<![CDATA[NBC Connecticut - Connecticut Political News, NY and CT Politics, and More]]> Copyright 2014 http://www.nbcconnecticut.com/news/politics http://media.nbcbayarea.com/designimages/NBC_Connecticut.png NBC Connecticut http://www.nbcconnecticut.com en-us Sun, 23 Nov 2014 07:24:00 -0500 Sun, 23 Nov 2014 07:24:00 -0500 NBC Owned Television Stations <![CDATA[Budget Analysts: Connecticut Faces Deficits in Billions]]> Fri, 21 Nov 2014 22:10:55 -0500 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/connecticut+state+capitol+building.jpg

According to the non-partisan Office of Fiscal Analysis, the budget shortfall Connecticut faces in the short term of $100 million pales in comparison to what awaits the state over the next three fiscal years.

Alan Calandro, who manages the Office of Fiscal Analysis, told members of the Appropriations Committee of the General Assembly that the state faces a deficit of $1.3 billion  in 2016, $1.4 billion in 2017 and $1.7 billion in 2018.

Republicans accuse Democrats of trying to downplay the numbers during the heated 2014 campaign season.

“We’re no further along today than we were four years ago before the tax increase and that’s a problem," said Republican State Rep. Themis Klarides, the House minority leader-elect.

Republicans are now calling for a special session of the General Assembly to address future deficits, especially in light of the $54 million in cuts ordered by the Office of Policy and Management on Thursday.

Democrats insist the problem isn't as bad as Republicans make it out to be, going with the governor's line that the state has a spending issue with a small fraction of a $20 billion budget.

“It’s a deficit. It’s a small deficit," said Democratic State Sen. Beth Bye, of West Hartford, who chairs the Appropriations Committee. "We’d rather not have it but we’re going to mitigate it and end the year with a balanced budget.”

Both Bye and Klarides gave the governor credit for making difficult budget decisions but that's where many of the similarities end.

Bye said a special session is nothing more than rhetoric coming from the minority party.

“I mean if you look back two years or four years at this very same meeting, our situation was much worse, much worse," Bye said. "So I think that’s political."

The last time lawmakers met outside of the regular session to discuss budget issues was back in December 2012.

<![CDATA[Worries Persist Over Cuts to Social Services]]> Fri, 21 Nov 2014 22:03:43 -0500 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/StateBudgetShortPic00000000.jpg

With the announcement of more $50 million in state agency budget cuts, advocates for at-risk populations say some of the cuts to the social safety net are ambiguous.

“There’s not a lot of detail but there is a lot of money that would be in our bailiwick in terms of services" said Morna Murray, CEO of the Connecticut Community Providers Association.

Of the more than $54 million in cuts, roughly $11 million affects youth, mental health, and community services.

Murray also pointed out that the timing of the cuts coincided with a new report out that detailed the mental health and education background of Adam Lanza, the murderer in the Sandy Hook massacre in 2012.

"We know how critical these services are," Murray said.

More than $9 million was cut from the Department of Children and Families alone, according to the list of rescissions released by the state Thursday.

Democrats and Republicans, who heard from the Office of Fiscal Analysis and the Office of Policy and Management on the state's budget woes, voiced concerns about cuts to programs that provide critical public programs.

“No cuts to human services are pleasant cuts, and I have been genuinely concerned about the mental health system for adolescents and about people with developmental disabilities, so we’re asking questions here and behind the scenes to make sure that we provide the care that people need,” said Democratic State Sen. Beth Bye, of West Hartford, who chairs the Appropriations Committee said.

“Our goal and our priority is to make sure core populations are taken care of with the things they need but at this point in time we just have to sit down and figure out where cuts can be made," said Republican State Rep. Themis Klarides, of Derby, who was recently elected by the GOP caucus as the Minority Leader-elect. "You know maybe those cuts could have been made somewhere else that didn’t affect certain populations.”

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com]]>
<![CDATA[Advocates Await Obama's Immigration Announcement]]> Thu, 20 Nov 2014 19:37:19 -0500 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/new+haven+immigration+rally.JPG

The Latino and Hispanic community in Connecticut is a very active and politically influential group, which is why many in the state will be glued to President Barack Obama's immigration announcement tonight.

“It’s really surreal," said Sandra Trevino, executive director of the Latino advocacy group Junta for Progressive Action. "It’s really a true mix of emotions that our president, in just a few hours, will be making this huge announcement.”

Junta, based in New Haven, provides an array of services for the Latino community. Trevino said there are more benefits than many realize to the president signing executive orders that could potentially lead to millions of undocumented immigrants being allowed to stay in the country.

"it’s going to allow individuals to have work permits. It’s going to encourage people to report more on crime, and most of all, it’s going to stop tearing families apart which it has been doing for years,” Trevino said.

The Obama administration hasn't provided precise details or numbers of immigrants that could be affected but has hinted that the moves won't be insignificant.

“Beef up security at the border, make some prioritization of deportations on the interior focused on felons and not on breaking families, and then some new accountability for folks who are here and have been here undocumented," David Simas, an assistant to the president, told NBC News on Thursday.

Trevino said she's fears some people who have been in the country for years and have contributed for decades could be left out in the cold on any executive action.

"My concern is that there are going to be individuals who have been here for decades that might be left out if the rumors that are going around is that it will only impact individuals that have children,” Trevino said.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com]]>
<![CDATA[State Makes $54.6M in Cuts to Combat Budget Gap]]> Thu, 20 Nov 2014 23:39:20 -0500 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/111714statebudgetdeficitj00000000.jpg

State officials have announced $54.6 million in rescissions from state agencies in response to Connecticut's projected $100 million budget gap.

The state is calling for $47.8 million in rescissions for executive branch agencies, $0.9 million for the legislative branch and $6 million for the judicial branch, state officials said.

Some of the largest cuts include $9.2 million affecting the Department of Children and Families, $5.5 million for the Department of Developmental Services, $4.7 million for the state comptroller and nearly $4 million for education, according to the reductions list.

It's the second step the governor's office has taken to balance the budget. Last week, OPM Secretary Benjamin Barnes asked state agencies to minimize spending and reduce hiring in an effort to save money.

“As the Governor has promised, we are managing and administering the budget so that there will be no deficit. These rescissions are painful for some, but tough decisions are necessary to keep the state on firm fiscal footing. State government will live within its means, and we will not raise taxes,” Barnes said in a statement Thursday.

Barnes will meet with the General Assembly's Appropriations and Finance, Revenue and Bonding committees on Friday to go over budget projections for the next three years.

Malloy told reporters Wednesday that the projected shortfall must be kept in perspective and reminded residents that the state's budget totals $20 billion.

Republicans, however, $100 million may seem to be a small piece of the pie in terms of the state's overall spending plan, but would hit home for taxpayers.

"If they have bipartisan solutions they wish to propose, I welcome their participation," Barnes said.

Incoming State Senate Minority Leader Len Fasano and Appropriations Committee member State Sen. Rob Kane criticized the rescissions Thursday, accusing the OPM of failing "to recognize the true severity of budget shortfalls."

“Today we face a significant deficit. And tomorrow that deficit will become staggering. Our budget crisis is also a borrowing crisis and these issues are compounding fast. The solution to these mounting problems does not lie in one time cuts. We need to identify a comprehensive solution by working across the aisle. The longer we wait to make these changes and alter our approach, the deeper the cuts will have to be,” Fasano said in a statement.

Economist Fred Carstensen, who directs the Connecticut Center for Economic Analysis, called the state's budget issues minor and warned of more issues down the road as future deficits are projected.

Carstensen said the state must continue investing in transportation and similar infrastructure, an arena where Connecticut can make major gains in economic development.

"Those expenditures would represent the biggest economic impact for the state, both in terms of immediate job creation – which generates also more revenue for the state – and then also addresses the fact that we have very poor infrastructure in Connecticut," he said.

Carstensen said he remains concerned that the governor has yet to make good on his pledge earlier this year to hire 100 new engineers for the Department of Transportation.

