October 2, 2020
In This Issue:
From Paddi's Desk
CT Agency Corner
Municipal Roundup
Are things looking a bit better?

While the Governor is a bit concerned about the recent uptick the state is seeing in positive COVID-19 tests—and especially concerned about the rising rates in Norwich and other potential hot spots—it seems as if many are moving forward carefully.

This past week the legislature held its second special session and there were more folks on the House and Senate floors, but the majority of legislators still remained in their offices for remote voting.
Meanwhile, candidates have been out and about a lot these past few weeks, going door-to-door, phone banking and using new technology rather than being crammed in noisy—and sometimes sweltering—campaign offices.

We were lucky enough to participate in several community service events that were sponsored and orchestrated by state legislators to provide their local communities some much needed help during the pandemic. My favorite one was this morning as State Rep. Christie Carpino and a team of Cromwell firefighters and community leaders distributed over 1,100 boxes of fresh food and gallons of milk to organizations and families in the greater Hartford area. Once we got started we were a well-oiled machine, and the joy we saw from the organizations receiving the food was terrific. We finished just as the rain started to come down and we made some new friends with some 15 volunteers. The best was when former Senator Paul Doyle (D) joined Rep. Carpino (R) in unloading the refrigerator truck and loading up the SUVs, trucks, U-Haul rentals and even a cute little convertible that delivered the donations to the families in need.

That’s what politics should really be about: bipartisan public-private partnerships and a sense of making a rotten situation better by just being there for those who need a little bit of help. It made my week!

This Sunday the Annual Ella T. Grasso Women’s Leadership Brunch will kick off (virtually) and the inaugural Ruth Bader Ginsburg Award will be introduced and awarded to a deserving woman here in Connecticut. Congressman John Larson announced the date of his biannual Women for Larson event, which I will have the honor of hosting along with the wonderful Patti Russo, the Executive Director of The Campaign School at Yale. It’s always a great event with over 100 women from the region celebrating Congressman Larson’s work for women, families and his all-time favorite: Pratt & Whitney. This year’s theme comes from Aretha Franklin’s hit song RESPECT. So appropriate for the Congressman and these times.

I thought I would wrap up this week’s column with some of the song lyrics:

• R-E-S-P-E-C-T -  Find out what it means to me - R-E-S-P-E-C-T
• Take care, Oh (sock it to me, sock it to me, sock it to me, sock it to me)
• A little respect (sock it to me, sock it to me, sock it to me, sock it to me)
• Whoa, babe (just a little bit)
• A little respect (just a little bit)
State Bond Commission Spends Abnormally Less Amid Campaign Cycle

September is usually filled with the predictable signs that an election is around the bend: campaign postcards in your mailbox, lawn signs flooding around the town green and possibly one (or seven) phone calls from campaign offices reminding you about the election.

One sign normally seen this year in the Capitol that was noticeably missing was a plethora of local projects being touted by candidates approved by the state bond commission. Normally, months before an election would be filled with announcements of new projects being allocated state resources through bonding. The COVID-19 crisis and a lack of appetite from Governor Lamont to borrow has led to an unusually low amount of what are commonly referred to as "pet projects" for legislators that wish to showcase to voters the ability they had to help their district.

Just how low were those project funding levels this cycle? The best indicator to use as an example is the Office of Policy and Management's "Urban Act grants". This program is normally a desired and sought-after source for funding since there's very wide latitude in qualifying for the program. Simply put, the town CEO (first selectman or mayor) applies on behalf of the town and as long as a case can be made that it's improving the quality of life for all residents it can qualify.

The summer and fall meetings that took place in July and last Tuesday are usually the largest approval meetings before an election, This year the program (which has $193M available in its coffers) only allocated $15.2M. You read that correctly. Between two bond commission meetings before a contentious election, the state allocated 7.8% of what was available.

I think this example shows a couple of things:

(1) The state has started to seriously plan for what will likely be the most grueling budget cycle many of us have seen in a long time (if ever). Despite these dollars not being budget line-items, the expectation and standard is being set that the same resources that were once available won't be in the future.

(2) Not having as much state funding to pursue will necessitate more creative ways to help towns and cities like forging more public-private-partnerships.

(3) The time for towns and cities to begin thinking about regionalizing is now. If the state won't be able to provide funding for these infrastructure needs towns will need to independently fund them or figure out an alternative plan like combining resources with another town or city.

National and Connecticut Absentees Process - As Told in the National Spotlight

If April showers bring May flowers, September's crawl brings October's election sprawl.
Signs, campaign literature and advertisements litter the airwaves and inboxes these days so it's hard to find news about how the most important thing: How to vote!
There were two national outlets this week that did a great job of highlighting the wildly inconsistent absentee policies that exist in each state. Some day we might actually get to a point where like in other countries) all 50 states play by the same rules but until then here's a breakdown of both the national terrain and a special guest lecturer on how to vote absentee in CT.
The Daily Podcast 
For those unfamiliar, The Daily is a podcast that's consistently in the top five most-downloaded podcasts in the US and reports each week day morning with a perspective on a top headline that's not being widely reported. Last Wednesday, the show produced an episode on the "red mirage" that could be seen in a large amount of swing states on election night. This terms is coined from the prediction that more Republican votes for the president (despite outvoting Democratic votes in 2016) will vote in-person and cause a large amount of absentees to be counted with largely votes for Democrats. 
The episode also goes on to outline how every state (even among those who allow no-excuse absentee) have different rules for what is required to submit an absentee ballot AND when the votes are actually counted. Here is a link to the episode for those interested.
Stephen Colbert's "Better Know a Ballot" 
Stephen Colbert saw an opportunity to use his popularity and platform to help people understand how to vote by absentee and sure enough he found the best method! 
Recording 50 different videos for every state, Stephen Colbert, host of The Late Show on CBS, included a video this week for Connecticut voters to understand how to register to vote and (if they choose) how to vote by absentee. 
Babe Ruth's Final Baseball Game

At the risk of sounding like, well, everyone in CT, the best part about our state is that we have the wildest and very infrequently talked about history!

Take for example Babe Ruth who is unquestionably the most famous baseball player to have ever held a bat. Here's an excerpt talking about Babe Ruth playing his final professional game in Hartford!

"In 1945, a promotion-minded Hartford jeweler and a sports legend well past his prime joined together to make baseball history. Superstar Babe Ruth delighted 2,500 Connecticut fans by participating in an exhibition game between the semi-pro Savitt Gems of Hartford and the New Britain Codys. The Gems had been founded by successful local jeweler, Bill Savitt, who used his money and influence to schedule popular charity exhibition games involving some of the biggest names in professional baseball. Babe Ruth’s appearance was Savitt’s biggest celebrity coup yet."

Here is a link to the full story
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