Monday, August 31, 2015

Opinion: Artificial Turf at City Fields by John Milardo

I guess you can get as many pro-artificial turf reports as you can con. Put that aside, and there still is the issue of increased injuries to players as well as maintenance costs. The initial cost of constructing of an artificial turf field will negate any perceived savings related to maintenance. The maintenance cost difference of artificial versus natural turf is between $5-$8 thousand per field/per year. The City already has all the equipment and knowledge for the upkeep of natural fields. What is lacking is proper budget funding and the number of department personnel needed to do a proper job. 
No matter if every field was artificial turf, the current work force would be concentrating all their efforts on the upkeep of athletic fields. Nothing else would receive any attention or funding, as currently occurs. 
Several years ago, the City was sold a bill of goods that all youth soccer needed was to have the taxpayers chip in for the fields at Country Club and Longhill Roads and they would use very few City fields. What happened? 
I don't know if it still is the case, but both soccer and little league did not want to use certain fields on a regular basis because they were too far from the center of town, or in the center of town. We also had game fields and practice fields policy (list), which helped out immensely for improvement to all game fields...for a while. Then both leagues would ignore the policy, and complain about field conditions. 
How can the City pay for an increase in materials and personnel for the Parks Division? Well, our city fathers are bonding everything now a days, so if they leave the extra $10 million dollars in the current bond for natural turf, they could use that money for the Parks Division....only!
You say that is illegal or unethical? Not really. In road bonds the City pays for the Public Works Departments overtime for curbing and backfilling, catch basins, etc., from the bond. So there is precedent to follow.
Here's a novel idea. How about curtailing the number of bodies who play in the leagues, and match them to a schedule which is conducive to the number of fields available. Something has to give. The City doesn't have additional land to build more fields on, and the locations of many of the sites our fields are currently on belong either to the State of Connecticut or Board of Education. 
The only pro-artificial turf comment I agree with is that if it rains, you can play on the field immediately. If that is the only concern, that's a high price the taxpayer is being asked to pay for a few rain dates that are already incorporated into all athletic schedules.
Just a thought!
John Milardo, Middletown

Editor's Note: Mr. Milardo is a retired  Parks Superintendent for the Parks & Recreation Department and employee of the City of Middletown for 42 years. 

Mayor Drew Calls for Special Council Meeting on Artificial Turf Bond

Good morning councilmembers,
There has been constructive discussion this week regarding how we balance a natural grass approach to field construction with the growing demand for those fields amongst the sports programs. I am writing today to share with you a compromise that will increase field capacity, keep grass fields, and save taxpayers money from the original proposal.
As you are aware, designing and building grass fields is less expensive than turf, which begged the question of whether it would be appropriate to request a bond authorization that included funds for artificial turf fields when that additional money wasn’t necessary.
Additionally, one of the benefits of turf fields was the ability to meet higher demand from our athletic community. The parks bond proposal — even with its amendment requiring the use of grass only — provides a variety of benefits beyond new athletic fields of which we should not lose sight: new walkways, new ¼ mile track, tennis courts, bike trails, playgrounds, splash pads, a public pool, new crew docks, and a variety of other improvements throughout the city. This is a once-in-a-generation project that will benefit our children and theirs for decades to come.
The concern from some following the vote to remain with grass fields was that the supply and demand problem we currently face would not be alleviated by simply reconstructing the existing nine fields mentioned in the report.
I would be loathe to jeopardize all of the public benefits in this plan by asking for a bond authorization higher than what would be necessary to carry out those improvements.
Therefore, I am calling a special meeting of the Common Council at 6 p.m., on Wednesday, September 2, 2015 to consider and act upon the following:
1. A reduction in the bond ordinance from $36.95 million to $33.45 million. This is a savings of $3.5 million. The reduction to this number was recommended by Milone and Macbroom — the engineering firm that conducted the parks study.

2. The inclusion in the bond ordinance of language that gives us the ability to add new grass fields on any public or school property deemed appropriate by a building committee. Milone and Macbroom believes we can build up to six additional grass fields that will enable us to meet our demand while saving $3.5 million.

3. A revision to the resolution authorizing a referendum question to reflect the aforementioned changes.
This means that we can build more grass fields than turf fields to meet demand and do so for less money. These changes will do three major things that will benefit our community:
1. Save the taxpayers $3.5 million in bonded debt
2. Give us up to six additional playing fields, which Milone and Macbroom says will meet the capacity needs of our leagues
3. Enable us to ensure that all fields are grass and that they are properly constructed with appropriate drainage and irrigation systems that will make the maintenance process easier and less expensive in the long run
We will have more grass fields for less money, ensuring that our parks bond is environmentally and fiscally sustainable while meeting and exceeding the needs of our community’s sports leagues.
Meeting warrants will be forthcoming this afternoon. Please let me know if you have any questions.
Respectfully,

Mayor Daniel Drew

City Sports Leagues Rally to Support Artificial Turf at City Fields

Letter to the Editor:
The youth sports organizations of middletown were told this was a "slam dunk". The mayor was behind it. We went to several meetings where the council was behind it. We were told that the director would keep us in the loop as far as public comment meetings were concerned.

We got calls the afternoon of the special meeting (much shorter notice than previous) to tell us about it.
With many sports now in the midst of fall practices, and the confidence exuded by the powers that be, there was a low turn out from the youth sports leagues and the thousands of parent/voters that make up our memberships. I hope Mr. Serra gets his revote, we will be there.
I personally will not vote to approve 37 million with out the artificial turf. I need to know:
a) What exactly are we doing to the parks.
b) The cost.