"We're still short 215 people in transportation and that's not an insignificant number," he said.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com]]>
<![CDATA[City Council Race Ends in Tie]]> Thu, 20 Nov 2014 12:25:46 -0500 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/Padilla-McCann-Chula-Vista2.jpg

The razor-thin race for a Chula Vista City Council seat has ended in a tie, two weeks after Election Day, San Diego County officials say.

John McCann and Steve Padilla each won 18,450 votes for the District 1 seat, according to Wednesday's last tally from the San Diego County Registrar of Voters. The registrar reports there aren't any other provisional ballots left to be counted that could break that tie.

Ultimately, it will be up to the city of Chula Vista to determine who takes the seat.

Padilla said his campaign is pleased with the results from the provisional ballots.

“We’re just focused on making sure every vote is counted,” Padilla said.

However, McCann told NBC 7 on Wednesday he believes what he called "dirty politics" played a role.

“We had over 900-point lead and every day it seems to continuously vanish. Obviously it raises some questions,” McCann told NBC 7.

The registrar's office will begin making sure all the votes are accurately counted ahead of the Dec. 2 deadline for certifying results.

While Chula Vista is be the second-largest city in San Diego County, the city council race came down to the narrowest of margins as the final 1,000 county-wide provisional ballots were counted Wednesday.

Check back for updates on this developing story.

<![CDATA[Malloy Speaks to Budget Shortfall]]> Wed, 19 Nov 2014 21:49:42 -0500 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/StateBudgetCutsPic00000000.jpg

Gov. Dan Malloy told reporters Wednesday that the projected $100 million budget gap needs to examined through a proper lens.

According to reports from the Office of Fiscal Analysis and the Office of Policy and Management, the state faces roughly $100 million in revenue shortfalls.

"The state budget is $20,000 million dollars and you’re asking me about $100 million dollars," Malloy said following a meeting of the Connecticut Bond Commission. "I think in that context, it's important."

Benjamin Barnes, secretary of the OPM, said proposed cuts could be expected by the end of the week.

He didn't say where the cuts may occur but did hint last week that he wanted to protect entitlement programs like Medicaid.

Republicans said the $100 million isn't just a small amount in the grand scheme of a huge state spending plan and that the news of the shortfall should be heard far and wide by taxpayers.

“Listen anything’s a big amount," said Republican State Sen. L. Scott Frantz, of Greenwich. "When you’re talking about increased deficits, you’ve got to talk about making weight in every single account and bring things under control.”

Malloy said he doesn't anticipate tax hikes in order to pay for the projected gap, a promise he made during his re-election campaign.

“We’ll make some minor adjustments in the range of one percent to five percent in some expenditure areas and in other areas we won’t make adjustments,” Malloy said.

The governor does have the authority to make what are known as rescissions, cuts of up to 5 percent across general spending at his discretion.

Republicans said they don't want that to happen and would rather collaborate on where to make spending cuts.

“I think the budgets are large enough that they’re really going to have to start getting serious about really figuring out other ways to enhance revenues, but more importantly, figure out a way to bring the cost of government, the cost of state government in Connecticut under control," said Frantz.

Malloy and Republicans do agree on one point: that some of the budget issues are outside of their control, since Washington hasn't provided some payments for Medicaid that the state depends on.

<![CDATA[State Investigates Hartford Voting Problems]]> Tue, 18 Nov 2014 20:16:49 -0500 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/111714htfdvoting00000000.jpg

The State Elections Enforcement Commission voted Tuesday to consider a recommendation from the secretary of the state, who filed a complaint over voting operations following an Election Day snafu in Hartford two weeks ago.

"Staff will move forward with that,” said Michael Brandi, the Executive Director of the SEEC. “It's a confidential process but we will move forward to complete the investigation and report it back to the commission for the commission to then determine whether any violations of election law have occurred."

The complaint – and resulting recommendation – comes after precincts in Hartford were unprepared for the polls to open at 6 a.m. Election Day, causing delays. Voters milled around in frustration while waiting for registration lists to arrive late from the office of the Registrars of Voters in Hartford.

Hartford Mayor Pedro Segarra said he welcomes the SEEC investigation.

"These were state elections and they have a legitimate interest in ensuring that they get to the bottom of the situation,” Segarra said.

In a statement released to NBC Connecticut last week, the Hartford Democratic Registrar of Voters apologized to voters and took responsibility for the failures on Election Day.

The Working Families Party Registrar, Urania Petit, also apologized. Both have remained in their positions despite some calls to resign.

The investigation into the Hartford registrars will begin immediately. It will take anywhere from three to six months to complete, but could be expedited.

"It's a priority case for us, so we will be committing the necessary resources to move through this process as quickly as we can," said Brandi. "But as with any investigation, it's very difficult to determine a time frame until you actually get into the documents and the details of the case.”

Segarra said he won't jump to conclusions about personnel decisions the investigation results are returned.

"I think at this point, the best that can happen is for folks that are disinterested in this to review the situation, to conduct the investigation, to gather all of the facts," Segarra said, "and then once they have a handle on exactly what happened, we can talk about what actions need to follow."

The Hartford City Council has launched an investigation of its own.

<![CDATA[Dems Won't Rule Out Tax Hike to Address Budget Woes]]> Mon, 17 Nov 2014 20:32:20 -0500 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/111714statebudgetdeficitj00000000.jpg

The state's Office of Fiscal Analysis and the Office of Policy and Management released a pair of reports over the weekend showing that the state could face as much as a $100 million budget deficit.

According to the OFA, the figure is $89 million, but the OPM, which is run by the governor’s budget manager, projects the shortfall at $99 million.

Democrats who control the legislature say a cautious approach to assessing the budget projections is best, reminding constituents that the current estimates are a small piece of a much bigger pie.

“That is a very small percentage of the overall budget,” said Democratic State Sen. Martin Looney, of New Haven. “These kinds of things have happened before.”

Gov. Dan Malloy said during the campaign that the state didn’t have a potential deficit on the horizon and added that even if one existed, he wouldn’t raise taxes to increase revenues.

State Sen. Looney, who is expected to be elected as the president pro tempore of the Connecticut State Senate, refused to rule out such a blanket promise.

"We're at the very beginning of the process and I think it's far too soon to say what we will do,” Looney said. "I think that we have not even begun the process at this point."

Republican State Sen. Len Fasano, of New Haven, said he thinks the Malloy administration has known about a possible shortfall for much longer than a few days.

"I think that they knew about it,” said Fasano. “I think they didn't want to speak about it before the election, although the governor was asked a number of times and he refused to say there was a deficit."

Last week, the Secretary of the Office of Policy and Management denied any allegation that the administration had advance knowledge of a shortfall. He said his agency’s report was always scheduled to come out after the Nov. 4 election.

Fasano said now is the time for Republicans and Democrats to work together to find solutions, considering the tight results from the election that saw the GOP make gains in both the House and Senate.

"We need to make some structural changes and we need to make them now so we avoid the deficit from getting larger in the future," Fasano said. "So we should be sitting down and not letting him do it by his executive authority, which he has a right to do. We should be sitting down as a unit and figuring out what's best to do for the state of Connecticut."

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com]]>
<![CDATA[State Faces $59 Million Budget Gap]]> Fri, 14 Nov 2014 19:26:12 -0500 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/StateBudgetShortPic00000000.jpg

The governor's budget chief told state agencies earlier in the week that they would have to watch their spending and face increased scrutiny over hiring in light of a $59-million shortfall.

“I see these as one-time problems that we will resolve in the coming year," said Benjamin Barnes, who oversees the Office of Policy and Management.

Republicans accused the governor and his administration of playing politics with budget figures. Barnes, on the other hand, said the report on the deficit only came to light Nov. 10, six days after the election.

"We tried to treat this in the most transparent way possible," Barnes said during an interview Friday.

He sent a memo to state department heads and financial officers Thursday, informing them of the report that was returned to him on Monday providing the bleak financial news.

"I'm not buying it," said Sen. Rob Kane, of Watertown. "We have to let the public know how the budget gets crafted."

