Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Donovan Wants Minimum Wage Boosted

Speaker of the state House of Representatives Chris Donovan, now running for the U.S. Congress as a Democratic candidate in Connecticut’s 5th District, will be leading a group of Democrats who want to make changes to the state’s minimum wage laws, according to a notice from WTNH news channel 8.

“They have scheduled a news conference on Tuesday at the Legislative Office Building to discuss their proposals, including increasing the current hourly rate of $8.25 an hour.

“Another possible change under consideration is imposing automatic increases in the state's minimum wage, based on the cost of living index. Several states already have such a requirement on the books.

“House Speaker Christopher Donovan, a candidate for the 5th congressional district seat, is expected to be joined by several lawmakers, a union official, a business owner and a minimum wage worker.

“The issue will likely be taken up in the new session of the General Assembly, which opens on Feb. 8.”

Most economists believe that artificial boosts in the minimum wage create significant distortions in the labor market.

A minimum wage above that set by free markets limits employment opportunities for workers in training, college students, interns and part time workers. Some low paying jobs provide entrée points for workers without marketable skills, placing their feet on the lower rungs of a labor ladder that will carry them upwards to success and higher wages.

Forcing companies to pay politically inflated labor costs increases the likelihood that companies will outsource jobs to foreign parts where the cost of labor is less; or worse, it may drive small companies out of business. Mega-companies rarely have difficulty in meeting minimum wage demands.

Artificially increased labor costs particularly impact nonprofit and charitable organizations.

Increases in the minimum wage incentivize companies to replace mechanized job functions with robotic replacements, depriving low and mid-wage workers of employment opportunities.

Some economists opposed to the minimum wage argue that its elimination would provide more jobs for U.S. workers, boost tax revenues and reduce incentives that lead to illegal immigration.

The minimum wage generally creates competitive advantages for foreign companies, where the cost of labor is less. This imbalance creates obstacles for American companies competing globally.

When the minimum wage is set by politicians, personal choice is curtailed, since American citizens are deprived of the ability to say yes or no to job offers.

It is extremely doubtful, so long Mr. Donovan as Speaker continues to direct the business of the House, that any of the above points will be urged against yet another artificial hike in Connecticut’s minimum wage.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Vanderbilt Chancellor Issues Edict Affirming New Policy Offensive To Religious Groups On Campus

The new policy in place deprives religious groups on campus of effectuating their mission because the policy removes standards of leadership, according to Chris Godfrey, the National Advisor of Beta Upsilon Chi, Inc.

Mr. Godfrey has sent out the following media release:

“Dear News Team,

“I would like to inform you about a situation at Vanderbilt University that has escalated over the past few weeks and would like to encourage you to get the word out about this story. The Chancellor at the university, Nicholas Zeppos, sent out an e-mail two weeks ago informing the student body about a new non-discrimination policy that will that undermine the integrity of many student religious organizations. This issue deals with our First Constitutional Right, Freedom of Religion, Press, and Expression.

“He says in his e-mail that ‘I want to assure you the university does not seek to limit anyone's freedom to practice his or her religion. We do, however, require all Vanderbilt registered student organizations to observe our nondiscrimination policy. That means membership in registered student organizations is open to everyone and that everyone, if desired, has the opportunity to seek leadership positions.’ No matter how the facts are framed, the reality is that the student organization handbook was altered last December, when a section specifically protecting religious association was removed. Last April, a number of organizations were placed on provisional status as constitutions that had been easily approved in previous years were evaluated under this new standard.

“Now, with a new policy in place, religious organizations can no longer have standards for their leadership. They can no longer require that their leadership believe what the organization stands for. A Christian could lead a Jewish organization, a Muslim a Christian, etc. If a student says that they feel that they cannot join an organization or be elected an officer in it, there will be grounds for a university investigation.

“We need your help getting the word out about a Town Hall Meeting tomorrow that the university is hosting. The meeting is at 6:15pm tomorrow evening in Room 114 in Furman Hall. I have attached four documents that I think you will find helpful in highlighting important information regarding this issue. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to ask. Give me a call at (877) 250-4512 or e-mail me back if you need anything at all. Here is a video link that is relevant as well: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cOmpzQh6J7c


“Chris Godfrey

“National Advisor, Beta Upsilon Chi, Inc.

The missive sent by the Chancellor of Vanderbilt University in Nashville Tennessee was as follows:

“From: Chancellor Date: Friday, January 20, 2012 Subject: Message from the Chancellor To: VANDERBILT-COMMUNITY@list.vanderbilt.edu

