<![CDATA[NBC Connecticut - Connecticut Political News, NY and CT Politics, and More]]> Copyright 2015 http://www.nbcconnecticut.com/news/politics http://media.nbcbayarea.com/designimages/NBC_Connecticut.png NBC Connecticut http://www.nbcconnecticut.com en-us Sun, 02 Aug 2015 16:30:38 -0400 Sun, 02 Aug 2015 16:30:38 -0400 NBC Owned Television Stations <![CDATA[Hartford Election Monitor Established]]> Fri, 31 Jul 2015 19:58:37 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/hartford+registrar+of+voters+2.jpg

The secretary of the state has established an election monitor for the city of Hartford after problems at the polls in November prompted officials to try removing the three registrars of voters from office.

Christine Horrigan, an attorney and longtime leader of the Connecticut League of Women Voters, will serve as the captial city's new election monitor, Secretary of the State Denise Merrill announced Friday.

Horrigan will have an office in Hartford City Hall. She has the authority to inspect and investigate the conduct of election officials, access all records and data available to city election officials and report irregularities.

She is also tasked with overseeing preparations for primaries and general elections in the city of Hartford, getting ballots ready and training election officials and poll workers.

Horrigan will oversee communications among election officials, make sure election officials meet all state deadlines and help "devise and implement a management plan for the successful execution of elections in Hartford that complies with state and federal election laws," Merrill's office said.

It comes in response to a slew of problems during the November 2014 general election, which led to extended hours at several of the city's polling places. The Hartford City Council tried to remove the city's three registrars of voters, but a judge ruled the council lacked the authority to do so.

One of the three resigned in April.

"I am excited to have this opportunity to work closely with the office of the Secretary of the State, the registrars and City Hall to ensure that elections in Hartford are well managed and that all voters have the chance to cast their ballots in a fair, timely and efficient manner," Horrigan said in a statement Friday.

<![CDATA[Car Tax Cuts Coming to Connecticut]]> Fri, 31 Jul 2015 18:42:29 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/CARTAXPIC7312015.jpg

As the state's car tax deadline draws near, some of the state's top lawmakers are working to get the word out about car tax cuts that the General Assembly approved during the most recent legislative session.

The top two members of the State Senate held a show-and-tell of sorts in New Britain on Friday with the president of motor coach company DATTCO.

"You know, our industry has been subject to a lot of new regulations and higher costs, so anything we can do to be more competitive is [a good thing]," said DATTCO president Donald DeVivo. "We’re in a regional marketplace, so anything we can do to be more competitive is definitely helpful."

State Senate Majority Leader Bob Duff, a Democrat from Norwalk, touted the car tax cuts as "tangible benefits for the businesses of the state of Connecticut."

Lawmakers approved capping the state's car tax rate at 29.36 mills by the 2018 fiscal year. Any city or town with a mill rate higher than that will see a cut to its mill rate specifically for motor vehicles by that time.

The cut comes in two phases. The first phase trims local car taxes to 32 mills by July 2016 and the second phase reaches the cap of 29.36 by July 2017.

Lawmakers sold the plan as a way to provide real property tax relief for the first time, while maintaining the amount of state aid to cities and towns by dedicating some sales tax revenues to municipal aid. That way, lawmakers argue, they can keep sending the same share of state funds back to cities and towns at the higher mill rates.

Martin Looney, top member of the Connecticut Senate, called the car tax cut a "transformative element" of the next two year budget cycle.

Matthew Casarotto, who paid his $460 car tax bill Friday said he's very much looking forward to a 40 percent cut in New Britain, which has a mill rate of 49.

"That would actually be great. That would be wonderful. I just paid the security deposit for the place I’m moving into and I’m paying rent and I had this today, too, so it’s a big chunk of change. A bit lower would be nice," Casarotto said.

<![CDATA[GOP Taps First Hispanic Candidate for Waterbury Mayor]]> Wed, 29 Jul 2015 19:49:10 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/waterbury+jose+morales.jpg

Waterbury mayoral candidate Jose Morales may not have the widest name-recognition, but city Republicans say once Brass City residents get to know him, they will love what he has to say.

"We have so many businesses that are closing," Morales said of the economy in Waterbury. "We have to go back to promote the city."

Morales is a judicial marshal in Hartford but was born and raised near downtown Waterbury. That appeal is what Jason Van Stone, the chairman of the Waterbury Republican Town Committee, believes will resonate with voters.

"He lives all of these problems everyday. He could speak to the people about what he sees his friends and family going through and I think he’s the person who could deliver that message for the Republican Party the best at this time," Van Stone said.

Van Stone and Morales practically brush off the fact that Morales is the first Hispanic candidate for mayor of one Connecticut's biggest cities.

"This isn't about that," Morales said.

Morales said he wants to cut taxes and provide incentives for more stores and businesses to locate to Waterbury as a way to boost job growth and tax receipts.

"The city has to be promoted in a way that people can come into the city and spend money, but right now, the things that are going are not good for the city," Morales said.

Morales is up against Mayor Neil O'Leary, who is running for his second term. He's been mayor since December 2011 and previously served as Waterbury's police chief.

O'Leary received the unanimous endorsement of the Waterbury Democratic Town Committee and said his record will stand on its own.

"I think our fiscal conservative polices have gone a long way to move the city forward, but also in the fact that Waterbury now is very very diversified and I think the political process is important for the city to move forward," he said.

