October 16, 2020
In This Issue:
From Paddi's Desk
CT Agency Corner
Municipal Roundup
Election HQ
This Day in CT History
May you live in interesting times...

This phrase keeps popping into my head. From a potential resurgence of COVID-19 during the holidays to an increased focus on inequities around the world, the big election, scary predictions on our nation’s and state’s economies, wild fires, crazy weather and the safety of our family and friends—there’s a lot going on these days. At the same time another phrase keeps popping into my head as well…

Listen, learn and lead…

Some of these convergent issues will be resolved soon—the election, the holidays (which will hopefully be filled with happiness and family gatherings, even if they’re virtual) and maybe even the wild fires and crazy weather. But some will remain and will require everyone to roll up their sleeves and work to tamp down the anxiety being expressed in unusual ways.

I told my friends that after watching the first presidential debate I felt like I was back 20 years ago with my sons in the backseat of my car, pulling over to the side of the road to sternly ask them to “cut it out!” We have to watch this kind of behavior from people we’re supposed to look up to? Shameful.

Back 20 years ago it didn’t matter who started it. Someone had to take the lead and stop it. I was wondering what if Vice President Biden had simply said, “Mr. President, let’s take a breath, think about the American people and really talk about our plans. You go first, and then I’ll talk about mine.”

Maybe—just maybe—we could then enjoy some enlightenment and a less dramatic debate. Though I wouldn’t really consider whatever that was a debate!

As the legislative candidates look ahead to the next 2.5 weeks of their campaigns, for the most part it’s been encouraging to see how voters are opening their doors during neighborhood canvassing and listening to the candidates’ plans, priorities and vision for Connecticut. Phone banks have been mostly stiff, with many non-responses and hang ups. One-on-one campaigning works in certain places and on certain days, but it will be interesting to see how the pandemic has changed the way voters respond to the ballots. Absentee ballots are already rolling into city and town halls, clearly from those who have already made up their minds. For others, the ritual of in-person voting will remain a tradition—like for me!

It’s safe to say that we won’t know the results of the national election and some local elections for days—or maybe even weeks. But then again, for the national election, it’s just down to a handful of key states thanks to the Electoral College.

This past week the Hartford Courant published a list of roughly 20 races that are either HOT or ones that we should keep an eye on—and they could easily change the makeup of the legislature. Currently the Dems have a 22-14 advantage in the Senate. But if four seats switch, or even two or three, that will change a whole bunch given the other seats and the individuals expected to win on November 3rd.

It’s a big hill to climb for House Republicans, who need to win 17 more seats to take charge. But if they muster 10 or so seats, they will have leverage with the Dems as everyone tries to tackle a $7 billion deficit in the next two year budget.

With uncertainty comes anxiety, but also an opportunity to rebalance our state. So while the numbers reveal the stark reality that Connecticut is indeed solidly blue; the uncertainty of the pandemic, the fragile economy and families’ confidence in managing their finances over the next year will certainly have an impact on the outcomes.

As Tip O’Neill famously said, “All politics is local.” And I do believe that will decide the direction Connecticut goes in the next two years. 
Data Center Knocked Offline

According to State officials, a fiber optic cable that feeds the state of Connecticut data center in Groton suffered an outage and knocked some state agencies partially offline.

Some activities performed through this data center like registering any of the online or DMV registrations or even voter registrations ahead of the election were also temporarily suspended during this outage that the state is still trying to determine the root cause.

The other state agency partially knocked offline was the Department of Public Protection and Emergency Services, which includes the state police. According to DAS, the state was notified that we had 43 secretary of the state locations and 10 state police locations that had some of their communications disrupted. While no inherent danger was caucused to the public from this it does beg the question of how the state long-term will be solving their increased data needs. One step that's already been taken by a few state agencies including Department of Social Services and Department of Labor is transitioning legacy storage into cloud-based storage options.

This is a prime example of using a temporary crisis to one's advantage in moving a brand new initiative forward on the IT front. The state at the beginning of this month announced that they would be revamping some older legacy systems through their comprehensive IT strategy that performs a diagnostic evaluation of where the state should be more heavily invested.

Here is a link to the report submitted to state agencies that goes piece-by-piece in these evaluations.
Returning to Class With Buses and Textbooks

With school budgets already finalized in June, it has been a tough go of it to get schools ready for the start of school in the fall. The pandemic has caused school districts to buy new equipment for distance learning, cleaning supplies and in some cases major changes to the physical schools to keep social distancing. Needless to say, a lot of time and money has been spent over these few months in order to get Connecticut schools ready to reopen. It has been tedious and costly for both families and school districts.

