Town Committee Meets Thursday 1/16
The January meeting of the Democratic Town Committee will be held on Thursday, January 16th, at 7 p.m. at New Britain City Hall, 27 West Main Street, in Room 504. On the agenda will be the political calendar for 2014 including the petition period for DTC members, 2014 legislative issues and the filling of vacancies for Justice of the Peace.
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Mayor Hires GOP Chair: Political Cronyism For Republicans
“Oh. What a tangled web we weave when first we practice to deceive.” – Sir Walter Scott
In her campaign for Mayor last fall Erin Stewart was critical of Tim O’Brien for rewarding political friends while in office. As Ms. Stewart said last year, she wanted to “take the city back from political cronyism.” In her first announced appointments Stewart tapped staffers from her youthful campaign team and appointed John Healey, an aide to Republican House Minority Leader Larry Cafero, to be a $90,000+ a year chief of staff. So far so good. New Britain mayors, coming into office just one week after elections, are entitled to assemble an office with people they know — even if the hires are political friends.
Two months after the election, however, Erin Stewart’s promise to root out cronyism is just that — a campaign promise not meant to be kept. More important, her recent and unannounced hire raises new concerns about the use of government resources for partisan political activity. Republican Town Committee Chair Peter Steele, a perennial GOP candidate, comes in — “returns” is a better word — as an aide at $45,000 annually. For Steele this is a pay hike and political reward. He was a $25,000 a year aide to Mayor Tim Stewart during his time in office.
Here is where candidate Stewart’s anti-cronyism pitch falls apart. In that previous stint in the Mayor’s office, Steele may have blatantly used city resources to do political campaigning on the public’s dime in the Mayor’s office..
In a complaint filed early last year to the State Elections Enforcement Commission (SEEC) by O’Brien Aide Rosemary Klotz, Klotz asserted that when O’Brien came into office city information technology employees discovered “at least 200 files on city computers that indicate former Mayor Stewart and his staff, including Steele, used the machines to conduct campaign business.” After the complaint was filed SEEC investigators subsequently visited City Hall and collected evidence in the still unresolved case.
The New Britain Herald in a March 26, 2013 story by Lisa Backus, reported:
“Klotz’s complaint alleges that the files, which range from campaign fundraising lists to lists on which residents would allow campaign signs on their lawns, were created and maintained on city computers, by Stewart and city staff members Peter Steele, Joe Shilinga and Lisa Carver, on city time. The dates of when the files were created range from 2003 as Stewart was running a mayoral re-election campaign to 2011 when Stewart ran in a special election to fill a vacancy in the state Senate 6th District. The documents, obtained by the Herald, include drafts and final versions of campaign mailings, scripts for electoral “robo-calls,” and “primed” voter lists indicating voter preference.”
As of now that SEEC investigation about using the Mayor’s office for partisan Republican work is active and awaits a judgment from the commission.
The hiring of GOP Chair Steele in and of itself isn’t surprising. What is disturbing is that an unresolved case alleging campaign work in the Mayor’s office by former Mayor Stewart and Peter Steele still hangs in the air.
To be true to her high-mindedness against “political cronyism” it’s time for Mayor Stewart to publicly announce the hiring of GOP Chair Peter Steele and provide the specifics on what his job functions are at $45,000 a year. For all the campaign talk of cronyism in the O’Brien administration, every position in the last term had a clear function and every hire was tasked to be working in service to the city, not a political party. At the very least the public has a right to know what Peter Steele does and when he does it on the City Hall clock.
End Quote On Special Election Date In Ward 5
I didn’t vote for the 1st time in my 60 yr. old life! I was angry about several things. (1) that I live near either Jefferson or Pulaski schools, but I as a quadraplegic, was districted into DiLoreto School, which is too far to “walk.” I don’t own a car, & have trouble getting into cars.(2) I usually vote by absentee ballot, but by the time I even heard about this INSANE date, & called the dems, who nicely sent me an APPLICATION for Ab. ballot, I estimated I wouldn’t have enough time for 3 more mailings by 1/7. WHATEVER HAPPENED TO AUTOMATIC ABSENTEE BALLOTS FOR DISABLED VOTERS? I heard about it one year ago, then no more, no matter whom I called. (3) what about the “ballot marking device” i heard they have in some states? Don’t know what, exactly, it is, but that would help more disabled people vote at their poling place. Anyway, thanks for listening. Not proud of myself… I guess you can add COLDEST DAY EVER to my complaint list!
A Ward Five Voter posting on Town Committee’s Facebook page. Both Registrars asked Stewart Administration Corporation Counsel Gennaro Bizzaro to request a January 21st date for the Ward 5 Council special election (allowing more time for absentee voter participation). Bizzaro refused to go back to court.
The 2014 Political Calendar
January 15-29: Petition period for the 2014-2016 Town Committee Slates
January 29 at 4 p.m. Deadline for Town Committee petitions
March 4, 2014 Primary Date
State Offices – Party Endorsements
May 6-27: Period for Party Endorsements at conventions including Governor/ Lt. Governor, Secretary of the State, Treasurer, Comptroller and Attorney General, Congress and multi town Legislative (State Senate, State Representative Districts 22 and 24) and Judge of Probate candidates.
May 20-27: Endorsements for State Representative Districts 25 and 26.
August 12, 2013: Party Primary Date
November 4, 2014 : Election Day
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Labor donated. Any costs associated with this message paid for by New Britain Democratic Town Committee, Post Office Box 2112, New Britain CT 06050 John Valengavich, Treasurer. Approved by John McNamara