O'Leary said he got to know Morales when the two sat on the Waterbury school board several years ago. He said it's a good thing to have the first Hispanic run for the city's top job.

"I think it's great for the city," O'Leary said. "That should improve involvement in city politics for many residents."

<![CDATA[Malloy Meets With Hartford North End Residents]]> Wed, 29 Jul 2015 19:40:33 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/gov+dannel+malloy+hartford.JPG

Gov. Dannel Malloy answered questions about the recent spike in killings in the capital city while meeting with residents of Hartford's North End on Wednesday to discuss his Second Chance Society initiative Wednesday.

Malloy said the state's recent assistance won't change any time soon.

"We’re sending resources to Hartford, New Haven and Bridgeport on an ongoing basis," Malloy said. "We need to support the community. We need to help the community."

On the issue of the Second Chance Society, which eliminates mandatory minimum sentences for non-violent drug offenses and created new housing and substance abuses programs for recently released inmates, Malloy said it's on him to help residents comprehend the significance.

"We also need people to understand that we’re in the process of changing things and particularly with this Second Chance Society initiative," the governor said.

He added that now is the time for him to be even more vocal about it.

"If you’re trying to send a message but the person isn’t open to receiving it because at that point because it’s not important to them at that point then your having delivered it once isn’t enough," he said. "You’ve got to be out there."

The issue of violence in Hartford has also dominated the race for mayor.

Hartford Mayor Pedro Segarra has recently provided several reasons for the 19 homicides already in 2015 when there were only 17 during all of last year.

With help from state police investigators, several arrests have been made in connection with multiple killings, according to Segarra.

"We need to make sure that we work together to maintain continuity so that we’re not responding to spikes and that we have joint cooperation," he said.

Segarra was at the same time critical last week when asked why the homicide number had increased year over year. He cited recent releases from a state correctional facility in Hartford, as well as the lack of resources from the state.

According to state records, an argument can be made that Hartford is receiving more help than ever before, with state aid increasing for 2016 and 2017 with consistent aid in 2015. Overall, Hartford will have received more than $750 million from the state during that period.

In addition, there are more parole officers overseeing fewer former inmates. The number of officers has remained steady at 107 over the past five years, while the number of those being supervised has decreased by more than 700.

Segarra said Wednesday that Hartford could still use more help.

"We could always use more resources, and of course, the state has its challenges and we have our challenges and we continue to work strategically," he said.

Luke Bronin, who earlier this week received the Hartford Democratic Town Committee nomination over Segarra, said the mayor's rhetoric hasn't changed the reality and culture of violence that has overcome the city since the beginning of the year.

"We have seen a devastating spike in crime over the past few months, and I think I have been very clear that this is a time for leadership," Bronin said.

He said Hartford has been in a downward cycle since the spring and that needs to change.

"We cannot be a city where when the weather turns warm, violence becomes part of the forecast," Bronin said.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com]]>
<![CDATA[Hartford Mayor Continues Campaign as Part of Slate]]> Wed, 29 Jul 2015 17:40:15 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/pedro+segarra+slate+hartford.jpg

Hartford Mayor Pedro Segarra announced Wednesday that he will continue his campaign for reelection as part of a slate that includes six candidates for city council.

Other members of the slate include Hartford City Council candidates Ken Kennedy, Kyle Anderson, Giselle Feliciano, James Woulfe, Luwannia Johnson Martin and Edward Casares Jr.

Kennedy and Anderson are current councilmembers and Casares is a former fire chief in Hartford. Feliciano serves as executive assistant to council, according to Segarra's campaign.

Segarra's campaign said the candidates, like the mayor himself, are petitioning for spots on the ballot during September's primary election.

The mayor said during Wednesday's announcement the city of Hartford belongs to the people and that the election will be decided by the general population rather than a select few. He said city residents want to elect his team.

According to his campaign, Segarra decided to join the slate after Monday's nominating convention. The mayor walked out of the convention and the Democratic Party endorsed challenger Luke Bronin.

It's not clear what Segarra, a Democrat, plans to announce in Wednesday's news conference. The event will take place at 5 p.m. Wednesday on the front steps of Hartford City Hall.

Segarra walked out of the Hartford Democratic Town Committee's nominating convention Monday night. Challenger Luke Bronin secured the nomination.

<![CDATA[Hartford Democrats Endorse Luke Bronin for Mayor]]> Mon, 27 Jul 2015 23:17:58 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/luke+bronin+endorsement.jpg

The Hartford Democratic Town Committee endorsed Luke Bronin for mayor after incumbent Pedro Segarra walked out of the nominating convention Monday night.

The drama unfolded at Bulkeley High School, stunning the crowd of mostly party insiders. After the nominations, both candidates were expected to give short speeches.

"There comes a time when someone has to do what is in their conscience as the right thing. I decline the nomination for mayor of the city of Hartford," Segarra said, amid loud applause and cheers from his supporters.

The mayor then walked out.

"I am a resident of this city for 41 years and I will not lend myself to a process," Segarra said, stopping briefly in the hallway to address reporters. "The majority of the people in this city are happy with my leadership and I will take this to the people."

As Segarra supporters chanted "four more years" from the hallway, voting got underway in the high school auditorium.