The artificial turf was a HUGE part of that 37 million.
Join the movement, make yourself heard.
https://www.facebook.com/pages/Middletown-Residents-for-Artificial-Turf-Fields/515054258642403

Mike C.

Comments on Artificial Turf on City Fields by Darrel Ponzio

Below is a letter from Darrel Ponzio regarding artificial turf proposed for 9 city fields as part of a referendum for parks maintenance. 
--------------------


The Study and Recommendations

In April 2015, at the request of the City of Middletown’s Public Works Department, Milone & MacBroom provided a thorough analysis of the City’s parks and recreation facilities.  There are three components to the study:  1) an analysis of the existing conditions at each facility, 2) a demand analysis, and 3) recommendations for improving the facilities.  This effort was commissioned to support an anticipated bonding referendum for a program that has two overall goals:  
  1. To thoughtfully and with appropriate vision, build a capital improvement program that would offer the city’s residents modern, useable, maintainable and sustainable park and recreational facilities.
  2. To provide sufficient facilities for all athletic programs, inclusive of practices and games, now and in the future, as appropriate to each such athletic program.  This would include fields of appropriate size, markings and conditions, with reasonable availability for the various seasons needed.
A common theme in the current-state analysis was that the rectangular fields and diamonds are overused; resulting in compaction, weed growth and large bare/dirt areas.  The conclusions of the study are many with specific recommendations for each identified facility.  Among the many recommendations, a keystone to the overall study is the recommendation for new artificial turf installation and natural turf renovations as follows:
  1. Lawrence School – natural turf renovation of the multi-use and softball fields.
  2. Moody School – natural turf renovation of the baseball ball and 1 softball field.  Installation of artificial turf for the rectangular field and the 2nd softball field that will add an “overlay” rectangular field.  Both artificial turf fields are lighted with existing field lights.
  3. Snow School – natural turf renovation of all existing fields.
  4. Wesley School – natural turf renovation of all existing fields.
  5. Woodrow Wilson & Pat Kidney - installation of artificial turf fields for Pat Kidney and Woodrow Wilson, to accommodate baseball, softball and a rectangular “overlay” field at Pat Kidney and a rectangular multi-use field at Woodrow Wilson.  All fields would be lighted.
  6. Hubbard Park – installation of artificial turf on both baseball fields.
  7. Smith Park – natural turf renovation of the baseball and rectangular fields.
  8. Country Club Road Complex – natural turf renovation of 1 field and artificial turf installation at two rectangular fields.
  9. Long Hill Road Complex – natural turf renovation of the two existing fields.
  10. McCutcheon Park – natural turf renovation of the existing baseball, softball and rectangular “overlay” fields
As shown above, the recommendations offer a balance of natural and artificial playing surfaces to ensure the city can meet the demand for field hours with accommodations that can stand up to the volume of usage expected.  It should be noted that the study does not recommend the creation of any new fields or facilities.  This is because the combination of artificial and natural turf facilities would accommodate the current and future demands of all the city’s athletic programs’ demands.  Critical to understand is that the each artificial turf field yields between 2 and 4 times as much available playing time as natural turf fields.  According a Montgomery County Turf Report in 2011, “…even under the most conservative assumptions, an artificial turf field provides hours of use equivalent to approximately 3 natural grass fields.  In other words, to achieve the same programming benefit of one artificial turf field, three natural turf fields would have to be build and maintained.”  This is because artificial turf fields require no “rest”, mowing, watering, fertilizing, aerating, or lining at any time.  They can be used during and immediately after rain events, and they are lined for all sports that may possibly use the field, which allows for immediate transition from one sport to another on any given day.

Common Council Vote and Impacts to Improvement Program

On Monday August 24, 2015 at the regularly schedule Common Council meeting, the Council was slated to vote on the bond legislation with a planned referendum in the November 2015 election.  At the meeting, a group of approximately 25 environmentally conscious residents offered their opinions on health concerns of artificial turf fields.  In particular, the concerns centered around the potential for cancer-causing agents in the crumb rubber infill used on artificial turf fields.  A proposal was put forth to alter the bond language to specifically exclude any artificial turf fields from the program.  The motion was seconded and voted to a tie.  Following procedure, the Mayor had to cast the deciding vote in favor of the motion.  

Unfortunately, this entire process was conducted without ensuring that the Council members and Mayor had all the necessary factual information at hand.  Even more unfortunately, the vote hog-ties the City and the Public Works Department by prohibiting the option to use artificial turf fields – and this effectively nullifies the most important benefit of the entire program, which is to build a set of facilities that can accommodate the demands of all the city’s recreational and athletic programs now and in the future.

