Longevity payments, postcard scams, efficiency improvements

October 17, 2011
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Here are this weeks political news highlights from and about Connecticut.

Connecticut Governor Dannel P. Malloy informed that the Disaster Loan Outreach Center in East Haven will not close until October 27. The center’s purpose is to assist Connecticut residents who were negatively impacted by Tropical Storm Irene.

According to some reports, NBC Sports will create a thousand jobs in Stamford, however, Governor Malloy did not confirm this news.

Meanwhile, he filed a proclamation with Connecticut Secretary of the State Denise Merrill’s office for special legislative session in an effort to sign a bill that would make Connecticut “an international center for bioscience research”

Connecticut Attorney General George Jepsen partnered with Bank of America to open a customer assistance center in Southington aimed at addressing foreclosures.

State Comptroller Kevin Lembo’s office released a report on longevity payments to state employees worth close to $10.3 million – $6.2 million of which appropriated to non-union members and the rest to union members. Some union members forfeited their longevity payments as part of the alternative tentative agreement which included $1.6 billion in concessions over fiscal years 2012 and 2013, and $21.5 billion over twenty years with the same cost-saving provisions. About two weeks ago the State Employees Bargaining Agent Coalition (SEBAC) filed a grievance with the Office of Policy and Management Director of Labor Relations Linda Yelmini in reaction to information that they received longevity bonuses this month. According to SEBAC, part of the ratified alternative tentative agreement that it signed with the state government would sacrifice longevity payments at at least the size of the union members’ sacrifices. Some of the state employees received the longevity payments included in the state comptroller’s offices’ report are reportedly at a reduced rate. CTNewsJunkie.com reported that the longevity payments this year are less by almost a half compared to the ones in April, which the media informs were worth $20.25 million given to 32,239 union and non-union state employees, compared to the close to $10.3 million this month given to 8,337 state employees. Back in April state Senate Minority Leader John McKinney (R – Fairfield) expressed his disapproval of longevity bonuses paid to thousands of union and non-union state employees on October 1 and April 1 deeming them a cost Connecticut cannot afford. He was quoted by the media as saying that longevity bonuses in October, 2010 cost Connecticut $19.7 million, and will cost the state $34.5 million for each of the next two fiscal years.

Mr. Jepsen and United States Attorney David B. Fein announced that New Haven dentist Kristi Rossomando, M.D. and her dental practice The Children’s Dental Group, P.C. will pay $212,000 to the federal and Connecticut governments for allegedly violating the federal and state False Claims Acts by fraudulently billing Medicaid. According to U.S. Attorney Fein, such acts increase health care costs for everyone.

State Attorney General Jepsen also announced that his office settled three public disputes with credit rating agencies: Fitch, Inc., Moody’s Investors Service, Inc., and Standard & Poor’s. His office claims that the three credit rating agencies gave Connecticut unfairly low credit ratings of its public bonds as well as misrepresentation of their public bond credit ratings. According to a press release, the credit agencies will give approximately $900,000 to the state which will be used for direct cost savings on credits in the future, and will also have their representatives meet with Connecticut public bond issuers for more details on how they set their credit ratings.

Governor Malloy announced that ten municipalities and the Valley Council of Governments, which includes Derby and Shelton, are awarded the total $5 million for “transit-oriented development” project. The awards are distributed in portions raging from as low as $250,000 to as high as $850,000 to the following cities and towns, according to a press release: Hartford, Meriden, New Britain, New Haven, New London, Norwalk, Stamford, Stratford, Windsor and Windsor Locks.

The governor also announced that checks and rebates worth $21.7 million in total are being mailed to 42,332 elderly renters serving as a relief for them for paying their rents. This is just the first portion of these checks, according to a press release. The checks are reportedly part of the Elderly Renters Rebate Program, range from as low as $50 to as high as $900 for married couples and from as low as $50 to as high as $700 for singles.

Connecticut Treasurer Denise L. Nappier announced that all recipients of grants and loans by the state will receive payments electronically through the Automated Clearing House, which, according to her, will improve efficiency in the process. The electronic program is scheduled to start on December 1, 2011.

