief, Serra's nephew was made part of the police force. In a town of 40,000 such as Middletown it is no doubt that there are familial ties; at the Insider we see  nothing wrong with the hiring of relatives so long as they are qualified and all job candidates are given equal opportunity.  With Frechette gone, Dr. David Larson is charged with the daunting task of reviving the Board of Education administration, we can as citizens can only hope that when the position of Head Coach, that is currently on the BOE agenda as becoming vacant in June, that Dr. Larson fully & impartially vet the best person into that vacancy despite family ties, owed favors, or past affiliations if in fact they do exist.
 What happened to honesty in hiring practices?? It is also pertinent that  Mayor has proposed a relaxing of the qualifications for the position of City Attorney, against the unanimous opposition of the Personnel Review Committee and after posting it twice. There are many applicants who meet the current, higher standard so why does the Mayor want to "dumb down" the qualifications? Only one conclusion - he has a crony in mind who doesn't currently qualify. So much for "making government honest" 
All allegations true or false should be brought to daylight and discussed publicly, so that finally the citizens get the truth- and our new Mayor despite a shared political party should do no less than demand it.

Veterans to be Honored Today

ANNOUNCEMENT on TUESDAY JUNE 5, 2012 in MIDDLETOWN

MIDDLETOWN – The CT Trees of Honor Memorial organization on Tuesday will announce plans to build at Veterans Memorial Park in Middletown a statewide memorial to the armed service men and women of Connecticut who have fallen in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Joining them at the announcement on Tuesday in Middletown will be Gov. Dannell P. Malloy, Middletown Mayor Daniel T. Drew, and representatives from American Legion Post 75 in Middletown as well as President Larry McHugh of the Middlesex Chamber of Commerce.

The memorial will have a tree dedicated to each fallen member of the armed services and will be paid for with private donations. The City of Middletown will construct apond in the center of the memorial.

Who: Gov. Dannell P. Malloy; Mayor Daniel T. Drew; President of CT Trees of Honor Memorial Sue Martucci; Middlesex Chamber President Larry McHugh; American Legion post 75 representatives
What: Media Announcement regarding the construction of a statewide memorial to each fallen member of the armed services from Connecticut during the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Where: Veterans Memorial Park, Middletown CT
When: Tuesday, June 5 2012, 4 p.m.

From the CT Trees of Honor Memorial Web site at http://www.connecticuttreesofhonormemorial.org/

The Connecticut Trees of Honor Memorial, Inc. Committee is pleased to announce plans to construct a living trees memorial in central Connecticut in 2012. The Memorial will encompass a beautifully designed space that willinclude a shade tree planted for each of our State's heroes who gave their life serving in OEF, OIF, and OND. A personalized plaque will be displayed next to each tree. The Memorial will be funded and constructed with public donations and volunteer efforts. It will also feature walkways, flower gardens, benches, flagpoles, statues and lighting. It will be a serene, reflective area wherefamilies, friends, and visitors can be reminded of the valiant courage, bravery, and self-less sacrifice of our Connecticut men and women who gave their lives in military service to our country.