Health Concerns – Fact and Emotion

In October 2014, NBC News published reports on safety concerns related to the crumb rubber infill on artificial turf fields using an informal set of observations from a soccer coach at the University of Washington.  The coach identified an alarming trend that correlated frequent use (and in particular rolling around on) turf fields with increased risk of certain cancers.  This kind of concern understandably hits home with all parents, including me.  Many towns, schools and colleges looking to renovate and improve their sports facilities look carefully at artificial turf.  These organizations are fully aware of the health-related concerns as well as the potential legal risks of installing facilities with known (or what can be reasonably known) health risks.  And yet we continue to see artificial turf being installed all around us.  Wesleyan University and Fairfield University both installed new artificial turf fields in the last 18 months.  Here are the facts that have been made available to the City of Middletown’s Common Council, Planning and Zoning and Public Works Departments:
  1. Letter from The Commonwealth of Massachusetts to Health Department of Town of Medway MA, March 2015 – “…the scientific literature continues to suggest that exposure opportunities to artificial turf fields are not generally expected to result in health effects.  Testing results on the crumb rubber infill indicated lead content less than CPSIA statutory limits established for children’s products.  For the turf fibers, APT provided a statement that this material did not have lead used in its manufacture, but no additional documentation was provided…With respect to cancer concerns reported in the media stories, it is important to note that the reports of cancers were of a wide variety of different types, each with its own set of risk factors.”  The letter does recommend some common sense best practices to minimize any potential exposure including the washing of hands after each event.  This kind of recommendation would be the same for natural turf fields.
  2. State of Connecticut DEEP, Result of State Artificial Turf Fields Study: No Elevated Health Risk, July 2010 – “A new study of artificial turf fields containing crumb rubber infill conducted by four state agencies shows that health risks are not elevated from playing on the fields…The four state agencies, the University of Connecticut Health Center, the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station, the Department of Public Health and the Department of Environmental Protection evaluated the health and environmental impacts associated with artificial turf fields containing crumb rubber infill.  Overall, approximately 200 chemicals were tested at each field.” 
  3. Artificial Turf Study, Leachate and Stormwater Characteristics, Department of Environmental Protection, July 2010 – “The DEP concludes that there is a potential risk to surface waters and aquatic organisms associated with the whole effluent and zinc toxicity of stormwater runoff from artificial turf fields…the study did not identify any significant risks to groundwater protection criteria in the stormwater runoff from artificial turf fields.”  To mitigate any risks associated with runoff water, the report offers suggested measures to reduce zinc concentrations.
  4. A Scoping-Level Field Monitoring Study of Synthetic Turf Fields and Playgrounds, United States Environmental Protection Agency, November 2009 – “…All Particulate Matter (“PM10”) air concentrations were well below National Ambient Air Quality Standards for PM10.  All concentrations for lead were well below the NAAQS for lead…The average extractable lead concentrations for turf blade, tire crumb infill, and tire crumb rubber were low.  Although there are no standards for lead in recycled tire material or synthetic turf, average concentrations were well below the EPA standard for lead in soil...Likewise the average extractable lead concentrations for turf field wipe samples were low.  Although there are no directly comparable standards, average concentrations were well below EPA standards for lead in residential floor dust.”
  5. EHS Circular Letter #2015-02, Re: Recent News Concerning Artificial Turf Fields, State of Connecticut Department of Public Health, January 20, 2015 – “Various media outlets have continued to run this story and a number of local health departments have inquired as to its validity.  Since many Connecticut towns have installed or are considering artificial turf fields an elevated cancer risk would be an important consideration.  However, this news story is still based upon very preliminary information and does not change CTDPH’s position that outdoor artificial turf fields do not represent an elevated health risk…The Connecticut Department of Public Health has evaluated the potential exposures and risks from athletic use of artificial turf fields.  Our study of 5 fields in Connecticut in 2010-2011 was a comprehensive investigation of releases from the fields during active play.  This study was conducted as a joint project with the CT DEEP and the University of CT Health Center and was peer-reviewed by the Connecticut Academy of Science and Engineering.  Our study did not find a large amount of vapor or particle release from the fields confirming prior reports from Europe and the US.  We put these exposures into a public health context by performing a risk assessment. Our risk assessment did not find elevated cancer risk…The Connecticut Department of Public Health has evaluated the potential exposures and risks from athletic use of artificial turf fields.  Our study of 5 fields in Connecticut in 2010-2011 was a comprehensive investigation of releases from the fields during active play.  This study was conducted as a joint project with the CT DEEP and the University of CT Health Center and was peer-reviewed by the Connecticut Academy of Science and Engineering.  Our study did not find a large amount of vapor or particle release from the fields confirming prior reports from Europe and the US.  We put these exposures into a public health context by performing a risk assessment. Our risk assessment did not find elevated cancer risk…Our risk assessment did cover carcinogens that are known to be in recycled tires and the crumb rubber used to cushion fields.  Once again, we found there to be very little exposure of any substances, carcinogenic or not, in the vapors and dust that these fields generate under active use, summer conditions.  Background levels of chemicals in urban and suburban air from heating sources and automobile traffic are much more significant sources of airborne carcinogens.  The fact that we sampled 5 fields (4 outdoor and 1 indoor) of different ages and composition suggests that the results can be generalized to other fields, a conclusion supported by the fact that results were similar to what was found in California, USEPA and European studies..  Our study did not evaluate ingestion of the crumb rubber itself as players are unlikely to ingest an entire rubber pellet.  However, two studies, one in California and one at Rutgers University did evaluate the cancer risk if children ingested a mouthable chunk of playground rubber (10 gram), using laboratory extraction methods to estimate the amount of chemicals that might become available in the stomach and absorbed into the body.  Both studies found very low cancer risk from this scenario (Cal OEHHA 2007; Pavilonis et al. 2014).  Thus, CT DPH finds no scientific support for a finding of elevated cancer risk from inhalation or ingestion of chemicals derived from recycled tires used on artificial turf fields.  US EPA has a similar position: “At this point, EPA does not believe that the field monitoring data collected provides evidence of an elevated health risk resulting from the use of recycled tire crumb in playgrounds or in synthetic turf athletic fields.”   “In summary, federal and state authorities have taken seriously the concerns that artificial turf fields may present a health risk due to contaminants in recycled rubber.  The best way to investigate these concerns is via an exposure investigation.  Studies conducted in Connecticut and elsewhere have shown a very low exposure potential, less than from typical outdoor sources of air pollution.  The current news reports of a list of soccer players with cancer does not constitute a correlation or causality and thus raises a concern that currently lacks scientific support.   Thus, the CT DPH position expressed in 2011 at the conclusion of the Connecticut study, that outdoor artificial turf fields do not represent an elevated health risk, remains unchanged.” 

