July 23, 2021
In This Issue:
From Paddi's Desk
CT Agency Corner
Municipal Roundup
From Inside The Golden Dome
This Day in CT History
Nothing Like Summer in the City

The recent increase in Hartford traffic reflects the return of state employees coming back to work in the city. But even with the Capitol complex back to being wide open, most days it’s been crickets here on Capitol Avenue…

There’s been a bunch of activity around getting new task forces authorized, there has been a bit of discussion about the Governor’s veto on changes to solitary confinement and there’s some talk about students and masks for this coming school year—but for the most part it’s been a typical summer here in Hartford.

We are seeing more excitement out in the cities and towns, as sitting mayors, council members and excited challengers gear up for town committee selections all across the state—and there’s been quite a few rumors about 2022 statewide campaigns too. While Secretary of the State Merrill announced her retirement last month, rumors of Comptroller Lembo’s interest in another term have been growing louder. A whole crop of interested folks are emerging and it will be interesting which ones actually make it through the exploratory campaign process and to the eventual state conventions.

As for the 2022 Gubernatorial Election, we’re starting to feel more and more sure that Governor Lamont is interested in a second term. While on the Republican side, it looks like there’s going to be a competition between former Republican House Leader Themis Klarides and former GOP Governor Candidate Bob Stefanowski. Exciting for sure!

Meanwhile, we’re looking forward to a technical veto session next week and then a special session in the fall where the legislature will address federal pandemic funds for Connecticut. The loudest voices during these thinner weeks are the ones calling attention to the building crisis of car thefts and juvenile justice. We’re unsure at this time if either the Governor or Democratic leaders will address this in the fall special session or before the legislature reconvenes for the 2022 Legislative Session on February 9th. But it’s certain with the recent changes to the court’s restrictions on teens committing crimes that the problem isn’t going away on its own…

Enjoy the weekend—and I’ll be back with more next Friday!


A (Painful) Attempt to Return to Normal for the State Bond Commission

Some technical glitches were to be expected with an in-person and hybrid meeting taking form for the first time ever with the state bond commission meeting. While things eventually were off of the races, those on teams were unable to hear those in the room in the LOB for about 30 minutes leading to a familiar delay we’ve all become accustomed to in the “new normal”.

The issue was resolved by moving everyone there in-person to the Governor’s primary office he uses for press conferences and announcements!

The Governor opened the meeting with some upbeat remarks about unemployment being lowered and how the state is ready to invest in school construction projects in addition to major infrastructure developments.

The Treasurer celebrated the increased bond rating that was announced last Spring and highlighted his eagerness to see the “baby bond” project to be adopted which provides children born on Medicaid to be deposited $10,000 to be utilized for either college or to help purchase a home.

Most items were fairly uncontroversial with some additional comment and feedback on the following items.

Item 1 - DPH investment of $25M in community health centers and studies of health equity disparities Rep. Cheeseman provided some comments of concern that the state would be utilizing bonded dollars for studies when these expenses could be appropriated.

Item 3 - Port Authority authorization of $50M for expansion Rep. Cheeseman indicates she is not supportive for the lack of transparency by the board of the authority and indicated she does not support the authorization.
Sen. Martin expressed concerns from the initial overall budget at $90M and the increased budget to $235M. 

Item 11 - State College and University Advanced Manufacturing Programs
Sen. Fonfara emphasized that he was eager for this to be placed on the agenda and hopes that this is only the beginning of programs like this being passed since UConn seems to be awarded the bulk of grants like this from the commission.

Item 26 - New Western Headquarters for DEEP in Watertown
Rep. Cheeseman emphasized her desire to ensure that this building maintains a high level of public access. There will be publicly available space for hunting and fishing licenses and other forums that will be made available to the public.

The Governor concluded the meeting by saying the next meeting will be fully in person. At this point we all hope so after this meeting last almost two hours!



Earlier this week there were a group of Mayors and legislators from both parties that met to discuss the recent increase in auto thefts across the state, especially that among young offenders. House Speaker Matt Ritter said that conversations will be ongoing to find ways to address these concerns and to determine if legislation may be needed in a future special session. There was some consensus after the meeting that judges should have more access to information relating to juvenile arrest records, but there was much disagreement about how to address the issue. New Britain Chief of police Christopher Chute offered up an idea to hold juveniles longer than the mandated maximum of six hours, stating that “most of us in law enforcement refer to the system as the arrest, release, repeat.”