Kane said he's not sure this kind of report could have swung the election in favor of Republican Tom Foley, but did say the public had a right to know before they cast their ballots.

The missing $59 million was supposed to come from Washington in the form of Medicaid grants.

When asked whether there was a way to work around the cuts without hurting other agencies, Barnes said Medicaid is an entitlement program "and the state only has so much control over where we can make changes" that would have a major financial impact.

State agencies will have to justify all future hires for the time being and explain why the department must hire or fill a position.

Kane said such new requirements shouldn't be necessary.

He said the state had more than enough information ahead of time to avoid scrambling during the beginning stages of the fiscal year.

“We did see this coming. We recognized that there are always deficiencies in state agencies. Right now, there’s $80 million in deficiencies, 40 of which is in DSS and most of that is in Medicaid," Kane said. "So you can see that coming. The writing is on the wall.”

The missing Medicaid dollars comprise a very small portion of Connecticut’s overall spending picture. The $59 million figure makes up one tenth of one percent of the state’s overall spending plan.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com]]>
<![CDATA[Hartford Committee Begins Probe into Problems at Polls]]> Fri, 14 Nov 2014 18:20:24 -0500 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/hartford+registrar+of+voters+2.jpg

Hartford’s newly appointed Committee of Inquiry held its first meeting Friday to probe Election Day problems that turned some voters away from city polls and caused major delays at others.

The committee is charged with the difficult task of sorting through what went wrong – namely, why voter registration lists were delivered late to nearly a dozen polling places around the city.

“Clearly, something went very wrong, so we want to get to the bottom of that and move swiftly to address it,” explained Hartford City Council President Shawn Wooden.

At the center of the probe is the Office of the Registrar of Voters and the three women who run it. While the registrars are a key component of the investigation, Wooden said that for now, the council’s current focus is on completing the investigation, not what will happen next.

The mayor, on the other hand, is calling on Democratic Registrar of Voters Olga Vasquez to resign.

"The Mayor feels she should resign, as there have been many issues within the Registrar of Voters office in the past that he has tried to correct but he also believes that replacing one individual will not fix the problem and that the entire system requires an overhaul," a spokesperson for Mayor Pedro Segarra's office said Friday.

Segarra's office did not offer specific comments with regards to the other two registrars.

"I continue to apologize to the voters It was a challenge we encountered. As this is under investigation, I have no further comments," Vasquez said in response.

Earlier this week, Working Families Party Registrar Urania Petit, also apologized for the snafu during an exclusive interview with NBC Connecticut.

"I feel like the people of Hartford deserve an apology and the people in the office have actually done something wrong," said Petit, who has served as city registrar since 1999. "It was an administrative error."

Wooden acknowledged the apology and commended her honesty Friday.

“To the extent someone is willing to be candid and forthright, and truly apologetic, I appreciate that,” said Wooden.

Wooden will serve as a non-voting member of the committee, which includes City Council Majority Leader Alex Aponte, Minority Leader Joel Cruz, Jr. and members Raul de Jesus, Cynthia Jennings and David McDonald.

Day Pitney, LLP and Shipman & Goodwin, LLP are also providing pro-bono legal counsel to the committee.

The committee is expected to complete its report by the end of December.

<![CDATA[Hartford Committee to Probe Problems at the Polls]]> Thu, 13 Nov 2014 00:27:52 -0500 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/hartford+registrar+of+voters.jpg

The Hartford City Council voted 8-1 on Wednesday to create a committee that will investigate the problems that caused delays at Hartford polls and sent voters home on Nov. 4.

"This is about getting to the facts and getting to them quickly," said Hartford City Council President Shawn Wooden.

Both the city council and the secretary of the state have announced their intentions to investigate what went wrong on Election Day.

The late delivery of voter registration forms caused major delays at a number of polling places around the city and sent some voters home. A judge extended voting hours at two Hartford precincts to compensate.

Now a five-member panel will probe the issue. Members of this Committee of Inquiry will hail from the city council and will take a hard look at Hartford's Registrar of Voters.

"This was a colossal failure, make no mistake about it, and now I'm hopeful... that us in City Hall and those at the Capital are ready to act now," Wooden said.

The council also approved a resolution aimed at restructuring the Registrar of Voters.

Registrar Urania Petit said in an exclusive interview with NBC Connecticut that she took responsibility for the issue and would welcome an investigation.

“I welcome the investigation," Petit said. "I think that they ought to have an investigation because I think that some good will come out of it, because this investigation is going to teach us what all was broken and how we fix it.”

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com]]>
<![CDATA[New Technology to Speed Up Election Returns]]> Wed, 12 Nov 2014 21:15:24 -0500 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/HartfordVotingMessPic00000000.jpg

Connecticut's secretary of the state said the recent election should be a distant memory when it comes to election returns – that the days of faxes, hand delivering results, and checking them one-by-one should disappear, thanks to new technology.

"It's archaic," Denise Merrill said during an interview in her office Wednesday.

Merrill said Connecticut residents will no longer have to wait a day to find out who won statewide elections.

The state spent about $350,000 on a new reporting system that will take results from the more than 700 precincts and send them digitally to the secretary of the state's office.

Gov. Dan Malloy was not the projected the winner in the race for governor against Republican Tom Foley until midday Wednesday, more than 36 hours after the polls closed in a race that held everyone's attention until the very end.

“I think that this has become an issue because we had two very close gubernatorial elections and that has generated a lot of interest in getting fast results," Merrill said. "But we do also have to look at the way it’s happening and it will not any longer be the way it has been.”

Merrill also advocated for a discussion about the potential elimination of party-affiliated registrars.

She said that with so many municipalities that handle different official jobs in different ways, there won't be an easy solution to the issue.

<![CDATA[Hartford Registrar Takes the Fall for Problems at Polls]]> Wed, 12 Nov 2014 20:38:51 -0500 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/hartford+registrar.jpg

In an exclusive interview with NBC Connecticut on Wednesday, one of the Hartford Registrars of Voters apologized over last week's Election Day snafu, saying she failed in her responsibility to voters.

“I feel like the people of Hartford deserve an apology and the people in the office have actually done something wrong," said Urania Petit, who has held the job since 1999. "It was an administrative error.”

Petit is one of the city's three registrars under the microscope after the late delivery of voter registration lists hampered voting at a number of city polls. A judge ruled to extend voting hours at two of the precincts as a result.

When asked if there was anything she would have done differently, Petit said she would have sent the logs of voters out to the precincts sooner.

"We could have sent the books out when they were available, but instead we waited until all of the books were available," Petit explained.

Petit said she was completely in the dark about the voting issues that occurred at some of the most high-profile precincts in the state.

The polling locations for Gov. Dan Malloy, Attorney General George Jepsen and Secretary of the State Denise Merrill all saw delays that turned away some voters.

Tonight the Hartford City Council voted 8-2 in favor of forming a committee to investigate the registrars' office and the problems that arose last Tuesday.

“I welcome the investigation," Petit said. "I think that they ought to have an investigation because I think that some good will come out of it, because this investigation is going to teach us what all was broken and how we fix it.”

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com]]>
<![CDATA[State Offers Help to Veterans Who Own Businesses]]> Tue, 11 Nov 2014 19:16:43 -0500 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/VETSBIZPIC111114.jpg

Members of Connecticut's congressional delegation joined Secretary of the State Denise Merrill and officials from the Department of Commerce to announce plans to help veterans who own businesses in Connecticut.

"We need to find these veterans and help them," said Anne Evans with the Department of Commerce.

The state has counted at least 250 veteran owned-and-operated businesses in Connecticut, well short of the number state officials estimate is actually out there.

"We think the number could be well into the thousands," Evans explained.

Part of the plan is to connect veterans with the kinds of loans and small business assistance for which they're eligible.

Officials with the Small Business Administration said they doled out $11 million in loan help to companies owned and run by veterans last year alone. They're looking to increase that figure.