Based on the above sampling of facts provided from a reasonable cross-section of objective health organizations and other governmental agencies and notably devoid of any lobbies or industry groups, one must conclude that the installation and use of artificial turf fields presents health risks to players, coaches and fans that are no greater than natural turf fields.

Conclusions and Recommended Actions

Any actions suggested by City agencies and voted on by the Common Council should have in mind the best interests of the City of Middletown and its residents.  In this case, the Common Council is being shouldered with the responsibility to put forth a referendum to the residents of the City that will fund improvements and renovations to the City’s parks, recreation and athletic facilities such that the City’s residents can enjoy premier facilities that can reasonably be expected to accommodate all current and future demands for use by the City’s many athletic programs.  The vote on Monday August 24th, 2015 to specifically exclude artificial turf fields from the improvement program flies in the face of the recommendations of the Public Works Department and those of Milone & MacBroom.  The vote was purported to address environmental and health concerns that are based on emotion and hearsay.  Although it might be hard to argue the pleasure of using a well manicured and maintained natural turf field, the reality is that offering a sufficient number of such fields, absent the building of a number of additional natural turf fields, is not viable under the existing plan and bonding referendum.  
When considered from a practical and pragmatic perspective, the installation of a balanced number of artificial and natural turf fields, as was the case in original the bond referendum language, is the most beneficial approach to improvements for the City’s parks and athletic facilities.

I call on Mayor Dan Drew and Council Members Bartolotta, Kasper, Kleckowski, Streeto and Santangelo to propose a Request to Reconsider so that the full Council can evaluate the language and vote on legislation that takes into consideration the objectives of the program, the fact-based risks and the impacts to any changes to the original language.  I also ask the Council to fully evaluate the documentation provided by the Planning and Zoning Commission, much of which was referenced in this letter, and to work with appropriate resources to either propose adoption of the originally worded referendum or offer an alternative that would ensure that the original objectives of the program can be met.

Lastly, I call on all City residents to become fully informed of the needs, benefits, and fact-based risks associated with this improvement program.  The $37 million for this proposed program is not a small amount of money.  The benefits to the City go well beyond available playing time to increased property values, increased bond ratings, increased revenue to local businesses and thus increased tax revenues.

Respectfully,

Darrell Ponzio

Friday, August 28, 2015

American Legion Post 75 Resumes Monthly Breakfasts! August 29!

Located on Bernie O'Rourke Drive! $6, open to the public 8am-10 am.  Milardo-Wilcox American Legion Breakfast Saturday, 8/29/15. 

American Legion Post 75, photo/graphic credit Bill Maune. 

Middlesex Community College Veterans' Club to Open Garden in Fall



MxCC Veteran Club members got together over 4 days in July to build a seating area with pavers, seat wall, and bench to be surrounded by sustainable plants and shrubs to make a place to honor and remember all men and women who served in the armed forces up to and including paying the ultimate Sacrifice. The Granite Slant Monument with the Dedication Plaque was installed July 19th. The Club is waiting for one more stepping stone to represent the Army National Guard and then we will plan a MxCC Veterans Memorial Garden Dedication in early September.The Veterans’ Club gives back to the community with events such as hot dog fundraisers and making care packages for troops. For more information, contact Peter Galgano, veterans outreach coordinator, at (860) 343-5797 or pgalgano@mxcc.edu.
 https://www.facebook.com/pages/MxCC-Veterans-Club/
(photo credits from the Club's facebook page)

Editors' note :Updates on this great place provided by Bill Maune: http://patch.com/connecticut/middletown-ct/mxcc-veterans-memorial-garden-update

http://patch.com/connecticut/middletown-ct/are-you-veteran

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Your Daily Spin: Lock your doors it's artificial turf!!!

We've been called jejune, mean spirited, sensationalist, satirical by other media all of which is true, liars we ain't. However, today's spin comes from the NIMBY do-as-I-say not-as-I-do Ed4Ed folks over at the Eye ( now picked up by the Mess), considered by many prefferred unbiased (cough cough) upper crust of sophisticated M-town "news" bloggery; you decide.

 On Monday, 25 citizens convinced the Common Council that despite scientific evidence supporting the contrary & a report by an outside engineering consultant Milone & McBroom explaining cost savings & benefits, artificial turf is dangerous to peoples health. The $37 million bond referendum now reads that no artificial can be used on city fields. Currently, the high school has a synthetic football field. Soccer coaches at the meeting argued a lengthened playing season as an advantage of synthetic over natural grass. Councilwoman Mary Bartolotta (D) lead the charge to strip the synthetic turf language from the ordinance & Mayor Drew cast the tie breaking vote. Absent were councilmembers Sandra Russo- Driska and  Carl Chisem. A medical doctor from the audience testified to synthetic turf being safe.  Jonah Center founder John Hall, Conservation Commisdion members, Superintendent Pat Charles and BOE member Ed McKeon spoke of supposed "known" health hazards of synthetic turf but failed to provide evidence.

The City Council was considering installing synthetic turf at 9 of the city owned playing fields as part of  $37 million referendum package including parks improvements to be voted on this fall by citizens. The bond amount without synthetic turf as an option amounts to $10 million, however, the council failed to reduced the ordinance before passing it on to the public for a referendum vote. As it stands, the entire amount will be borrowed & goes to citizens to vote on in November.