In the end, 49 committee members voted for Bronin, a Yale Law School graduate and former legal adviser to Gov. Dannel Malloy, well over the majority of 40 required to win. Segarra supporters abstained from voting.

Segarra said he will gather petition signatures to qualify for the Sept. 16 primary.

Bronin, who has received the support of several candidates who dropped out of the race, said he was "honored" to accept the endorsement.

"What I've been talking about in this campaign is a mayor who takes responsibility and who holds himself accountable and what we saw tonight was a mayor who walked away when he knew he didn't have the votes and to me that says it all," Bronin said, accepting the endorsement.

Bronin has criticized the mayor for his response to recent violence in Hartford. His campaign said Segarra walked out before the vote because he did not expect to win the nomination.

Segarra, for his part, has accused Bronin of being an outsider and part of a political machine.

"I couldn't be farther from a machine in Hartford. This is about bringing change to Hartford," said Bronin.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com]]>
<![CDATA[Killian Leaves Hartford Mayoral Race, Endorses Bronin]]> Fri, 24 Jul 2015 19:41:25 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/MayrolRace00000000.jpg

Former probate judge Robert Killian has withdrawn from the Hartford mayoral race and endorsed challenger Luke Bronin.

"I believe my whirlwind campaign for Mayor, which ends today, has had the effect of sharpening the debate and has required others who seek the office to sharpen their recognition of the issues I believe are crucial to our city's future," Killian said in a statement Friday.

Killian has previously criticized the city's decision to build a multimillion-dollar baseball stadium and spending on pension and retirement plans for elected officials.

The recently retired judge threw his support Friday to Democratic challenger Luke Bronin, who served as top legal adviser to Gov. Dannel Malloy and also earned the endorsement of former mayoral candidate John Gale.

"I believe Hartford will fail without new leadership. I don't believe the Mayor holds out any promise for change. I do think I do and I think Luke Bronin does," Killian said in the statement. "I also believe, that despite my insignificant lead over Luke in my recent poll, his anticipated party endorsement coupled with his ability to fund a landmark campaign makes him the odds on favorite to beat the Mayor in a head to head race."

Killian called Bronin "smart, caring and capable of restoring our city's ability to meet its obligations to all our constituents" and urged his supporters to now stand behind Bronin's campaign.

The campaign of incumbent Mayor Pedro Segarra released the following statement in response to Killian's withdrawal from the race:

"Judge Killian’s endorsement of Luke Bronin is not surprising, nor his reason for pulling out of the race. It is evident through Judge Killian’s actions that he is receiving the same numbers and results we are. We know the numbers, and so does he, which is why he pulled out of the race. We welcome the challenge, and have said all along that Mayor Segarra is in this race for the people and not the politics. We are confident that Judge Killian’s decision will not affect our overall electorate, and Mayor Segarra will be victorious in the primary."

Bronin previously received the backing of Democratic State Rep. Angel Arce and hopes to unseat Segarra.

<![CDATA[New Downtown Lofts Being Built in Hartford]]> Wed, 22 Jul 2015 21:52:30 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/Lofts00000000.jpg

Gov. Dannel Malloy and Hartford Mayor Pedro Segarra helped with a groundbreaking for 72 new loft apartments off Wyllys Street and Charter Oak Avenue on Wednesday.

The new Capewell Lofts received roughly $8 million in state assistance and will also qualify for state and federal historical grants.

"This is a big, big deal for Hartford," said Segarra.

The new lofts are located in downtown Hartford, a city that has seen 18 homicides already in 2015, which is on pace with last year's overall total of 19 homicides.

Despite issues the city has been facing, which have included meetings with state officials, the mayor is confident people will lease apartments here.

He said between the Capewell building and a new building on Allyn Street, there will be activity in both locations.

"Allyn Street is fully rented and I feel that these lofts here, which are very geographically placed in a very nice place, will also be fully rented as well," Segarra said.

Malloy said he's made it a point during his administration to invest in housing because he views it as a way to redevelop parts of communities that need assistance.

"This is a strategy I used in Stamford over a 14-year period of time and I’ll stand by that work," he said. "I think it’ll work in Hartford. I think it’ll work in New Haven. I think it’ll work in Bridgeport."

Malloy added that he's done more for housing investment than some of his predecessors.

"My administration has now spent more money on housing four and a half years than the prior three administrations over a period of 20 years, and what we’re seeing is that beginning to pay off in New Haven, in Hartford, in Stamford and elsewhere," Malloy said.

The Capewell Lofts are slated to open by the end of 2016.

<![CDATA[Hartford Mayoral Candidates Take Swipes]]> Wed, 22 Jul 2015 19:15:41 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/hartford+city+hall_722.jpg

The three Democrats vying for the party's nomination to run for Hartford mayor are jockeying over the final days ahead of the Democratic Town Committee's meeting next Monday night.

Mayor Pedro Segarra, in the final year of his term, says he's not banking on the DTC to provide him a boost heading into the September primary election. He says he's going to depend on support he's built through working neighborhoods.

"I am asking for support, but at the same time that I am asking for support, I will not revert to the same machine style politics that people have played in order to get support," he said.

Segarra declined to expand on what he meant by "machine-style" politics.

It's safe to assume however, that the criticism was a dig at Luke Bronin, the former legal adviser to Gov. Dannel Malloy who has picked up momentum for the past several months with unprecedented fundraising for the city's top job.