"It’s the least we can do with our office to help veterans, trying to succeed in business with special services just for them so these services will be tailor-made to veteran owned businesses,” Secretary of the State Denise Merrill told the crowd.

U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal said just the knowledge of whether a business is owned by someone who served is a big deal for consumers, not just loans.

"We no longer live in a world where if you build it they will come," Blumenthal said. "People have to be informed and brought into participation."

<![CDATA[Malloy Praises President's Attorney General Pick]]> Sat, 08 Nov 2014 11:55:19 -0500 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/loretta+lynch.jpg

President Barack Obama nominated a New York federal prosecutor to replace Eric Holder as United States Attorney General and Connecticut's governor voiced support for his pick.

If the U.S. Senate confirms Loretta Lynch, U.S. attorney for New York's Eastern District, she will become the first black woman to head the country's Justice Department.

Gov. Dannel P. Malloy, who was re-elected last week to a second term in a close race with Tom Foley, said that Connecticut has worked closely with the Justice Department to lower crime in the state and praised the president's selection.

“Loretta Lynch is a very well-respected prosecutor not only in the State of New York, but throughout the country, and I congratulate her on her nomination to become our nation’s top law enforcement official," Malloy said in a statement. "Over the last couple of years in Connecticut, my administration, in cooperation with our state’s law enforcement community, has worked closely with the U.S. Justice Department in our efforts to reduce violent crime – particularly when it comes to gun-related crimes within our urban areas."

He said that Connecticut has seen lower crime rates as a result, but stressed there is more work to be done.

"And our efforts have been working, showing a reduction in violent crime that has been more than double the national average over the last year," Malloy said. "But we cannot stop there. I am confident that U.S. Attorney Lynch has the expertise to lead the Justice Department, and I look forward to working as a partner with her to continue these efforts in our state.”

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[2015 New London Mayor's Race Already Taking Shape]]> Thu, 06 Nov 2014 20:17:00 -0500 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/new+london+finizio+passero.jpg

Seven months ago, New London’s first ever elected mayor told the city council that he had decided not to seek a second term.

Members of the city council thought he wasn’t serious. At the time, Councilor Anthony Nolan told the The Day of New London, “At first we thought it was an April Fool’s Joke.”

Seven months later, the joke is apparently on the city council, as Mayor Daryl Finizio announced that he would, in fact, seek a second term in office.

“These plans are going to take three to five more years to complete and I feel that since I started them I should stick around to finish the job,” Finizio said during an interview Thursday.

The plans he’s talking about have to do with six ballot measures that voters approved on Election Day earlier in the week. They included a $168 million bond issue and the plan to the city’s school system the first in the state to feature only magnet schools.

In addition to wanting to shepherd New London through the new ventures, Finizio said he’s responsible for the city getting its fiscal house in order.

“I balanced the budget two years in a row and the budget that was adopted on Tuesday will be balanced this year as well,” Finizio said. "That’s three years of balanced budgets after decades of deficit spending that brought our city to the fiscal brink.”

Just hours after Finizio made his intentions clear, he already had competition from within his own part.

Democrat Michael Passero, who has sat on the New London City Council since 2008, announced his intention to seek the city’s highest office for the second time.

Four years ago, Passero announced his plans to run for mayor but later withdrew his name from consideration.

“They’re ready for a change in leadership,” Passero said during his campaign kickoff event at Muddy Waters Cafe in downtown New London. “They’re ready for some new energy. I’ve been here my whole life. I think I have the vision, the experience and the leadership to get this done.”

Passero said he wants to bring back into the fold people who helped to improve the city over the years.

“I have a capacity to build coalitions. I have a capacity to build consensus. There’s too much talent in this city that’s been marginalized, that’s been pushed to the sidelines. It’s waiting on the sidelines; it’s waiting to get into the game. I’m prepared to get the momentum going that we had before we changed governments,” Passero said.

Finizio was quick to dismiss the notion of Passero's candidacy, saying that he’s part of the old guard of New London politicians who merely worked to stay in their positions of power rather than improve the city.

“The leadership that I think is being offered by the opposition is leadership that was in place in this city when we ran record deficits, when my opponent voted for budgets that were terribly unbalanced,” Finizio said.

Passero said he wouldn’t categorize Finizio as an enemy. After all, he was happy with his election three years ago. He said he thinks it’s time for a fresh face to run city hall.

“Quite frankly, I never felt as strong an adversarial relationship as he did because I think in many ways, he was creating it," Passero said, "and I’ve been a hundred percent behind the major initiatives that this community is supporting because it’s the community that’s supporting these efforts.”

The race for mayor of New London started in November 2014, one year before any ballots will be cast.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com]]>
<![CDATA[Republicans Make Gains in Connecticut House]]> Thu, 06 Nov 2014 19:56:06 -0500 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/6PGOPPIC00000000.jpg

Lost among the commotion of another very competitive race for governor in Connecticut was the fact that Republicans attained their highest number of seats in 20 years in the Connecticut House.

"I think it's a sea change," said State Rep. Larry Cafero, of Norwalk, the Republicans' outgoing minority leader.

Some of the gains came in southern Connecticut, where Republicans outside New Haven gave gubernatorial candidate Tom Foley consistent support.

The balance of power in the Connecticut House shifted from 97 Democrats and 57 Republicans to 87 Democrats and 67 Republicans on Election Day.

Even with the shift, House Speaker Brendan Sharkey told reporters that he doesn't think the dynamic will change much inside the House chamber, where he said working with the other party is the norm.

"More than 95 percent of the bills we do are done on a bipartisan basis so I think it's important always to listen to what the public are telling us," Sharkey said.

Cafero said the gains shouldn't be viewed as the Connecticut microcosm of the GOP wave that swept across the U.S. Senate on Tuesday, but said he thinks it will affect how policy is crafted before it reaches the House floor.

“Now they have to count every vote because it’s that close, so people are going to think a lot harder about their votes," Cafero said. "I think bills are going to be scrutinized a lot more. I think it’s a huge, huge, political difference for the state of Connecticut.”

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com]]>
<![CDATA[Weary Rivals in SoCal Race Hopeful]]> Thu, 06 Nov 2014 11:15:14 -0500 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/DeMaio-Peters-June-Primary.jpg

The long, divisive road to the 52nd Congressional District seat stretches on for its two weary candidates, incumbent U.S. Rep. Scott Peters and former San Diego city councilman Carl DeMaio, as officials prepare Thursday to start counting around 46,000 still-uncounted ballots.

Exhausted by a late election night that left DeMaio leading by just 752 votes, both candidates are trying to put a positive spin on the numbers.

“This is a historically bad night for Democrats, turnout historically low, and the fact that we're even close is a miracle. I think we're going to win this thing," Peters said at a news conference Wednesday evening.

The initial surge of results had DeMaio in the lead, but as the late ballots came in Tuesday night, the trend was in favor of Peters.

But DeMaio was just as confident that his campaign will come out on top.

“I believe when all votes are counted, we will prevail, and I will have the honor of being San Diego’s voice in the U.S. Congress,” he said at a Wednesday morning news conference.

The San Diego County Registrar of Voters says there were 36,000 mail-in ballots and 10,000 provisional ballots from the 52nd District to be counted, and all were sorted Wednesday.

On Thursday, the counting starts on those 46,000 ballots. Both candidates are sending representatives to make sure each vote is counted correctly.

The registrar is expected to release more numbers Thursday evening, and a final winner should be announced Monday.

But even after the ballots were cast, the biting comments remained.

When asked if he is prepared for a recount in the event of a very close final tally, DeMaio replied, “After what Mr. Peters has done in this campaign, I wouldn’t be surprised by anything.”

Peters’ response later in the day: “I think the campaign's over now. We can get past the hard feelings, stop whining. You know, let's just count the votes."

With nothing to do but wait, both candidates had time to reflect on their contentious campaigns and their plans for the future.

DeMaio will be hopping a plane to Washington, D.C., next week to attend the Congressional freshman orientation.