Prior to the meeting, a  letter from a newly formed local activist group  (?) ECoin - made of up what seem to be wannabe scientists branched off from the Jonah Center - Rev. John Hall - I want wife killer David Messenger freed to worship- for Earth Air Art & Green$$ Folkers - which can be read over at the Eye's website outlining the "danger" to children and "potential cancer risk" confirmed not by a scientific study, but MSNBC and a soccer goalie who swears on Al Gore's hair piece that synthetic turf causes cancer in children.

We would like to issue this PSA Disclaimer before reading the letter:
1. We get a lot of sh*t for siging as a collective Middletown Insider and not our God given names- this letter is signed ECoin group; "Treefanatic." Treefanatic is resident arborist Jane Harrris indicated on past posts, just sayin'!  Other "experts" in this ECoin group? Just regular lay people not scientists. Guess it's OK when you're of a particular political persuasion...

2. The article cited is by MSNBC which cites a Yale study & an EPA study which concluded that synthetic turf was found NOT to be harmful as far as causing cancer. The article states that both studies were NOT inconclusive, but they were conslusive. If further study was done, which they both suggested maybe a link might be found. Who knows. The author of the Ecoin letter says almost definitively that the studies were inconclusive. The original article Ecoin's letter improperly cites can be read here:  Read it for yourself and don't rely on anyone's - especially this groups sour regurgitation.

A 2010 study by CT DEP determined no added risks. In fact, the Board of Heath for Mass, NY &; California all came to the same conclusion. The City of Boston just voted down this spring a proposed moratorium on the use of synthetic turf at its city's fields due to lack of evidence of risks. Click below to enlarge concise letter outlining these studies. In  January 2015, the CT Dept. Of Public Health reissued a letter discouraging the circulation of false claims about synthetic fields. Prior in 2008, Attorney General Richard Blumenthal suggested prosecution for those perpetuating claims.


The ECoin article  cites non profit research that just happens to have been performed by lobbyist for organic field companies, which just happen to compete with the synthetic guys, conflict much?






Wednesday, August 26, 2015

"Today" by Jerry Augustine

Guest blog by local Jerry Augustine.

Today I….
Today I... crawled out of my cloud, (aka king size bed) , which I cling to the edge as if I am about to slide down the side of a mountain. I do not know why I do this as there is about an acre of space on this mattress where I could spread out doing perpetual snow eagles all over it. I also have recurring dreams, or you could easily reclassify them as nightmares, of falling in space. I do hope I never land!

I made my way to the Klekolo coffee shop, still in a cloud, because as I get older it takes about two hours before my head clears to face the wonderments of todays society. We meet daily at approximately 6:30 a.m. to discuss whatever is on someones mind at that time of day. There is an interesting group of characters that show up to have their morning jolt.

There are bicyclists , runners, police officers, retirees, bank officials, war veterans, mechanics, journalists, and those heading to work at their day jobs. Those are the ones that I have met so far. And they are there every day.

The topics discussed have to be competitive with the CNN news channel. I have heard talks on coin collecting, gun collecting, all antiques, car collecting and repair,
building, real estate, medical problems, insurance, veteran benefits,--it just doesn't end.

The different brews that I've witnessed that these customers enjoy could fill a large book. The drinks vary from $1.50 to $6.00 and above.

There are capachinos, lattes, espressos, dark roast, light roast, medium roast,
and everything you could imagine in between, specialty drinks are their forte.
I've seen drinks you wouldn't even try to call coffee. One large clear glass mug my friend has every morning is a five dollar wonder. Yes, I wonder what it is. It consists of three tiers and resembles one of those colored sand sculptures. Tan, pink and brown. The brown must be the coffee. When I first saw this I thought he was drinking sand.

Anyway it's a great way to start the day as I am always off to fulfill my day with adventures.

I either drive for St. Lukes to take elderly or disabled veterans to their appointments,
maintain my yard, work on classic cars, or do the things on my to-do list which never seems to get short!

Jerry Augustine, Middletown

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Extended Voter Registration Session Sept. 1

The session will be held from 5 to 7 p.m. at city hall, 245 deKoven Drive in Room B15 in the lower level. Normally, the registrar's office closes at 4:30 pm daily. 

The purpose is it to provide extra time for citizens in case they wish to register/ check/ change party affiliation to vote in the upcoming Democratic primary. Only registered Democrats can vote in the special primary Sept. 13. Anyone not registered to vote may register at this session regardless if affiliation Sept. 1. 

Anyone with questions is asked to call the registrar's office at 860 638 4960

Video! Middletown GOP & Mayoral Candidate Sandra Russo Driska Open HQ!

Video sent in by Bill Maune:

Time For Change from Bill Maune on Vimeo.

Meet Sandra And Her Team! from Bill Maune on Vimeo.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Matt Lesser Says "Yes" to Rabies!

HARTFORD -  Over the past few years many have questioned my voting record. I actively campaigned hard for HB 6595 Authorizing Driver's Licenses for Undocumented Immigrants, which people have criticized me doing as pandering for votes. I voted in favor Governor Malloy's  current budget. I co sposored SB 1160 to further restrict 2nd Amendment rights through sales of fire arms and ammunition. I've long advocated for same day voter registration & $20+ an hour minimum wage. I also wrote a bill, despite my advocacy for pro-environmental issues, on the request of Mayor Dan Drew to light the Arrigoni Bridge up like a  turnpike motel as a tourist attraction. 