"Remember, before I became mayor there were incidents that happen where people got into a lot of trouble by playing those kinds of games and I’m not going to revert to that," Segarra said.

Bronin, for his part, said he's not sure what Segarra is talking about. It's widely believed in city Democratic circles that Bronin will secure the DTC nomination next week.

"I don’t think I could be any farther from machine politics," Bronin said.

He added that it's Segarra's weak support that has his campaign in its current position.

"I think the reason we’re even competing for the Democratic Town Committee endorsement just like we’re gaining support among voters is because Hartford needs a change," Bronin said.

The dark-horse candidate in the race is former probate judge Robert Killian. He takes credit for the campaigns discussing issues during debates that's he's brought to light over the past 12 weeks.

"No one was talking about being opposed to a baseball stadium. No one was talking about PILOT (payment in lieu of taxes). No one was talking about issues like the absolutely murderous mill rate that we have in the city of Hartford," Killian said during an interview Wednesday.

Killian said he, like the mayor, is focusing all his attention on the primary. He said his experience working directly with Hartford residents is what will drive him toward the nomination.

"I think the fact that I’ve had not just a media contact with people, but an eyeball-to-eyeball, hand-to-hand contact with people makes a significant difference," Killian said.

Then, with a nod toward the Bronin campaign, Killian remarked about how he could meet with people he actually knows in Hartford.

"Door knocking is a poor substitute for having sat with people and discussed crucial issues in their life and resolved as best you can those issues for them and with them," Killian said.

Bronin admitted Wednesday that door knocking has been his primary strategy but he stands by the campaign as a way to meet with voters.

"Look, I’ve knocked on over 3,000 doors so far and I could tell you that there’s a lot of support out there for new energy and strong leadership inside city hall and there’s a deep desire for change," Bronin said.

<![CDATA[WATCH: Lindsey Graham Destroy His Phone After Trump's Comments]]> Wed, 22 Jul 2015 16:37:09 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/graham+screen+shot.JPG

Lindsey Graham won't be receiving any unwanted phone calls for the time being.

A day after Donald Trump implored a campaign crowd to call a phone number belonging to the GOP presidential candidate and South Carolina senator, Graham responded with a tongue-in-cheek video showing him destroying his flip phone.

Graham teamed up with conservative news website Independent Journal Review for the aptly named video "How to Destroy Your Cell Phone With Sen. Lindsey Graham."

The video shows Graham wrecking his phone in a multitude of ways, including with a blender, a sledge hammer, and a toaster oven.

After throwing his phone off a building, Graham faces the camera and says, "Or if all else fails, you can always give your number to The Donald."

"This is for all the veterans," Graham says before a final toss of the phone.  

Trump had given out Graham's phone number during a televised campaign stop in South Carolina Tuesday where the real estate mogul brushed off criticism over comments he made about Sen. John McCain.

"He's a war hero because he was captured. I like people that weren't captured," Trump had said about the former Naval pilot held prisoner for nearly six years during the Vietnam War. 

Graham had called Trump a "jackass" over the McCain remarks. 

McCain, meanwhile, promoted Graham's new video with a tweet that read, "This is why Lindsey Graham hasn't been answering my calls!"

Trump has yet to respond to the video. 

Photo Credit: IJ Review
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<![CDATA[Part of Former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich's Sentence Vacated]]> Wed, 22 Jul 2015 09:53:02 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/rod+blagojevich+1+year.jpg

Former governor Rod Blagojevich got bad news Tuesday from the court which has been considering his appeal for the last 18 months. The three judges on the federal appeals court threw out only five of the Blagojevich’s convictions, and ordered that he stay in prison.

The former governor will be resentenced, but his outlook is uncertain.

“I’ve had an opportunity to look over the opinion, and it’s not justice in my view,” said Blagojevich attorney Leonard Goodman. “He never put a penny in his pocket.”

Belying the notoriety of the case, the majority of the court’s opinion was rendered in strict legalese.

"The convictions on Counts 5, 6, 21, 22 and 23 are vacated; the remaining convictions are affirmed," the opinion stated. "The sentence is vacated and remanded for retrial on the vacated counts."

Those five counts related to Blagojevich’s negotiations for a cabinet job which he hoped to snag in exchange for appointing Presidential-choice Valerie Jarrett to a vacant U.S. Senate seat. But in other areas, the court made clear the former governor’s convictions should remain intact.

“Blagojevich viewed the opportunity to appoint a new senator as a bonanza,” Judge Frank Easterbrook wrote in the 23-page opinion. “Blagojevich asks us to hold that the evidence is insufficient to convict him on any count. The argument is frivolous. The evidence, much of it from Blagojevich’s own mouth, is overwhelming.”

“We’ve waited a long time for this decision and we are very disappointed,” said the former governor’s wife Patti. “If there’s any silver lining for us, is that possibly this is a step in the right direction, to getting him home with us.”

That could be a long road. While the court ordered that Blagojevich be resentenced, they went out of their way to say they did not believe his existing 14-year sentence was unreasonable.

“It is not possible to call 168 months unlawfully high for Blagojevich’s crimes,” Easterbrook wrote. “But the district judge should consider on remand, whether it is the most appropriate sentence.”

Former Blagojevich lawyer Sam Adam, said he had to believe trial judge James Zagel would render a lower sentence.

“You have to reduce his sentence,” Adam said. “How could you say the 14-year sentence was right for all of them. Now you take five out and it’s still the same?”