“What I emphasized last night was that my candidacy hopefully is the beginning of the Republican Party becoming more inclusive, of us getting past labels and putting people in boxes,” the gay candidate said.

While DeMaio zeroed in on reforming his own party, Peters said his focus will be reaching across the aisle in the now Republican-led Congress.

"Well the middle is my territory. I don't think there's enough of us who want to be in the middle,” he said. “I think one of the problems with Congress is it's so polarized and what I offer is a promise that I will always work with anybody."

Voters will continue to watch the results of the race closely, but the end of election season brings one thing both sides can be thankful for: no more political ads.

<![CDATA[Tim Herbst Concedes Treasurer's Race to Denise Nappier]]> Wed, 05 Nov 2014 17:24:08 -0500 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/nappier_herbst.jpg

State Treasurer Denise Nappier announced her re-election in an email to supporters Wednesday afternoon and Republican challenger Tim Herbst said during a news conference that he had conceded.

"Yesterday's election was a hard-fought battle on so many fronts, and the real victory belongs to the Connecticut voters who exercised their right and privilege to vote," Nappier said in a statement Wednesday. "I am deeply grateful to the people of our state for their support, and for the incredible energy of so many volunteers who worked hard to get out the vote."

Recent numbers show the candidates neck and neck, with the Democratic incumbent leading by a mere 2,000 votes.

"I called Treasurer Nappier to offer my congratulations on a hard-fought campaign and to offer my concession, and I wish her every success in the next four years as our state treasurer," Herbst said Wednesday.

"I am proud of the campaign we waged," he added. "I am proud of the issues we raised and more imporantly, I am humbled by the tens of thousands of people that I go t to meet."

Herbst put his arms around his campaign volunteers and thanked them for their hard work and support, calling them "the best campaign team in the state of Connecticut."

"Even though the ball did not bounce our way last night in to this morning, here's the good news: I still lead the best town in America," Herbst said, of Trumbull, where he serves as First Selectman. "Even though this campaign is over, I'm looking forward to what the future may hold."

Nappier, whose mother died over the weekend, did not make a public appearance. She will begin serving her fifth term as state treasurer in January.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com
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<![CDATA[Secretary of the State Denise Merrill Wins Re-Election]]> Wed, 05 Nov 2014 15:35:10 -0500 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/denise+merrill.jpg

Secretary of the State Denise Merrill will serve another term.

"I can say with confidence that I have won re-election," the Democratic incumbent said in an email to supporters Wednesday afternoon. "I am honored that the people of Connecticut have chosen me to serve for another four years and I will continue working everyday on behalf of the voters and businesses in our great state."

Republican challenger Peter Lumaj called Merrill to concede around 2:45 p.m. Wednesday, according to a press release from his campaign.

"We have worked incredibly hard on this campaign over the past 20 months, but unfortunately the  numbers for a win just don't add up," Lumaj said in a statement Wednesday, extending his congratulations to Merrill "on her hard fought victory."

The latest numbers show Merill pulling about 50 percent of the vote to Lumaj's 47 percent. Third-party candidate Michael DeRosa is drawing 2 percent.

Lumaj said he hopes the two can work side-by-side "to return integrity to the process."

"We need to examine Connecticut's election results, protocols and safeguards to ensure that hte mess that happened with our election yesterday never happens again," he said, referring to snafus in Hartford that delayed some voters and sent others home.

Merrill has already said her office will file a complaint with the State Elections Enforcement Commission asking for an investigation into the Hartford debacle.

Full election results are available here.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com
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<![CDATA[Hartford to Investigate Voting Problems, "Restructure" Registrar]]> Wed, 05 Nov 2014 18:15:06 -0500 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/hartford+registrar+of+voters+2.jpg

After confusion and delays hampered voting in Hartford, the mayor and city council president are proposing policy changes to prevent a similar snafu from happening again.

Hartford Mayor Pedro Segarra and City Council President Shawn Wooden submitted two resolutions to the City Council on Wednesday.

The first calls for a “committee of inquiry” to investigate yesterday’s polling problems, which affected at least 10 city precincts and prompted extended voting hours at two of them.

The second resolution calls on the city’s Operations, Management, Budget and Legislative Committee to “restructure the office of the Hartford Registrar of Voters,” which now comprises a Democrat, Republican and member of the Working Families Party.

“Given the scale of the problems on Election Day yesterday, there is no excuse not to move ahead with what we tried to do in the past which is to restructure the Registrar of Voters,” Segarra said in a statement Wednesday. “It is unacceptable that in 2014, residents cannot cast their ballots in time and that on the day after an election numbers are still not being reported. Council and I will work in concert to make sure we get to the bottom of what happened and prevent this from ever happening again.”

The Hartford City Council will take a look at the resolutions during Monday's meeting. A public meeting will also take place in the coming weeks. Segarra's office said lawmakers will review the proposed changes and discuss state law will need to be altered.

Hartford lawmakers aren't the only ones taking a hard look at yesterday's blunder. Newly re-elected Secretary of the State Denise Merrill announced her intent to file a complaint with the State Elections Enforcement Commission on Tuesday night.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com]]>
<![CDATA[Esty Re-elected in Fifth District]]> Wed, 05 Nov 2014 07:19:57 -0500 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/elizabeth+esty_722_406.jpg

U.S. Rep. Elizabeth Esty has been elected to a second term in Congress.

She fought a tough battle against Republican Mark Greenberg in the 5th District and Greenberg called Esty around 10 p.m. to concede.

"I wish him well. I congratulate him, it was a hard-fought race. He's been running a long time, he's deeply committed to this country."

In an email to supporters, Greenberg said he will stay involved, but not as a candidate in the future.

"While my days running for office are over, I will always and forever be an American interested in our country's future, our state's future, and our children's future," he said in the email.

Photo Credit: NBC Connecticut]]>
<![CDATA[Merrill to File Complaint Over Hartford Polling Problems]]> Tue, 04 Nov 2014 22:06:50 -0500 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/late+voting+hartford.jpg

After a Hartford judge extended voting hours at two city polling places over early morning snafus, the Secretary of the State's office announced plans to file a complaint with the State Elections Enforcement Commission.

"These were two of the most egregious where people were sent away without any chance to vote," Gov. Dan Malloy said of Districts 1 and 6, which collected ballots through 8:30 p.m. Tuesday. "I'm glad the judge did what he did. I think we've used teh hours that have intervened to use this as a way to drive people back to the polls."

Staff Attorney Ted Bromley notified the SEEC of the impending complaint in an email Tuesday, citing suspected election law violations.

"The situation in Hartford this morning was absolutely unacceptable. Voters in Connecticut rightly expect that when they go to their polling place they should be able to vote without disruption," Secretary of the State Denise Merrill said in a statement Tuesday evening, adding that her office plans to "absolutely invstigate why Hartford was not prepared for Election Day."

"Those found responsible will be held accountable," Merrill said.

Judge Carl Schuman said he decied to extend hours at the two precincts because "it was the ruling of electoral officials, either monitors or registrars, that denied people the opportunity to vote in an alternative fashion when the voting lists were not ready at 6 a.m."

Although at least 10 of the city's 24 polling places were affected by late delivery of registration lists, Schuman said extended voting was not warranted at the eight other locations because poll moderators offered "alternatives," such as checking identification and allowing voters to write their names and addresses on blank sheets of paper.

"Preparing voter lists, printing them out, and distributing them to polling places before the polls open at 6:00 a.m. on Election Day is essential to running an orderly election. Hartford has done this process many times," Merrill said.

"It is unconscionable to our office that the steps were not taken in advance of voters arriving at the polling places this morning, leading some voters to be turned away from the polls and others to leave in frustration. This should never happen in Connecticut or anywhere," she added.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com
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<![CDATA[Rep. DeLauro Wins 13th Term in Conn.]]> Tue, 04 Nov 2014 21:20:52 -0500 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/Rosa+DeLauro.jpg

Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro has easily won a 13th term representing a heavily Democratic swath of southern Connecticut.