Last year,  I joined the Latino & Black Caucus of legislators at the capitol. Most recently, in the wake of the Rachel Dolezal's plight, I also came out as transracial.

My recent actions may seem a nonsensical, but I assure my consituents there is an explanation for my haphazard pattern of voting & seemingly illogical behavior.

I am proud to come out as a rabid American. I contracted rabies some years ago 
mouth-feeding underprivileged illiterate feral animals in the bush country of Middletown around Maromas. Today, I feel I no longer should hide my status, and am sponsoring a rabies clinic to raise awareness & advocate for equal voting rights for rabid individuals. My musical group 'Menudo' will perform live! 

Please join us!
Rep. Matt Lesser (D)









Stuck in a Blue State: Lonely & Looking for Conservatives?



Try CT Conservatives a facebook group of over 1,400+ Connecticut conservatives. Group is not run by any particular political party or PAC, just conservative folks. You never know who you may find in your  'hood....

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Is the Dept. of Eduction Trying to Cover up its Failure?

In this article, "Education Dept. Releases SBAC Test Data Only to Local School Superintendents",
originally published in CT News Junkie and adapted in the Middletown Press, Christine Stewart writes, "Ellen Cohen sent an email to every school superintendent in the state to let them know not to share the results of the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium exam with anyone."

There is only one reason to withhold the test results: They are embarrassingly low and will spark outrage from the community. They are pouring over the data in an effort to whitewash it, so as to ease their own embarrassment and cover up the failure of Common Core.

The key sentence in this article is; "Since it’s the first generation of test scores that align to the Common Core State Standards, education officials don’t expect them to be stellar.".  Really?  No surprises, there.

Common Core is a disastrous big government intrusion into local control of education. Teachers hate it. Students hate it. Parents hate it. It is so convoluted as to be incomprehensible. Parents cannot understand it, thus making it impossible for them to assist their children with home work. Here, in an article from the Huffington Post, is one example of a second grade Common Core math problem that even a man with a BS in electronic engineering cannot comprehend:
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/... Can you figure that one out?

The Federal government has no Constitutional authority to be involve in education, period. At the time of its writing, (the Constitution's) education was a local matter, under local control and is, lawfully so, still today.

The Fed gets away with meddling in our schools through threat of withholding money, which it has no authority to give, in the first place! (Middletown receives some 30 million dollars in state and federal aid, making our education expenditures near 90 million dollars. Based on a population of 47,000, this works out to $1,960.00 for every man, woman and child in the city!)

The Fed blackmails state and local authorities into submission and authorities have sold their souls and the souls of our children to satisfy their lust for money and to buy the support of public employees unions.

The rank and file union members, the teachers, are not crazy about this, either, but have little choice but to go along. Any union member who speaks out against such outrageous usurpation of the teacher's responsibility and student's rights, faces retaliation.

The only way to correct this, is for the "asleepatthewheel" citizenry to wake up, get involved to the point where they actually have a clue as to what is going on, and to vote-in fresh members to the school boards, the legislatures, the Congress and at every level of government. Our country, our independence and our liberty are being stolen from under our noses and WE are to blame.

The power in this country once lay in the hands of the people. They have voluntarily surrender it. Can they get it back?  Will they try?

Friday, August 21, 2015

Letter to the Editor: Mayor Drew Should Apologize for Comments

As originally posted as a letter to the Editor in the Middletown Press August 21, 2015. Original link: here 
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This week Republican Mayoral Candidate Sandra Russo-Driska's campaign manager issued a press release titled "Democrats for Sandra 2015." As the chairperson for that newly formed political action committee, I must set the record straight on the comments within the article, "Democrats for Sandra formed" published on Aug. 14.
Mr. Drew's attack on three lifelong residents of Middletown is the exact reason this PAC was formed. As it was stated in the press release and subsequent story, the Democratic Party "bullied" a long-standing councilwoman into attempting a primary to regain her nomination to the Common Council. Mr. Drew did not address those facts and instead chose to attempt to impugn the reputation of those people who disagree with his politics.
On May 9, 2014, the Middletown Press published a story that announced the nominations of a new fire chief and a new deputy fire chief. In that article, Drew stated, "Both men have had long and distinguished careers within Middletown's fire service and both are scholars in their field and have earned the status of 'executive fire officer,' an elite designation granted by the Federal Emergency Management Agency that requires intensive preparation and the meeting and maintenance of rigorous federal standards.
"They are visionaries who understand that the demands on the fire service are evolving in the 21st century beyond just the core missions carried out in the 20th."
If what he stated in those comments were true and I was not given the promotion I wanted, then I have to wonder why the mayor nominated me, was vetted, and was unanimously approved by the Common Council by a 12-0 vote. In Ms. O'Hara's case, she has never applied for a city job and she has her picture on just about every billboard in Middletown. She is an upstanding businesswoman in our community.
Ms. Zimmitti made it clear what was done to her and the reasoning behind it. Maybe he meant I had applied for the fire chief's position originally. But I'm fairly certain he does not want to venture down those avenues.
I am stating for the record one more time, as the press release read, and all of my heart believes. I am supporting Sandra Russo-Driska because of my lifelong friendship with her, her ability to govern by reaching across both aisles, and because I am tired of lifelong city residents being bullied and impugned because of their political beliefs.
My career and reputation as a fire officer is impeccable, and although I know it won't happen, it would be proper for Mr. Drew to apologize for his personal attack and innuendos directed at me, the non-candidate.
Steven J. LaRosa
Middletown

Meet the Middletown Republican Candidate Slate! August 23!