“There’s just something about that that’s fundamentally unfair.”

The appellate court also took issue with Blagojevich’s argument that he should have been allowed to explain that his real plan was to offer the senate seat to Attorney General Lisa Madigan, in exchange for political cooperation from her father, House Speaker Michael Madigan. Easterbrook suggested that one apparent legal gambit did not negate possible shenanigans which were being plotted at the same time.

“A bank robber cannot show that on many other occasions he entered a bank without pulling a gun on a teller,” he wrote. “Nor can a teller charged with embezzlement show how often he made correct entries in the books.”

In 2009, Blagojevich was impeached from the governor's office after being charged with racketeering, bribery, wire fraud and attempted extortion, including the "sale" of Obama's Senate seat.

He was sentenced to prison and given a $20,000 fine in 2011 when he was convicted of 17 counts of corruption, including trying to sell now-President Barack Obama's Senate seat to the highest bidder. He had previously been convicted, in an earlier trial, of lying to the FBI.

Reached at his home in Nashville, Blagojevich’s brother Robert, said he was not hopeful Zagel would extend much mercy.

“I’m very cynical with regard to the whole system,” Blagojevich said. “I’m also jaundiced when it comes to the key players in this drama, especially Judge Zagel. So I’m not hopeful for Rod to get any measure of fairness from him.”

The elder Blagojevich was especially angry about comments the appellate judges made, blasting the former governor for involvement in a scheme to appoint Jesse Jackson Jr. to the senate seat in exchange for $1.5 million in campaign contributions.

“That is just flat out not true,” Blagojevich said, noting that as his brother’s chief campaign fundraiser, it was he who had been approached by Jackson’s emissaries with the $1.5 million offer.

“That is an altered reality to what I know and what I experienced,” he said. “That is just flat out wrong!”

Attorney Lauren Kaeseberg, who worked on the Blagojevich appeal and represented him at both trials, said she had to remain hopeful.

“Knowing him as a person, I’m sure he also sees some hope and is optimistic that he’ll be with his family again,” Kaeseberg said. “You know it pains him greatly to be missing out each day with his daughters.”

Her co-counsel Goodman, suggested that the decision defied common sense.

“I think most people agree the sentence is incredibly harsh for a case that’s all about politics,” Goodman said. “Never put a penny in his pocket. It’s all politics!”

<![CDATA[GOP Field Grows to 16 as Ohio Gov. Kasich Announces 2016 Run]]> Tue, 21 Jul 2015 12:33:56 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/kasich-GettyImages-471835132.jpg

Saying "big ideas change the world," Ohio Gov. John Kasich declared his candidacy for the Republican nomination Tuesday and set about trying to distinguish himself in a bustling contest with other high achievers.

The outspoken swing-state governor declared his candidacy Tuesday before a crowd of 2,000 at Ohio State University, saying "the sun is going to rise to the zenith in America again." The 63-year-old is the 16th notable Republican to enter the race. 

"I am here to ask you for your prayers, for your support, for your efforts because I have decided to run for president," Kasich, a strong-willed and sometimes abrasive governor, said in a scattered speech packed with family anecdotes, historical references and a pitch for his well-rounded resume.

A veteran congressman as well as governor, Kasich is telling voters he is the only GOP candidate with experience in three broad areas of political leadership — the federal budget, national security and state government. As well, he spent nearly a decade at Lehman Brothers.

"I have the experience and the testing," he said, "the testing which shapes you and prepares you for the most important job in the world and I believe I know how to work and help restore this great United States."

As budget chairman in the House, he became an architect of a deal in 1997 that balanced the federal budget.

Now in his second term in swing-state Ohio, he's helped erase a budget deficit projected at nearly $8 billion when he entered office, boost Ohio's rainy-day fund to a historic high and seen private-sector employment rebound to its post-recession level.

This, through budget cutting, privatization of parts of Ohio's government and other, often business-style innovations.

Unions that turned back an effort by Kasich and fellow Republicans to limit public workers' collective bargaining rights say Kasich's successes have come at a cost to local governments and schools, and that new Ohio jobs lack the pay and benefits of the ones they replaced. They plan a protest outside Tuesday's launch.

Kasich embraces conservative ideals but bucks his party on occasion and disdains the Republican sport of bashing Democrat Hillary Rodham Clinton.

His entry nearly rounds out an unusually diverse Republican lineup with two Hispanics, an African-American, one woman and several younger candidates alongside older white men. So many are running that it's unclear Kasich will qualify for the GOP's first debate in his home state in just two weeks.

In recent months, he's made trips to New Hampshire, South Carolina, Iowa, New York and Michigan, and will be returning to early voting states. His allies at the political organization New Day for America reported raising $11.5 million on Kasich's behalf before his entry into the race. 

Photo Credit: Bloomberg via Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[McCain Calls Trump's Comments 'Totally Inappropriate]]> Mon, 20 Jul 2015 10:21:49 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/NC_trumpmccain_1500x845.jpg Senator John McCain says Donald Trump owes an apology to all the prisoners of war he served with. Trump recently stated that McCain is not a war hero, is only considered a war hero "because he was captured" and "I like people that weren't captured." McCain was reluctant to call himself a hero, but added that Trump's recent comments criticizing P.O.W.'s were "totally inappropriate."]]> <![CDATA[Walker: Trump 'Needs to Apologize' for McCain Comments]]> Mon, 20 Jul 2015 07:19:00 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-473663490+%281%29_scott_walker.jpg

Wisconsin Gov. and Republican presidential candidate Scott Walker said Donald Trump "needs to apologize" for his comments questioning whether Sen. John McCain is a war hero. 