Lieutenant Governor Nancy Wyman announced that the Connecticut Health Care Exchange is seeking a chief executive officer who will be responsible for providing the state with more access to health care funds from the federal health care overhaul plan, passed by Congress and signed into law by President Barack Obama in March, 2010.

Connecticut Secretary of the State Merrill joined CT Voters Count representative Luther Weeks for a public drawing regarding a pre-selection audit of three precincts in Bridgeport concerning the municipal primary in the city which was held on September 27, her office announced in a press release. The three precincts – Bassick High School, the Beardsley School and the Roosevelt School – were selected randomly, according to the press release. The audit is part of a state law that requires audit of 10 percent of the polling precincts within a municipality, the press release notes. Bridgeport has 23 precincts.

Ms. Merrill also reminded Connecticut voters who are not registered to vote that if they want to register to vote for the municipal elections on next month, they have to mail their voter registration forms by October 25.

Connecticut Department of Consumer Protection Commissioner William M. Rubenstein advised Connecticut consumers to discard or return smoked herring purchased from C-Town stores in Danbury and New Britain, and from Ciabao Market in Willimantic after information that a Massachusetts-based fist distributor is recalling these products. Connecticut is among the states where these products are being distributed.

Mr. Rubenstein also alerted Connecticut consumers that if they received postcards in their mailboxes that seemingly offer two free round trip getaways and hotel lodging, featuring the logos of Delta and Southwest Airlines, they should know that the travel companies in the postcards have no relationship with the two airlines. The state Department of Consumer Protection advised consumers not to respond to these offers.

CTMirror.org reported that the Connecticut Department of Children and Families will end unannounced visits to households concerning possible child abuse except for cases deemed too serious.

U.S. Representative Chris Murphy (D, CT – 5th District) announced that his campaign for the U.S. Senate seat, currently occupied by outgoing U.S. Senator Joe Lieberman (I – CT), has raised $650,000 for the third quarter making the total of $2.7 million in campaign contributions.  According to a press release, 84 percent of them are small contributions of $250 or less and 86 percent of the contributions are from the state. U.S. Representative Murphy is seeking the democratic nomination for the statewide office against former Connecticut Secretary of the State Susan Bysiewicz and state Representative William Tong (D – Stamford).

Former Secretary of the State Bysiewicz announced that her campaign raised $321,812.87 for the third quarter making the total of $1.3 million since January, 2011.

Meanwhile, state Representative Tong announced his jobs proposal number 3 – a cash for clean energy program which, according to him, would create 168,000 jobs in the country, 5,000 of which in Connecticut. He explained in a press release that this program is “similar to the Home Star Plan that President Obama proposed last year.” The program would provide “upfront capital for people to make significant investments in home and commercial energy efficiency measures.” These proposals, according to him, will save money in energy bills.

Former WWE corporate officer Linda McMahon toured a manufacturing business in Southington after which she joined a luncheon organized by a group of small businessmen, CTNewsJunkie.com reported. Ms. McMahon is currently seeking the Republican Party nomination for the Mr. Lieberman’s U.S. Senate seat against Windsor attorney Brian Keith Hill

Connecticut Speaker of the House Chris Donovan (D – Meriden) announced that he raised more than $250,000 in his bid for the fifth congressional district, currently occupied by outgoing U.S. Representative Chris Murphy. He is seeking the democratic nomination for this office against former state Representative Elizabeth Esty, former U.S. State Department advisor Michael Williams and Kent Democratic Town Committee member Daniel Roberti.

Meanwhile, Mr. Roberti, Ms. Esty and Mr. WIlliams reportedly raised $209,715, $200,002 and $30,932 – all of them for the third quarter.

In the republican race for the fifth congressional district Farmington Valley businesswoman Lisa Wilson-Foley, businessman Mark Greenberg, former Connecticut Military and Defense Advisory Council Chairman Justin Bernier and former FBI Special Agent Michael Clark reportedly  raised $110,849, $90,618, a little more than $160,000 and $27,594 respectively.

 

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