Annual Dingwall Police Memorial Blood Drive August 28


Press Release

Today, William Boylan announced his withdrawal from the Republican ticket as candidate for Planning and Zoning alternate and Board of Education, citing unexpected constraints upon his time.

Boylan said that; "The Republican Party and the citizens of Middletown deserve candidates and elected officials who are able to make the commitment of time necessary to be an effective candidate and representative. I regret that circumstances prevent me from making that kind of commitment, at this time. Therefore, I'm moving aside so that someone else may step up to run in my stead.

Jokingly, he added, (in his best Arnold Schwarzenegger voice), "But don't worry; "I'll be back".

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Poet & Don't Know it? Middletown Commission on the Arts Poet Laureate Contest

Mayor Daniel T. Drew and the Middletown Commission on the Arts present a
Call for Nominations for Middletown's First Poet Laureate

Submission deadline is Friday at 4:30 p.m. on September 18, 2015.
Download or print the Poet Laureate Nomination Form and review the Description and Selection Process.

Suggested to the Mayor in a letter by two Macdonough School students of teacher John Ferrero - Sasha Zipf and Todd Archer in September of 2014 and acted upon by the Mayor and the Middletown Commission on the Arts, the City is seeking it's first Poet Laureate.

Qualifications:

• Nominees must be at least 18 years of age at the time of appointment
• The poet Laureate must have a strong desire to be actively engaged in the community by performing his or her own work and/or sharing his or her own work and talent with the public.
• Poets may self-nominate or be nominated by a Middletown resident.
• Nominees may not be MCA Commissioners or Staff.
• Nominees must be full time Middletown residents for at least one year prior to the nomination date.
• Nominees must be experienced in the field of poetry and able to fulfill the required duties of the position.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

An Open Letter from Timothy to Peter by Tim Lenox

An Open Letter from Timothy to Peter
From guest blogger Tim Lenox.

Dearest Brother,
Hoping this letter finds you well, I am looking forward to your return from your international travels.
Unfortunately, our country is not the same as when you left.  Many changes have taken place in such a rapid pace that many of us have been overwhelmed, over-stressed and burnt out dealing with them.  In an effort to spare you the shock of finding these things out the hard way, allow me to give you a briefing so that you may be better prepared.  
I’ve tried to keep it to a single sheet and even that takes both sides of the page.  I recommend a glass of dark bourbon or a single malt scotch with a heavy smoky presence while reading this as the taste of smoke can be a good palate-cleanser and you may need a stiff drink.
At the end of June 2015, the Supreme Court made 3 rulings which have changed the Rule of Law and the relationship of the government & the governed.  The real damage done was in the statements by the Judges which set legal precedents of unprecedented proportions.
The 1st was not talked about (except by Mark Levin) but turns out to be the most onerous.  It was the Texas Ruling which validated the use of Disparate Impact to imply Unconscious Racism and give the Federal Government the power to correct perceived inequities in Planning & Zoning at the local level of government.
The 2nd was the Obamacare Ruling and it did far worse than keep the ACA in place.  The way the judges reached the decision completely nullified Statutory Law.  According to this ruling, the Letter of the Law matters less than the perceived Intent of the Law.  This sets the precedent for ANY Amendment in the Bill of Rights to be reinterpreted according to what those in Power believe it to be.
The 3rd ruling concerning Gay Marriage nullified Common Law and Tradition, but the rulings imply that any Law can be changed and every person held accountable for it retroactively.  They allowed for religious institutions to maintain religious beliefs but did not protect them from prosecution for discriminatory practices, setting precedent for what is to follow.
George Takei (Sulu from Star Trek, who is now a Gay Activist) immediately declared on national TV that Religious Liberty is the next target, claiming, “… you may have a right to your religious beliefs but that does not give you the right to force those beliefs on me.”  It seems he now plans to force his beliefs on everyone else as his Civil Rights are more important than the Civil Rights of others.
Back in 2008, as a State Senate Candidate, I explained my belief that marriage should not be the purview of the government because Marriage is a Sacrament and the Government should not be involved in defining it.  The 1st Amendment clearly states, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of Religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; …”  
Back then, I warned there would be gay activist couples going into churches, demanding their marriage be performed and suing any church not willing to do so for violating their Civil Rights.  Nobody believed me and several actually laughed at the idea.