Walker, who tried to ignore Trump's inflammatory rhetoric by leaning on the old "Reagan commandment" that discourages attacks against fellow Republicans, also had a message for the real-estate mogul's supporters.

"At a minimum, he needs to apologize," Walker said in an interview with NBC News. "I think more people need to push him. Not just candidates or elected officials, I think more people across America including some of those who, maybe up until now, have been supporters of him."

Trump said Saturday McCain is "not a war hero because he was captured. I like people that weren't captured." Under fire, Trump later acknowledged that McCain's sacrifice was heroic.

Walker was careful not to mention Trump by name but said his insulting rant against McCain went too far, "when it came to personal attack like this against the military, an American hero, I'm gonna call it like I see it."

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Malloy Tours Prison; Touts Second Chance]]> Fri, 17 Jul 2015 11:49:08 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/malloypic02172015.jpg

Gov. Dannel Malloy spent Thursday touring the Hartford Correctional Center, which houses nearly 1,000 inmates, in an effort to market new criminal justice reforms that lawmakers approved during the Special Session.

Malloy's tour fell on the same day President Barack Obama visited Oklahoma and became the first sitting president to tour an active federal prison, touting his own set of criminal justice reforms.

The governor was accompanied Thursday by about 30 people, including Correction Commissioner Scott Semple, Lt. Gov. Nancy Wyman and several correction officers.

Malloy met with a group of about a dozen inmates and said he tried to convey to them the importance of ending the cycle that lands them back in prison.

"In the Second Chance bill, there’s additional dollars for housing, additional dollars for job training, obviously within the budget, there are additional dollars for mental health as well," Malloy said following the tour.

The new law reduces criminal penalties for non-violent offenders with specific provisions for those serving time for minor drug possession without an intent to sell.

"What we’re trying to do in Connecticut is to lead the way to finding better outcomes," Malloy said.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com]]>
<![CDATA[Gale Drops Hartford Mayoral Bid to Endorse Bronin]]> Fri, 17 Jul 2015 11:50:52 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/luke+bronin+john+gale.jpg

Luke Bronin, a mainly unknown political quantity several months ago, has picked up a major endorsement in the race for Hartford mayor.

It came from one of his former challengers for the Democratic nomination in the race.

"As of today, I am no longer a candidate for mayor," said John Gale, a Hartford attorney and active member of the city's Democratic Town Committee.

Gale will set his sights on a run for the Hartford City Council instead and provide a boost to the Bronin campaign, which has gained momentum in recent weeks in its effort to unseat incumbent Mayor Pedro Segarra.

“We don’t just need a new mayor, but we need a new culture in city government that puts service to the community above all else," Gale said.

Bronin hugged Gale when he announced his support.

“I could not be more proud than to stand with you today," Bronin said Thursday in front of about 25 supporters on Farmington Avenue in Hartford. “We know Hartford needs a change and we know that if we bring that change and a change in leadership and create a city hall – where you call city hall [and] someone actually picks up the phone – then we will be a city with great days still ahead."

Segarra's campaign manager, Michael Bland, brushed off Gale's endorsement of Bronin.

"He’s entitled to his opinion and he could do what he wants to do," Bland said.

Judge Robert Killian, the third Democrat in the race for the nomination, said Gale and Bronin have been supporting his platforms since the day he entered the race.

"I was the one who opposed the stadium and then they followed," said Killian. "The same thing with taxes."

Killian said he wasn't surprised by the Gale's decision, considering his place in the race.

"I think a wise politician assesses the situation and makes a judgment as to when its time to hold them and when its time to fold them," Killian said.

He pledged to stay in the race.

Bronin, a Rhodes Scholar and a graduate of Yale Law School, served as top legal adviser to Gov. Dannel Malloy until December 2014.

He helped craft the recently passed "Second Chance Society" criminal justice reforms that reduce mandatory penalties for nonviolent offenders.

Bronin also received the backing of Democratic Rep. Angel Arce, of Hartford, two weeks ago.

<![CDATA[Boston Mayor Says Trump Should Apologize or Stay Out of Boston]]> Tue, 14 Jul 2015 12:17:21 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/walshtrump.jpg

Boston Mayor Marty Walsh has a message for Donald Trump: Apologize for your comments about Mexico or stay out of Boston. 

"I think his comments are inappropriate," Walsh told the Boston Herald on Monday. "And if he wanted to build a hotel here (in Boston), he'd have to make some apologies to people in this country."

Trump, a Republican candidate for president, has come under fire in recent weeks for criticizing Mexico and immigrants who come to the U.S. illegally. He said they bring drugs and crime with them and are "rapists."

NBC, which owns this website, cited Trump's comments when it cut business ties with him as the former partner in the Miss USA pageant and dropped its pageant telecast. Macy's, which carried a Trump menswear line, also ended its relationship with him. 