DeLauro defeated Republican James Brown, a high school teacher from Stratford. On the campaign trail, he labeled DeLauro a "rubber stamp" for President Barack Obama and called for establishing term limits for Congress members.

DeLauro was first elected to the U.S. House in 1990. She represents the 3rd Congressional District, which includes the cities of New Haven and Middletown.

DeLauro has emphasized her support for the full implementation of the 2010 health care reform bill signed by Obama and her efforts to protect social programs. She also has pushed for equal pay for women and access to paid sick days for all employees.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Foley Concedes Governor's Race to Malloy]]> Wed, 05 Nov 2014 19:42:47 -0500 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/malloy+foley+election+night.jpg

Gov. Dannel Malloy has won re-election in a bitter race against Republican challenger Tom Foley, who conceded defeat on Wednesday in a reprise of his narrow loss to the Connecticut governor four years ago.

"All right, we've got work to do," Malloy said Wednesday during a post-election news conference at the State Capitol in Hartford. "Elections are about the future. ... I am revved up for the next four years."

Malloy said his priorities include building a stronger economy, creating jobs and following through will his educational initiatives. The governor pledged to have a full legislative agenda ready to go by Jan. 7, the day his second term will officially begin.

Foley's concession came hours after Malloy claimed victory in a speech to supporters around midnight Wednesday. Minutes later, Foley took the stage in Greenwich to give what he said might have been a concession speech had Malloy given him the opportunity to concede.

“I regret that I will not be able to deliver the change that we have dreamed about and feel would be in the best interest of our great state," Foley said early Wednesday morning.

He stood alongside Somers and waved to the crowd, who chanted his name.

"We have forecasted the towns and the parts of the cities that haven't yet reported, and it looks to me that if our projections are right, we've probably not won this race, but we're not going to make that final decision until we've confirmed all the numbers," Foley said.

Malloy said Foley called him Wednesday to officially concede after poring over the numbers. Foley also thanked his supporters in a letter posted to his Web site Wednesday afternoon.

"Thank you for your support with my campaign for governor. We came very close. Our appeal for change in Connecticut – pro-growth policies including lower taxes, more responsible spending, and more support for job creators – was endorsed by more than 48% of Connecticut voters. Governor Malloy won this election with fewer votes than we won in 2010," Foley wrote.

The two candidates traded the lead throughout Election Day. As of Wednesday afternoon, the numbers showed Malloy pulling a three-point lead.

In a news conference Wednesday, the governor said he never expected to sweep 100 percent of the vote. 

"We're all Connecticut," Malloy said. "It's time to put our differences aside."

It's the second time Malloy and Foley have gone head to head. When the two last did battle in 2010 race, voting problems in Bridgeport prompted extended polling hours and days of recounts before Foley conceded to Malloy.

Unaffiliated candidate Joe Visconti suspended his campaign and endorsed Foley during a surprise announcement on Sunday, although his name remained on the ballot. Visconti has garnered about 1 percent of the vote as of Wednesday morning.

Full election results are available here.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com
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<![CDATA[Naugatuck Voters Receive 2012 Presidential Ballots]]> Tue, 04 Nov 2014 20:32:04 -0500 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/naugatuck+2012+ballot.jpg

A few voters in Naugatuck were surprised to see names like "Barack Obama" and "Linda McMahon" on their ballots Tuesday.

According to a poll moderator, three voters mistakenly received 2012 presidential election ballots as the polling station was opening at Maple Hill Elementary School.

Poll moderator Chris Kuczenski said it didn't take long to catch the error and swap in the correct ballots.

"Not one person cast a vote" using an incorrect ballot, according to Kuczenski, who added that "the ballot would not have gone through the machine."

Kuczenski said it appears two packages of 2012 ballots were not properly recycled and were left in the box where ballots are stored.

She said that in the future, poll workers will arrive 15 minutes earlier to double check the ballots and voters will be kept out until the doors open.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com]]>
<![CDATA[Would-Be New Haven Voters Out of Time to Cast Ballots]]> Wed, 05 Nov 2014 01:28:05 -0500 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/new+haven+same+day+registration.jpg

About 100 would-be voters waiting in line for same-day registration at New Haven City Hall were turned away when the polls closed.

With half an hour left to vote, city officials warned that voters who didn't make it through the registration doors by 8 p.m. may not have the chance to cast their ballots.

Many of those who waited in line Tuesday night are students at nearby Yale University and ended up waiting two and a half hours in vain.

"I'm a little frustrated that time has the ability to disenfranchise me. It's a little ridiculous," said Jake Faber. "We're just so humans, so as long as it's Election Day, we should be able to vote."

Officials traced the line of voters, handing out registration cards in an effort to expedite the process. Volunteers passed out water bottles, apples and sandwiches, and the Yale University men's and women's a cappella groups performed to help pass the time.

Voting in Connecticut has not been a flawless process today. A Hartford judge ruled to extend hours at two polling stations in the city after late delivery of voter registration lists held up ballot casting in the city.

Wolcott also experienced a brief ballot shortage, and voters at one Naugatuck precinct were handed ballots from the 2012 presidential election.

"It was worth it. Exercise your Democratic right. It's OK if it takes a while, but it's an important thing to do," said Yale sophomore Caroline Kuritzkes. "I feel accomplished."

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com]]>
<![CDATA[$21M Berlin Police Station Vote Brings Big Numbers to Poll]]> Tue, 04 Nov 2014 22:13:35 -0500 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/Voting+at+Berlin+Senior+Center+1200.jpg

Voters in Berlin have decided against authorizing $21 million in bonds to build a new police headquarters.

The Berlin Police Department posted on its Facebook page Tuesday night that residents voted down the referendum 3,445 to 2,118.

It was a vote that brought many to the polls.

Ten minutes before the polls opened at 6 a.m., at least 20 people had gathered outside the Berlin Senior Center, waiting to cast their ballots. 

By noon, turnout was shaping up to be as heavy as it usually is for a presidential election, according to the polling station moderator.
“I think it’s a big issue, really,” said Berlin resident Jean Letendre, who hadn’t yet made up her mind. “It’s going to take some time.”
Berlin police have been headquartered in the basement of the town hall for 40 years. With more than double the officers now, the Berlin Town Council voted this summer in favor of a new police station.

Opponents got the issue onto the ballot. Their signs read: “$21,000,000.00, Vote No.” 

Supporters' signs read: “Keep Berlin Safe, Vote Yes.”
Three years ago, voters overwhelmingly approved a $70 million bond issue for Berlin High School after an $83 million plan failed at the polls the year before.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com]]>
<![CDATA[WATCH: Tot Wants to Vote ]]> Wed, 05 Nov 2014 08:35:20 -0500 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/195*120/Xavier+cries+p1.jpg

Xavier is only 3 years old.

He cannot legally vote for another 15 years. 

But Xavier is passionate about the democratic process. 

The tyke went with his mom, Erica Hallman Nagy to vote this morning near Grande Reserve Elementary in Yorkville, Illinois, and was visibly upset over the fact that he can't cast a ballot -- or get one of those stickers.

Just when it seems like Xavier is coming to grips with his lack of a role in choosing his elected officials, his mom drops a bombshell. 

"Did you know there's people out there who can vote that just don't?" she says.

Information about derelict voters is too much for Xavier to handle, and the kid loses it. 

The moral of this story: Go vote -- it's important and you get stickers. 

<![CDATA[Obama, Biden Give Final Push in CT Governor's Race]]> Wed, 05 Nov 2014 08:20:16 -0500 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/obama+biden2.JPG

The White House has eyes on the Connecticut gubernatorial race between incumbent Democratic Gov. Dannel P. Malloy and Republican challenger Tom Foley. Both the president and vice president gave phone interviews on Connecticut radio stations Tuesday about the race and encouraged people to vote.

"Turnout's high across Connecticut," President Barack Obama said on "The Colin McEnroe Show "on WNPR on the afternoon of Election Day. "It's going to be a close election."

After visiting Bridgeport to stump for Malloy at a campaign event at Central High School in Bridgeport on Sunday, Obama continued to rally support for the governor in his interview with McEnroe.