For example, in Windsor Locks Public Schools, Superintendent Shawn Parkhurst was tasked with figuring out what to buy and where to buy it to get the district’s four schools and nearly 1,600 students ready return to the classroom. Nearly $20,000 was spent on masks, gloves and hand sanitizer, according to the district. Close to $150,000 was spent on building accommodations, such as new signage and plexiglass desk dividers and shields. Approximately $232,000 was used to purchase new technology such as cameras, microphones, sound systems to help with remote learning. The total leading up to the start of the school year was more than $401,000, to be able to have the option of reopening schools in Windsor Locks.

In the Consolidated School District of New Britain, there were similar COVID-related purchases totaling approximately $529,000. Another $403,000 was spent on mobile hotspots, Chromebooks and other technology. To prepare for this school year in New Britain, more than $930,000 was spent, according to school district financial documents.

Across the sixteen Capitol Region Education Council (CREC) schools, between PPE, classroom and cleaning supplies, building upgrades and new products to help with distance learning, approximately $2.9 million was spent; and that was only up through mid-August. Across the state these numbers add up to significant amounts of un-budgeted expenses that local tax payers and town governments are going to have to figure out how to pay for it. Although the CARES act did allocate money to local communities for some of these expenses, it certainly isn’t going to cover the total cost.
Signs of the Season

As we officially reached the "home stretch" of campaign season with only two weeks left before election day, we thought it'd be fun to share four unique campaign logos that have stood out as different styles to use to identify yourself. 

We've chosen a campaign logo for each of the four caucuses in Connecticut and hope this encourages you to evaluate more like them that you see!

Kevin Witkos

This is perennially a winner in our book grabbing every piece of symbolism you would want to include in a campaign logo: The state, your party's animal and your dogmatic principles all in one! Oh - And if you see if off the highway there's no way you're not looking at it.

Christine Cohen 

This was a really interesting one because of its modern take on "starting a conversation" Sen. Christine Cohen's choice of a text bubble is in our opinion a clever way to show she's open to discussion and wants to hear from voters. It also captures the classic red, white and blue without being overly patriotic. 

Stephanie Cummings 

Step Representative Stephanie Cummings does a phenomenal job here of capturing the town colors of Waterbury and a major landmark of the city in her logo. Overall this has to be one of our favorites based on a saying my Marketing professor in college once said: "If you remember when and where you saw it, they've done their job".

Anne Hughes

Last but not least is Rep. Hughes who chooses a creative but also subtle way to remind voters where her priorities stand.

Using "Lady Liberty" as part of her logo, she seems to embark on a twofold message of being pro-women's rights and championing "Life, Liberty and the pursuit of happiness". 
October 16, 1833 - First African-American Diplomat for the United States a Connecticut Native

It's starting to sound redundant but our state truly is landmark with the incredible amount of history and achievements it's had since existence.

Today in 1833, Ebenezer Don Carlos Bassett was born near Litchfield, Connecticut to free black parents who held prominent roles in Connecticut’s free black community. Bassett’s father was a businessman who had served as one of Connecticut’s Black Governors — an honorary leadership role in the state’s black community — and his grandfather was a former slave who earned his freedom by serving as a soldier in the Continental Army.

As a teenager in the late 1840s, Ebenezer attended the Birmingham Academy in Derby, where he first realized his lifelong affinity for academics. At the time, many other Connecticut towns were barring young black children from attending prestigious schools; later in life, Bassett remarked: “My success in life I owe greatly to that American sense of fairness which was tendered me in old Derby, and which exacts that every man whether white or black, shall have a fair chance to run his race in life and make the most of himself.”

While attending school, young Bassett worked odd jobs for influential Derby citizens, whose recommendations helped him further his education by attending the Wesleyan Academy in Massachusetts and then enrolling at the Connecticut State Normal School — now Central Connecticut State University — in New Britain as the first African-American student to attend classes and graduate from that institution. After graduating in 1853, Bassett moved to New Haven where he worked as a high-school principal, became active in the local community and enrolled in classes at Yale College to further his education. There, he met two of the most important people in his life: his wife, Eliza, and the famous author and abolitionist Frederick Douglass, with whom Bassett maintained a close friendship for the rest of his life.

Here is a link to the full article - Provided by CT Humanities Council
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