Photo Credit: necn]]>
<![CDATA[Trump: 'Nobody Wants to Talk About' Immigration, Crime]]> Sat, 11 Jul 2015 12:26:06 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/Donald+Trump2.jpg

Presidential candidate Donald Trump decried the American media's supposed unwillingness to cover undocumented immigration in his press appearance at a Los Angeles hotel Friday, doubling down on controversial remarks even as protesters gathered outside.

Trump said Mexico's leaders are "smarter" than those in the United States, and that Mexican leaders send people "that they don't want" across the U.S. border. Similar remarks over the past week have provoked two celebrity chefs to pull out of deals with Trump hotels.

"They're sending criminals to us and we're sending those criminals to jail, oftentimes after they've killed somebody or hurt somebody," Trump said at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel.

The families of several people killed by undocumented immigrants joined Trump at the news conference and said they stood behind the outspoken mogul's comments on illegal immigration, which have also inspired multiple businesses — including NBC Universal and Univision — to cut ties with Trump's business.

"No one really listened to us, our story really wasn't heard," said Sabine Durden, whose 30-year-old son was killed by a driver who was an undocumented immigrant from Guatemala three years ago. "When I heard Mr. Trump, I started screaming," she said. "Finally, someone who had the guts to say what millions are thinking."

Meanwhile, protesters rallied outside the hotel in response to Trump's comments about Mexican immigrants. The protest was organized by the CHIRLA Action Fund, the political arm of a California-based immigrant rights organization.

Some protesters carried Donald Trump piñatas filled with trash to "represent the type of language the candidate has been spewing," according to a CHIRLA statement.

"There is no way a candidate for the highest elected office in the land can utter the type of hateful language that Trump is known for and expect to win the Latino/immigrant vote," Diana Colin, CHIRLA Action Funds program director, said in a statement. "And everyone knows the road to the White House is paved with Latino/immigrant votes. Mr. Trump should do the math."

Trump also met with the father of a high school football standout killed by a gang member who was in the country illegally. Trump told syndicated talk show host Dana Loesch he was meeting with Jamiel Shaw — the father of Jamiel Shaw II -- "and pay my respects to him."

The elder Shaw praised Trump in interviews this week on the Fox News Channel and with Loesch for his criticism of illegal immigration. Shaw told Loesch that Trump's criticism of illegal immigration is "resonating in the black community because we see all the carnage that's happened and all the memorials. We see all the jobs that are gone. We see the whole community changing."

Jamiel Shaw II was a Los Angeles High School football standout who was shot and killed in 2008 near his Arlington Heights home by a gang member who prosecutors said mistakenly perceived him as a gang rival because he was carrying a red Spider-Man backpack. Pedro Espinoza, convicted of first-degree murder in 2012 and sentenced to death, was living in the United States without legal permission at the time of the killing. He had been freed from jail two days before the shooting without immigration authorities placing a hold on him.

Trump's arrival in Los Angeles follows a week of fallout from his comments about immigrants. Alex Nogales, president of the National Hispanic Media Coalition, said Thursday that the PGA of America's decision this week to move a golf tournament from a Trump-owned course was a step in the right direction.

The PGA and other major golf organizations should agree to keep tournaments off Trump properties in response to his comments about Mexican immigrants, Nogales said. The PGA said it relocated its Grand Slam of Golf, in mutual agreement with Trump.

NBC ended its partnership with Trump on the Miss Universe and Miss USA pageants after the celebrity billionaire, in announcing his presidential campaign, said some Mexican immigrants to the U.S. bring drugs and crime, and some are rapists.

"When Mexico sends its people, they're not sending their best," he said. "They're sending people that have lots of problems, and they're bringing those problems with (them). They're bringing drugs. They're bringing crime. They're rapists. And some, I assume, are good people."

Trump vowed to file paperwork next week ensuring he would qualify for next month's Republican presidential debate, where his immigration policies could emerge as a focus on national television. Trump said Thursday that his Republican competitor Jeb Bush is "a joke" for suggesting that Mexican immigrants cross the border illegally as "an act of love."

"This has nothing to do with love," Trump said in an interview airing Thursday on Fox News Channel's "Hannity." "They are taking people that should be in Mexican prisons, Mexican jails and they are pushing them over to the United States. These are dangerous people."

<![CDATA[Charter Schools Subject to New Accountability]]> Thu, 09 Jul 2015 20:25:50 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/CHARTERPIC07092015.jpg

For the first time in the 20 years they've existed, Connecticut charter schools will have to abide by similar rules as traditional public schools.

The new law requires charter schools to make additional financial disclosures that will include an audited statement of revenues. In addition, the accountability measure places new restrictions on nepotism and requires that all employees, including administrators, undergo background checks.

"I think the charter school accountability is a step in the right direction," said Mark Waxenberg, executive director of the Connecticut Education Association. "I think that the public needs to know where those dollars are being spent."

Connecticut lawmakers passed a law authorizing charter schools in 1995. Since then, charter schools have been run primarily outside the traditional standards and guidelines for the state's public schools.

The charter school community has liked it that way, but this measure is something they're willing to accept.

"A large part of this law really strengthens accountability and transparency, and it leaves out what national experts have said is best practices," said Jeremiah Grace with the Northeast Charter School Network. "When you are increasing accountability, you are also increasing autonomy."

Grace said he believes that what makes charter school special is their existence outside the normal public school structure.

"Our hope was that charters would be granted certain levels of flexibility that would hopefully breed innovation," he said.

