November 24, 2021
In This Issue:
CT Agency Corner
Municipal Roundup
From Inside The Golden Dome
This Day in CT History
Talk Turkey, Not Politics on Thursday

Every now and then, CT Agency Corner takes a break from the usual content of the latest developments of the Executive Branch to share sentiments on what’s relevant to our clients who read this article (hopefully) every week. In keeping with that common practice, Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday of the year and I thought it would be appropriate to share some thoughts going into the big holiday weekend:

-Whether you’re flying or driving, be patient as you travel to where over you are going. Those working service-industry jobs are probably working a job meant for three people this weekend so try to plan ahead to account for things taking longer. 

-The UConn Women’s basketball team just lost to South Carolina but the men’s basketball team tips off today at 2:30 in the Atlantis tournament in the Bahamas. If they win, they will play on Thanksgiving day at noon so instead of watching the Lions lose during the day, turn on ESPN to cheer on the Huskies! 

-I attended a conference this week where a lawmaker from South Dakota shared a story about finding the person in his district he had the least in common with and demanded that they have coffee together. That story left me questioning how I should approach certain family members at Thanksgiving. It’s easy with everything going on in our country to have disagreements over anything but don’t let that be the narrative of the day. Find something you can share with those members of your family in common and if you can’t, eat more yams.

-Regardless of how cold it is outside on the big day, make sure you take a long walk after dinner. It will keep you awake enough to do some of the cleaning that night and feel like you did something other than watch football/basketball and eat stuffing (although that is, technically speaking, an incredible day).

-Finally, I know some folks avoid this tradition because it’s been exploited by movies on the Hallmark Channel, but make sure you have everyone around the table share what they’re thankful for this year. It’s been an incredibly challenging year battling through the pandemic and having everyone share this is the most important part of getting together.

I wish our clients and close friends reading this article a very happy Thanksgiving and look forward to that extra belt size!
Going Green

As more and more automakers commit to making and expanding their electric vehicles offerings, the question being posed by many municipal officials is “why don’t we have more in our fleet.?” The answer is that many have, and more and more municipal fleets are finding ways to utilize these vehicles. The first problem was finding charging stations. However, due to grants from the state and the utilities, more and more city halls have charging station offerings for the public and for town/city fleet vehicles. The next problem was affordability. Municipal budgets are usually constrained and the cheapest fleet vehicles were usually those that still run on gasoline. With more and more competition in the electric vehicle space, there are less expensive options.

You now see examples like the Mayor of New Haven riding around in a Nissan LEAF and the Newtown Health Department uses a Chevrolet Bolt. The federal funds from the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) can be used to fund investments in electric vehicle fleets. We expect many more communities to utilize those grant funds to ‘flip the switch’ to electric vehicles. In Westport, even police vehicles, typically dominating the local gasoline budget, are starting to rethink using electric vehicles. They purchased a Tesla in 2019 for routine traffic patrols and have saved thousands of dollars by plugging it in. They have now committed to have 1/3 of their police vehicles electric by 2025.
Connecticut's Redistricting Process Episode 2: The Senate

This week, the legislature's Reapportionment Commission approved the new district map for Connecticut's State Senate.

During the reapportionment committee's meeting, members extolled the bipartisan nature of the process. Senator Looney noted that while the state's population did not change dramatically since the previous census, there was much movement across town lines.

The biggest changes to Senate districts come in and around the city of Stamford, which saw it's population grow by approximately 13,000 people. Due to this population growth, the 27th district, represented by Senator Pat Billie Miller, exceeded its population maximum by 11,000 residents. Population growth in nearby districts compounded the issue, preventing the commission from simply shifting residents across nearby lines. In the 26th, represented by Senator Will Haskell, the district was pulled down between New Canaan and Norwalk, and into Stamford. Republican Tony Hwang's 28th district gained parts of Bethel from the 26th. Senator Kushner's 24th District shrunk dramatically, surrendering the entire town of Sherman, and half of New Fairfield to the 30th district represented by Republican Senator Craig Miner. Hartford, which saw a slight decrease in population, was able to maintain its two senate districts.

The only map left for the commission to approve before November 30th is for Connecticut's U.S. House districts. It seems as if the commission will not get that map done in time. The commission will seek an extension from the state Supreme Court for this final task.

For more info on CT's Senate Redistricting Map, click here.
November 24: Connecticut's Longest Serving Governor Learned His Political Skills Behind a Bar

In many respects, Governor William A. O’Neill lived the life of a quintessential 20th century Connectican. Born in Hartford in 1930, he attended public schools in East Hampton, took classes at the Teacher’s College of Connecticut (now Central Connecticut State University), and subsequently held jobs in two of Connecticut’s major industries: first at Pratt & Whitney, then at Prudential as an insurance salesman. After serving in the Air Force during the Korean War, O’Neill returned to his hometown to help manage the family business: O’Neill’s Taproom, a neighborhood tavern.

O’Neill later claimed that his time spent at the family tavern turned him into an empathetic listener, and was a foundational experience for his later political career. “You had all walks of life [there],” he said in an interview, “You had ditch diggers and you had doctors, you had them all right across the spectrum. Meeting all walks of life, it broadened your horizons.” Plenty of politicians frequented O’Neill’s Taproom, too, and after sitting in at a number of local Democrat party meetings, O’Neill threw his own hat in the ring, running and eventually being elected, as a state representative for six terms.

In the 1970s, O’Neill was the campaign manager for Ella Grasso, who became the first woman in the United States to be elected Governor without being preceded by her husband. A popular Democratic governor, Grasso selected O’Neill to join her ticket as Lieutenant Governor during her successful 1978 re-election campaign; two years later, when Grasso was forced to resign due to declining health, O’Neill suddenly found himself in the Governor’s seat. O’Neill, as a moderate Democrat, governed cautiously for his first two years as the state’s chief executive, but once he was re-elected in his own right in 1982, he vigorously pursued an agenda of economic growth, infrastructure repair, and stronger state-wide education. O’Neill inherited a significant deficit upon first taking office, but within five years the state was enjoying a budget surplus and healthy economic (and population) growth.

O’Neill was re-elected for two four-year terms, serving for a total of ten years in office — making him the longest-serving governor in modern Connecticut history. In 1991, he retired to the shores of Lake Pocotopaug in East Hampton with his wife. On November 24, 2007, “Bill” O’Neill passed away from complications from emphysema. Both Democrats and Republicans published fond remembrances of the popular and well-respected politician, describing him as a “good and decent man” and someone who “never goes back on his word and who values loyalty and commitment.” One of Connecticut’s most iconic governors is remembered, today in Connecticut history.

The original article from the CT Humanities Council can be found here.
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