In municipal election news this week, there will be two Republican’s going head to head in Southbury’s First Selectman race. Current Republican First Selectman Jeff Manville announced earlier this year that he would seek re-election and then this week Selectman Emily Harrison announced that she would challenge him, as a Republican. This is the second time that Manville has faced an opponent from his own party. Manville and Harrison are currently in a potential legal battle over accusations from Harrison that Manville has been falsely spreading misinformation about her. It certainly seems that this will be an interesting race to watch unfold over the next several weeks. The caucus for the endorsed candidate in Southbury is July 20th, which will set the course for a potential primary. 


Elections Start to Heat Up Ahead of September Primaries

This week municipalities began convening conventions to help select Republican and Democratic slates for the elections in November but some communities are heading towards contentious primaries in September.

Here is a quick glance on the major cities and towns heading to a primary:

Stamford

There will be a Democratic primary between incumbent Mayor David Martin and current State Rep Caroline Simmons. After this race is done, the winner of the primary will need to fight former MLB manager Bobby Valentine and a Republican candidate to be decided.

New Haven

Incumbent Mayor Justin Elicker will be facing off against local advocate and president of Elm City Communities Karen DuBois-Walton in what is expected to be a hotly contested race this fall. Given the lack of Republicans and no major independent candidates joining the fray, it would appear that whoever wins the primary in September will be crowned the ultimate winner in November.

Stratford

Incumbent Republican Mayor Laura Hoydick will be facing off in November against either Immaculla Cann or Stephanie Phillips on the Democratic side. Cann this week received the party's endorsement but it appears Phillips at this point will attempt to garner enough signatures necessary to try to force a primary.

East Hartford

Democratic Mayor Marcia LeClerc will be retiring this November and there is a contentious primary heading toward September between former Finance Director Mike Walsh and Lee Griffin who is a former police officer for the town. Both have very strong resumes for public service and at this point Mike Walsh holds a favorable balance given his long career working Decmoratic circles in the city.

Exciting opportunities ahead since we know that there's almost always an upset that was unspeculated that happens in municipal elections!

July 21, 1776: Test of the First Attack by Submarine

While Connecticut has been home to an outsized share of American innovators and creative geniuses, few of them have had as long-lasting an impact as David Bushnell, inventor of the Turtle — the world’s first combat submarine.
Born in Saybrook in 1740, Bushnell decided at age 30 to sell his share of the family farm and attend Yale College, where (as a notably older-than-average student in the Class of 1775) his favorite subjects included physics and chemistry. While at Yale, he engaged in a number of scientific experiments, the most notable resulting in the successful underwater detonation of gunpowder.
After the first shots of the Revolutionary War were fired at Lexington and Concord in April 1775, Bushnell, an ardent patriot, began contemplating how he could weaponize his discoveries to help defeat the British army. By early 1776, with his brother Ezra’s help, David Bushnell had constructed a working model of a submersible boat designed to anchor underwater timed mines to the hull of enemy ships. Named the Turtle, the vessel almost defied comprehension by 18th-century standards: shaped roughly like a clamshell, the small wooden submarine featured a complex ballast mechanism, used bioluminescent fungi for a light source, and relied on a screw propeller (still used by submarines today) for its propulsion system.
 A 19th century illustration of David Bushnell’s Turtle submarine from the Library of Congress.

On July 21, 1776, the Bushnells conducted their first field tests of the Turtle, testing the vessel’s seaworthiness off the coast of Charles Island in Milford, Connecticut. Evidently pleased with the results, the Turtle embarked on its first combat mission for the Continental Army in September 1776, with Connectican Ezra Lee at the helm. In what was perhaps one of the most audacious missions of the entire Revolutionary War, Lee piloted the awkward submarine into New York Harbor in an attempt to attach an underwater mine to the hull of the HMS Eagle — the flagship of British Admiral Richard Howe. Although Lee did manage to reach the Eagle’s hull, a number of factors including rough tides prevented him from successfully attaching his mine to the ship, rendering the Turtle’s only mission a failure.

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

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