Up to now, activists have been practicing this very tactic against small business owners.  Many GoFundMe campaigns have been used to save some of these businesses from bankruptcy, desperately trying to thwart obvious efforts at religious suppression, which include boycotts & court rulings with outrageous fines & gag orders.  With the Supreme Court on their side, these activists are now gearing up to do exactly as I had predicted.  Various online articles discuss plans to attack the Catholic Church in order to remove its non-profit charity status, as a start.
Internationally, the Gay Lobbies have been targeting different nations to redefine marriage & we’ve been made aware that the nation of Italy is next.  Unfortunately, it seems the Cardinals decided to inoculate the Church by electing a Pope from a socialist country who is embracing Communism and attacking Individualism.  I’ve heard sermons from pastors doing the same & have to find a new church to attend.  He is promoting the Manmade Climate Change Hoax, speaking out against perceived evils of Capitalism, condemning “over-developed countries” and instructing Catholics to give to charity even until it hurts by making necessities unaffordable.  It has been revealed that two of the Pope’s closest advisors are a Pantheistic Atheist (Earth is a Living Being & we are a Virus) and a Founder of the US Occupy Movement.
Back in the USA, the Obama Administration has wasted no time taking advantage of the 1st major ruling of the Supreme Court.  
AFFH (Affirmatively Forwarding Fair Housing) is rapidly becoming the most powerful government agency in US history.  It uses demographics to assume racism using Disparate Impact as proof to target neighborhoods which do not have enough diversity and force them to have Low-Income Housing in order to combat any perceived discrimination.  Minor laws resulting in too many minority arrests are being stricken.
Oddly enough, I also warned in 2008 of plans I had heard about for State Government to seize all authority over land use & education from local government, but again, nobody believed me.  Now the Connecticut State Legislature is creating County-Level authority to do just that.  
The worst part of this is AFFH collecting data on everyone living in the United States to build a data base that does everything the NSA is accused of but not allowed to do.  ALL data on EVERY resident, legal citizen or not, is being collected so that the Federal Government can determine which neighborhoods may be guilty of Unconscious Racism.
Data being collected includes Race, Sex, Ethnicity, Age, ALL Financial History, Credit History, Student Loans, Banking Information, Mortgage information, Home Dimensions, Property Size, Property Values, Energy Use, Employment History, Military History, Medical History, Insurance Claims History, Marital History, Criminal Records, Driving Records, School Records, Voting Records, Donation Records, et cetera.
This is the kind of data collection which eliminates any resemblance of the Privacy Rights or Government Restraint mentioned in the US Constitution.  This database in the hands of ideologues can be used for attacks on political enemies worse than the past & current misuse of the IRS.  Republicans should be concerned about this, but right now are even more concerned about how their own party has sold them out.
When the voters gave the majority of both Houses of Congress to the Republicans, it was with the understanding that they would stop the blatant destruction of their rights, the country, the economy and national security. What they got was Republican Leadership in both the Senate and House of Representatives working with Democrats to give President Obama everything he wants.  President Obama has issued only 4 Vetoes (only 1 since Republicans took control of Congress) because the Republican Leadership doesn’t send him Bills he won’t sign.  
Often, they won’t even hold a vote, saying that it wouldn’t matter.  So the people who elected them do not even see them trying to do anything except get along with Democrats & congratulate themselves on their Bi-Partisanship.  They’ve formed a New Majority of Democrats & Establishment Republicans, making Conservatives a smaller Minority than any Party has ever been throughout history.
It started in 2010 when the Republicans were given control of the House of Representatives & whined for 4 years that they could do nothing without the Senate.  Then they got control of the Senate in 2014 and immediately passed President Obama’s massive budget BEFORE the newly elected Senators could be sworn in to vote against it.  The Federal Budget was thus locked in for 2 years.  Then they voted to fund both the ACA (the Obamacare they promised to defund) & the President’s Illegal Amnesty which IGNORES the Law while importing the most massive invasion of illegal aliens in US history.  Remember when I mentioned the AFFH?  That program is being used to place Illegal Immigrants in key battleground areas so their illegal votes can overwhelm those of legal citizens to guarantee Democrat victories.  
Recent votes in the Senate have demonstrated how Mitch McConnell has become Stalinist as Senate Majority Leader.  He tells Republicans that they either vote with Democrats to give the President what he wants or face Primary challenges in their re-election races with the NRSC (National Republican Senate Committee) helping their Democrat opponents if they win those Primaries.  This has resulted in bills being passed which have surrendered our National Sovereignty in ways only conspiracy theorists could have imagined.  For example, the Trans-Pacific Partnership gives a coalition of nations touching the Pacific Ocean the power to write our immigration laws.  Let me repeat that to be certain it is understood.  Other nations (such as Mexico) are going to WRITE our Immigration Laws!
The most egregious offense, however, was the May 7th vote on the Bill championed by Senator Bob Corker, which ignores the Treaty Provision in the US Constitution and reverses the way a treaty is ratified.  According to the Constitution, the President has the power to make a treaty with another nation but it has to be approved by a two-thirds majority of the Senate.  According to the Corker Bill, the President can make an Agreement with all the powers of a treaty but it needs two-thirds of the Senate AND the House of Representatives to oppose it.  They have only 30 days with which to review it and assemble the votes needed to oppose it or else it is automatically considered ratified.
Read that last part over again very carefully until you realize just how much this violates the Constitution, then you will know how disappointed we are that Senator Tom Cotton was the ONLY Senator to vote against it.  It passed the Senate 98 to 1 (Barbara Boxer didn’t vote).  This means that ALL Senators currently running for the Presidential Nomination, including those who claim to defend the Constitution, voted to ignore the Constitution and surrender their Treaty Responsibilities assigned to them by the Constitution.  As if this wasn’t bad enough, President Obama had his “Executive Agreement” ratified by the UN Security Council before Congress could even review it, let alone vote on it.  Now we learn there are side agreements which the members of Congress are not allowed to read or even be told about before they vote.  If they don’t have a veto-proof majority in both Houses in 30 days, the Agreement becomes Law.
The groundwork for World War III has now been laid, Iran gets a Nuclear Weapon in a decade or less, they are developing ICBMs right now, the US will be required to defend Iran’s Nuclear Weapon Facilities from attack (a side agreement), US Sovereignty has been surrendered to the UN, Pacific Nations (Mexico) will be writing our Immigration Laws, the Supreme Court has nullified Statutory Law & Common Law, the President is building a massive database to be used in Federalizing Planning & Zoning Laws (& the police) and the Pope has declared war on Individualism.  


Meanwhile, Iraq & Syria are not what they once were because the Islamic State holds a third of each and we are told that all the atrocities they are committing is considered the fault of President Bush because he left too many people in the Middle East unemployed with nothing to do.  

So how was your year?                                                                                                                                                             --- Your Brother, Tim   7/31/15

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