Obama said that Malloy "deserves four more years" and that "Dan's the guy" for people who care about issues like college education, increased education funding and working families.

Vice President Joe Biden also took the opportunity to throw support behind Malloy in an interview on Chaz & AJ's morning show on 99.1 PLR, right before Foley gave an interview with the hosts.

“You know it is a big deal. There’s a lot of people in your state...84,000 people right now who didn’t have Medicaid coverage, women and children mostly now have it because of the president and because Malloy had the guts to say he’s going to go out there and say he’s going to expand health care," Biden told Chaz & AJ. “Dan Malloy’s out there pushing for a minimum wage. You’ve got 20 million people working 40 hours a week out there…and they’re living in poverty.”

But most of all, Obama and Biden encouraged people to go out and vote in Connecticut and in other elections nationwide.

"Do not give away your power. Do not buy into the idea that it doesn’t make a difference. It really does," Obama said in his interview with McEnroe.

Obama told McEnroe that about a dozen or so gubernatorial races in the country are tied in the polls, which he said "probably speaks to the fact that voters are frustrated with government... The polarization has gotten worse." He emphasized the message he said he sought to spread in Bridgeport that  "that cynicism is something we've got to fight against" and encouraged people to vote to get their views represented. 

Biden told Chaz & AJ that while other states have made voting more restrictive, Connecticut is not one of those states and spoke to the importance of representing the middle class on a national and local level.

“There’s a whole lot at stake. The country’s really poised to do some great things relative to the rest of the world," Biden said. "The economy’s coming back. We just have to deal the middle class back into this. The middle class is getting clobbered.”

Regarding reported voting problems in Hartford Tuesday morning, Obama stressed the importance of making voting "as easy as possible" in his WNPR interview.

Hartford Superior Court began hearing a complaint Malloy's campaign filed to extend voting hours Tuesday afternoon after several issues from delays to missing voter registration books.

On Monday, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) attended a campaign event to rally support for Foley.

Just a day before that, unaffiliated candidate Joe Visconti announced he was suspending his campaign at a Brookfield Republican Town Committee event and asked his supporters to vote for Foley. Visconti's name remains on the ballot.

The polls are scheduled to remain open until 8 p.m. unless the Malloy campaigns complaint results in extended voting hours.

Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Brief Ballot Shortage in Wolcott]]> Wed, 05 Nov 2014 06:27:27 -0500 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/election_day-jpeg-0ac21_4cf6cee44316fe68a2c606be136bca61.nbcnews-fp-1680-600.jpg

In addition to polling problems in Hartford, which caused many if not all locations to open an hour late, the Tyrrell Middle School polling site in Wolcott ran low on ballots for a brief time Tuesday.

Wolcott Republican Registrar Pat Najarian said voter turnout was bigger than expected this morning, with 300 voters casting ballots by about 8 a.m. About eight people left without voting to get to work, local officials said.

“We told them to just to wait for a minute or two because we were driving,” said Najarian, who brought additional ballots to the miwhen the count was down to 50.

The registrar’s office gave the middle school 500 extra ballots instead of 300 to account for the possibility of another rush and resupplied each of the three polling places.

Najarian apologized for the problem, which she said has never happened before, and said she would ask the polling places to call town hall when the ballot count diminishes to 100.

“I think it’s a good day. It’s a big turnout,” she said. “I think it’s great people are coming out.”

<![CDATA[CT's Last Dry Town No More: Vote Reverses Alcohol Ban]]> Tue, 04 Nov 2014 22:18:31 -0500 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/beer+bottles+generic+edit.jpg

Voters in the Connecticut town of Bridgewater made the historic decision Tuesday to end prohibition and reverse an alcohol ban in the state's last dry town.

Some residents have bars in their garages but the affluent town, which is home to actress Mia Farrow and a large weekend population of people from New York City, currently does not have a restaurant aside from a village store with a delicatessen.

The question arose last winter when Bridgewater faced the prospect of losing its only school and began searching for a way to breathe life back into the community.

Today, Bridgewater residents passsed the measure allowing alcohol sales at restaurants by a vote of 608 to 226, according to First Selectman Curtis Read.  Absentee ballots still needed to be counted Tuesday night.

The question on the ballot read:

"Shall the Town of Bridgewater adopt the following ordinance: The town of Bridgewater shall allow the sale of alcoholic liquor in all establishments operating under restaurant or café permits only between the hours of 11:00 a.m. and 11:00 p.m. Monday through Thursday; between the hours of 11:00 a.m. and 12:00 midnight on Friday and Saturday; between the hours of 12:00 noon and 10:00 p.m. on Sunday; and between the hours of 11:00 a.m. and 1:00 a.m. on New Year's Eve?"

Businesses with restaurant or café permits will now be allowed to sell liquor between 11 a.m. and 11 p.m., Monday to Thursday, 11 a.m. to midnight on Friday and Saturday and between noon and 10 p.m. on Sunday, as well as 11 a.m. to 1 a.m. on New Year's Eve.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Polls to Remain Open for Extra 30 Minutes for 2 Hartford Sites]]> Tue, 04 Nov 2014 17:38:04 -0500 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/Gov._Malloy_Addresses_Voting_Problems_in_Hartford_1200x675_352372291677.jpg

Two Hartford polling locations will remain open for half an hour.

Gov. Dannel Malloy’s campaign filed a complaint in Hartford Superior Court, asking that voting hours be extended for an hour in Hartford because of delays and other problems at polling locations in the city this morning and the hearing is underway.

The Malloy campaign is asking for polls to remain open until 9 p.m. rather than 8 p.m., but the judge decided polls will remain open until 8:30 p.m. at the L.W. Batchelder Elementary and United Methodist Church, at 571 Farmington Ave.

Malloy campaign officials said they filed for the extension to accommodate voters who could not to vote or were discouraged from voting this morning, the campaign said.

“Currently the polls in Hartford are working smoothly and voters can cast their ballots. We encourage everyone to vote,” the statement says.

A statement from Zak Sanders, the communications director of the state Republican Party, said the issues were resolved and there is plenty of time to vote today without an extension.

"We understand that any issues at Hartford polling locations were resolved by 7:00am this morning. There's still plenty of time left today to get to the polls and we encourage anyone who hasn't already done so to get out and vote before 8:00pm.," Sanders said.

State Republican Party chairman Jerry Labriola said earlier in the day that the party's legal team was reviewing the situation and added that they would "have a high level of concern" if Democrats seek to keep the polls open later.

"It's always the Democrats. It's always the cities. This is right out of the Democratic playbook on how they conduct elections," he said. "It would give the Democrats more opportunity for mischief. We certainly do not want a repeat of the fiasco in Bridgeport in 2010."

In 2010, there were voting problems in Bridgeport and days of recounts before Foley conceded to Malloy.

Prior to that election, Bridgeport city elections officials ordered only 21,000 ballots for a city with 69,000 registered voters and several precincts ran out of ballots. As lines grew in the Democratic stronghold, some voters gave up and left.

"Given this is the voting district of Dan Malloy and Denise Merrill, if there was ever a reason to clean house certainly this is one," Labriola said.

The full statement from the Malloy campaign:

Because of delays and other problems at Hartford polling locations, we are filing a complaint in Hartford Superior Court asking that voting hours be extended to accommodate voters who were unable to vote or were discouraged from voting this morning. Currently the polls in Hartford are working smoothly and voters can cast their ballots. We encourage everyone to vote.

<![CDATA[Polls Close Across Connecticut]]> Tue, 04 Nov 2014 22:24:47 -0500 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/hartford+polling+place.JPG

Polls have closed across the state and the waiting game has begun.

Every polling place in Connecticut except two locations in Hartford closed at 8 p.m. as scheduled. Those two exemptions were among several city polling stations hampered by missing registration lists early Tuesday and remained open for an extra half hour.

The extended hours applied to District 6, the Batchelder School at 757 New Britain Avenue, and District 1, the United Methodist Church at 571 Farmington Avenue.