Overall, charter schools and their supporters had a very successful legislative session, with a pair of key victories. A moratorium on new charter schools was removed from the budget during negotiations, and about $5 million in funding was restored for the opening of two new charter schools in Stamford and Bridgeport.

Waxenberg said the new charter school law will only improve educational opportunities and transparency in the state.

"If [money is] not being spent to benefit our students and they’re going toward the operation of some other bureaucratic charter management organization or some other state with their operation, I think the state has to understand that that’s not the way we do business in our state of Connecticut," he said. "So we do need the transparency to assure that all of the money in the state of Connecticut to fund public education is being spent appropriately."

<![CDATA[New Law Scales Back Penalty for Minor Drug Crimes]]> Thu, 09 Jul 2015 20:16:29 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/malloy+second+chance+signing.jpg

With his signature Thursday, Gov. Dannel Malloy officially wrapped up his second huge policy win during the legislative session. He had been pushing "Second Chance Society" and criminal justice reform legislation since a speech he gave at Yale Law School in the winter.

"The idea that we got both Second Chance and transportation in one legislation is really quite remarkable," Malloy said, after signing the bill. "If you talk about accomplishments in a session, this is about as good as it gets."

The Second Chance Society legislation approved during the Special Session eliminates mandatory minimum sentences for minor drug possession and places a one-year cap on such prison sentences. The new also expedites both the pardons and paroles processes for nonviolent offenders.

"We have to understand that some people make small mistakes and some people make much larger mistakes. Violent crime, for instance, is a plague in many parts of our state and many parts of our nation," Malloy said.

The proposal had bipartisan support and never faced any sort of organized opposition.

Top Senate Republican Len Fasano praised the legislation and the process that led to it.

"This is the kind of good policy that gets developed when both sides work together," he said.

It's estimated that about 500 people are in the custody of the Connecticut Department of Correction due to minor drug possession without intent to sell.

Representatives from the ACLU of Connecticut say the Second Chance measure will reduce that number and increase the offenders' overall legal and health outcomes.

"What we’re going to see is the prison population continue to drop and public safety get better and better," said David McGuire, the policy and legislative director for the ACLU of Connecticut. "So this is going to make our criminal justice system smarter in terms of who’s getting out and when they get out, and who needs to go to prison and who needs to get treatment."

The state budget was crafted with built in-savings from the Department of Correction that accounts for fewer inmates as a result of the Second Chance Society bill.

Malloy wouldn't rule out the future closure of a state prison.

"As violent offenders do longer terms but as we change our approach to non-violent offenders... there will be the occasion for us to close some additional beds, and I expect that that’s going to happen," he said.

<![CDATA[Hartford Giving Residents Say in How to Spend $1.2 Million]]> Tue, 07 Jul 2015 21:41:01 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/hartford+city+hall_722.jpg

Hartford's mayor and city council set aside $1.2 million for "participatory budgeting," which allows residents to vote on projects they want the city to fund.

The concept isn't new. It's been utilized in some of the the country's biggest cities like New York, Boston, and Chicago. Hartford is the first city in Connecticut to give it a try.

“In New York City, for example, they did some parks, senior centers, community projects, that for many years had not been done, through that process. Now they get to decide how that money’s been spent," said Hartford Mayor Pedro Segarra.

In Hartford, the projects could include street improvements, park upgrades, and even for the destruction of blighted buildings.

Segarra, a Democrat from Hartford, said it was an easy decision to give the new spending proposal the green light "because the tax dollars come from our community and the people have an absolute right to decide how it’s going to be spent."

Some of the organizational support for the new program came from Hartford 2000, the umbrella group of the different neighborhood revitalization groups in the city.

"I think it’s a great way because it all comes from the citizens of Hartford and the city of Hartford doesn’t have anything to do with it," said Jackie McKinney, one of the co-chairs of the group. "The projects are developed by the citizens of Hartford and are voted on by the citizens."

Hartford voters will have the final say in a February 2016 vote. The projects would begin during the 2017 budget year.

<![CDATA[Hartford Residents Fed Up With Run-Down Buildings]]> Tue, 07 Jul 2015 21:37:42 -0400 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/hartford+broad+street+blight.jpg

Across some of the Hartford's neighborhoods, homes have sat vacant for years, and residents say officials needs to take action or the city may never recover.

The empty house at 1912-14 Broad Street in the Maple Avenue neighborhood is flanked by tall shrubbery and unkempt grass. The windows and doors are boarded up with plywood, and garbage is strewn around the backyard.

Hyacinth Yennie chairs the Maple Avenue Revitalization Group and says something has to be done to improve the Broad Street house and similar structures around the city.

"We have lots of these properties that belong to the banks and I’m expecting somebody, somebody in the city to hold these banks accountable to clear their property, but there’s no one," she said.

Yennie says it's the city's responsibility to work to improve neighborhoods.

"This city needs to get focused on blighted property in our city. The fact is that we’re losing homeownership in the city, and if you want people to move into the city, you have to hold people accountable to keep their property clean," Yennie said.

Hartford Mayor Pedro Segarra said a good opportunity for improvement is to propose capital projects that could be funded by the city's Participatory Budgeting Program. The program allows residents to provide input and proposals as the city decides how to spend spend $1.2 million.

"The process is to have the residents make decisions about where the money should be spent, so whatever the community decides, where their priorities are, a portion of the money should be decided and put toward those projects," he said.