All registered voters who arrived at those polling stations by 8:30 p.m. were permitted to vote, but the turnout during that extra half hour was unimpressive. Only nine voters cast valid ballots after 8 p.m. at the Batchelder School.

"It was the ruling of electoral officials, either monitors or registrars, that denied people the opportunity to vote in an alternative fashion when the voting lists were not ready at 6 a.m.," Judge Carl Schuman explained, referring to voters who were stalled or turned away while waiting for registration lists to arrive.

Malloy campaign attorney William Bloss said at least 10 of the city's 24 polling places opened as late as 7:30 a.m. because voter registration lists weren't delivered on time. Schuman denied the campaign's request to extend voting hours at eight of the 10 affected precincts, because, he said, alternatives were offered.

At the Hartford Seminary, for example, voters wrote their names, addresses and phone numbers on blank pieces of paper before receiving ballots. Moderators looked at voter identification and placed the ballots in an "auxiliary pile" to be checked against the registration lists when they arrived, a witness for the Foley campaign said in court.

That wasn't the case at all polling stations, according to other witnesses. Some city residents who were forced to wait for the registration lists gave up and left for work Tuesday morning without casting their ballots.

"One guy was working in New Haven, another in West Springfield. Another lady was catching an airplane. They're not going to come back. So their votes are lost," explained Lynda Baio, who said she waited more than an hour to cast her vote at the Hartford Senior Center.

"Throughout the city, the right thing that should have taken place this morning was allow the voter to vote, write their names down and issue a ballot. We don't stop the process; I apologize if people, moderators, election officials, did not recall that from the training and put that into practice this morning," said Hartford's Democratic Registrar of Voters Olga Vázquez.

Although representatives from the Foley campaign said the ruling is "not really" beneficial to them, campaign communications director Mark McNulty said Republicans would abide by the judge's ruling.

"These types of snafus end up undermining confidence in elections," McNulty said. "But the show must go on."

Secretary of the State Denise Merrill said after the ruling that her office "is referring these circumstances and the apparent gross dereliction of duty by Hartford's Registrars of Voters to the State Election Enforcement Commission for further investigation to determine if any state election laws were violated."

Hartford Mayor Pedro Segarra called the situation "inexcusable and unacceptable."

"In days to follow, we will undertake an investigation to make sure that those who are responsible for that will be held accountable for the actions or lack of actions," Segarra said during an afternoon news conference alongside Malloy. "I think that I really want to do everything possible in the next couple of days to ensure that this never, never happens again."

The governor emphasized the importance of allowing all voters to cast their ballots and said a number of votes were likely lost due to the polling problems in Hartford this morning.

“I think it is fundamental that people have the right to vote and that people have an equal right to vote, which means an equal amount of time and that the polls begin opening at the same time," Malloy said. "That clearly has not opened in here Hartford today and that is a mistake, and one that can affect people’s votes.”

President Barack Obama, who visited Connecticut over the weekend to rally support for Malloy, called into the Colin McEnroe radio show Tuesday afternoon, urging voters to get to the polls. During the interview, McEnroe asked the president about the Malloy campaign's complaint.

"We should make it as easy as possible for as many people as possible to vote," Obama said.

It's the second time Malloy and Foley face off in a battle for governorship. During the 2010 election, voting problems in Bridgeport prompted extended voting hours and days of recounts before Foley conceded to Malloy.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com
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<![CDATA[Polls Open Across Connecticut for Election 2014]]> Tue, 04 Nov 2014 08:12:54 -0500 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/voting_generic_ballot.jpg

The polls open statewide at 6 a.m. and people will head to the polls to vote in several races including who will be the next governor.

Gov. Dan Malloy (D) is seeking re-election, but Republican Tom Foley (R) is looking to unseat him. Unaffiliated candidate Joe Visconti suspended his campaign, but will remain on the ballot. The latest Quinnipiac Poll has Malloy and Foley points apart.

"I think I don't pay attention to polls. Polls are good for trends. They're not good for telling you what's actually going to happen. I'd rather be trending well but this is about who gets their votes to the polls,"

Malloy is scheduled to cast his vote in the morning.

Meanwhile, several viewers contacted NBC Connecticut to complain that polling places weren't ready for them to vote at 6 a.m. at about three different locations in Hartford.

When asked about the complaints, Secretary of State Denise Merrill said at the Hartford Seminary, another polling location, that she was not aware of these issues but that she would look into them when she returns to her office. Merrill said that her office fields as many as 5,000 calls on Election Day.

Election officials and voters can call the State Elections Enforcement Commission hotline at 1-866-733-2463 (1-866-733-2463 or email the commission at elections@ct.gov to report any problems at their polling place between 6 a.m. and 8 p.m., according to the state website.

You can visit the Connecticut Secretary of State website for more information on where you'll be voting and other election details.

Polling places will remain open until 8 p.m.

<![CDATA[Visconti to Remain on Ballot]]> Mon, 03 Nov 2014 19:46:20 -0500 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/Visconti_on_Foley_Endorsement_1200x675_351467587666.jpg

Although unaffiliated candidate for governor Joe Visconti has suspended his campaign and thrown his support behind GOP candidate Tom Foley, Visconti's name will remain on the ballot and the endorsement has no bearing on his official status in the race, according to Secretary of the State Denise Merrill.

“The machines have already been calibrated,” Merrill explained. “The ballots have been printed and ordered, so he will remain on the ballot and those votes will be tallied.”

Visconti, who petitioned his way onto the ballot by gathering more than 10,000 signatures from registered Connecticut voters, endorsed Foley on Sunday in a surprise announcement in Brookfield and asked his supporters to vote for Foley instead.

"We put the message out that we wanted and hopefully my people will come out, come over, because we have a lot of them,” Visconti said during an exclusive interview with NBC Connecticut’s George Colli on Sunday.

Merrill said her office communicated with Visconti's campaign, and the unaffiliated candidate made it clear that he was not altogether withdrawing. According to the Secretary of the State, the laws are vague when it comes to removing a candidate from the ballot.

Nevertheless, Merrill said "it would have had to happen a long time ago" in order to pull Visconti's name from the ballot on Tuesday.

Foley welcomed the endorsement from Visconti, who has billed himself as a “conservative alternative” on issues like guns and education.

"He doesn't want Gov. Malloy reelected. He wants me elected. He thinks Connecticut needs change. He realized that he could help make that happen by endorsing me, which I am grateful for," Foley said, during a campaign stop in Vernon.

When asked how he expects Visconti's endorsement to factor into the election, Gov. Dan Malloy said matter-of-factly that he didn't think it would make a significant difference with just hours to go until the polls open.

"He's on the ballot; the ballot was printed," Malloy said. "A lot of people will vote for Visconti. There's a reason they weren't voting for Tom Foley to begin with."

A Quinnipiac University Poll released Monday shows Malloy leading Foley with 47-44 percent of support from likely voters. Seven percent remain undecided.

Photo Credit: NBCConnecticut.com]]>
<![CDATA[Obama's Speech at Malloy Rally]]> Mon, 03 Nov 2014 14:22:19 -0500 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/Obama_Stumps_for_Malloy_1200x675_351911491671.jpg President Barack Obama visited Bridgeport Sunday to speak at a rally for Gov. Dannel P. Malloy. ]]> <![CDATA[Malloy and Foley Face Off on the Radio]]> Mon, 03 Nov 2014 15:20:07 -0500 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/FINALDEBATE110314.jpg In the final debate debate before the election, Gov. Malloy and Republican Candidate Tom Foley took to the airwaves to answer some final questions from voters.]]> <![CDATA[Full Footage From the Last Governor's Debate]]> Mon, 03 Nov 2014 15:21:23 -0500 http://media.nbcconnecticut.com/images/213*120/malloy+foley+chaz+and+aj+debate.jpg Gov. Dan Malloy and Republican challenger Tom Foley debated Nov. 3, 2014 for the last time before Tuesday's election on Chaz and AJ's morning show on 99.1 PLR. ]]>