“Dear Members of the Vanderbilt Community, As we settle into the spring semester, which will conclude with many of our students taking on new roles - as alumni - in our Vanderbilt community, it is a good time to reflect on the core principles and values of our university. As an institution of higher education, Vanderbilt values above all intellectual freedom that supports open inquiry, equal opportunity, compassion and excellence in all endeavors. We are committed to making our campus a welcoming environment for all, and we are dedicated to encouraging and supporting diversity of thought and opinion among our students, faculty and staff. We believe this sense of inclusiveness, of everyone being able to take part fully in the Vanderbilt experience, is essential to our being able to give students the most enriching educational experience we can provide, both inside and outside the classroom. We believe we all have the opportunity to learn greatly when we are exposed to new people, and to ideas and beliefs different from our own. Equally, we believe that in gaining exposure to the unfamiliar we may discover common ground. Religious freedom is also a fundamental value of our university community. Historically the intellectual freedom that is central to university life has its roots in respect for freedom of conscience. We also believe that Vanderbilt registered student organizations are an important part of the overall Vanderbilt educational experience. That is why we invest university funds in them and afford them the privilege of using the Vanderbilt name. We want to be certain that all of our students have an opportunity to join and fully participate in the registered student organizations that interest them. Questions have recently been raised about how our nondiscrimination policy applies to our registered student organizations. At Vanderbilt, we firmly believe that discrimination is wrong. Individuals must be judged as individuals, not as members of groups. This foundational belief is codified in our nondiscrimination policy, which covers all Vanderbilt students and all registered student organizations. Discussion concerning Vanderbilt's application of our policy, like discussion about other matters of communal concern, is healthy and welcome. What the discussion suggests to me is that, while there is widespread agreement with the principle of nondiscrimination, application of this principle to student religious organizations has prompted concern from some quarters.

“I want to assure you the university does not seek to limit anyone's freedom to practice his or her religion. We do, however, require all Vanderbilt registered student organizations to observe our nondiscrimination policy. That means membership in registered student organizations is open to everyone and that everyone, if desired, has the opportunity to seek leadership positions. We have great trust in our students to select their own leaders of these organizations. In an effort to ensure the content and purpose of our nondiscrimination policy are more fully understood and to continue to discuss any concerns, we will host a town hall meeting later this month. University leaders will explain and take questions about our position regarding registered student organizations and our nondiscrimination policy. We hope this forum will provide an opportunity for the intelligent, dedicated and compassionate members of the Vanderbilt community to make themselves heard, and we want to emphasize that all views are welcome. While the meeting is principally for our students, faculty and staff are welcome to attend and express themselves as well. Details of the town hall meeting will be announced soon. Meanwhile, thank you for all you do every day to advance the mission of Vanderbilt. As always, I am honored and privileged to serve as your Chancellor.

“Sincerely, Nicholas S. Zeppos Chancellor”

Some students at Vanderbilt responded to their Chancellor by means of a video:

Mr. Zeppos’ edict confuses important issues. Schools should not discriminate in their admissions policies, but an admissions policy that cannot set standards for admissions would launch colleges on a journey of suicidal recklessness. Colleges insist, for example, on certain standards for the hiring of staff. A non-discriminatory policy that would abolish standards of hiring would permit students, say, to teach courses at the university and even administer the functions that fall to the chancellor – which, in Mr. Zeppos’ case might not be a bad idea. It is always possible that one of the students “selected” -- though we must be careful of using such words in the absence of standards of selection -- as Chancellor of Vanderbilt might be more discriminating, in the good sense, than its present Chancellor.

The rule that applies to admissions to the college must also apply in some degree to the various clubs the college supports. A Newman club at any university would suffer greatly if, in the absence of standards, a leader of the club should be chosen who practices Wicca – not that there’s anything wrong with Wicca. Likewise, a conventicle of Satanists at Vanderbilt would reasonably wither in indignation if a member of the Newman club with were to be appointed as a club leader just because the chancellor of Vanderbilt was unable to distinguish between rightful and wrongful discrimination.

The chancellor is also climbing out on a very risky limb. Only recently, in a 9-0 decision, the Supreme Court of the United States for the first time the “ministerial exception” to state and federal employment discrimination laws, while rejecting the Obama administration’s argument that churches should be treated no differently than other employers.”

Reasoning that rights extended beyond reasonable bounds sooner or later collide with other important rights, chief justice John Roberts, writing for the majority, pointed out that “The interest of society in the enforcement of employment discrimination statutes is undoubtedly important. But so too is the interest of religious groups in choosing who will preach their beliefs, teach their faith, and carry out their mission,” a triumphant declaration of common sense that, for some reason, is beyond the ken of the chancellor of Vanderbilt University.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

We The People Press Release On FOI Request

Following below is a Press release issued by We The People Of Connecticut Inc.



Hartford, CT— On January 26, 2011, We the People of Connecticut, Inc., utilizing a team of representatives in a coordinated effort, simultaneously filed six formal Freedom of Information requests with six state agencies, including Governor Dannel Malloy’s office, seeking to obtain all documents relevant to the issuance of Governor Malloy’s Executive Orders Nine and Ten.

After waiting approximately four hours at Governor Malloy’s Office, Governor Malloy’s General Counsel, Andrew McDonald provided We the People of Connecticut with a single compact disk containing 44 documents. The documents provided, however, were primarily copies of agendas, minutes, and related materials created by, or presented to, the working group at its open meetings. We, the People of Connecticut, Inc. requested the following:

“We request the inspection and copies of any and all communications in the possession, or under the control or direction of, you and/or your office, wherever and in whatever form they exist – on paper, digital, electronic, or in any other form – to and/or from any public and/or private person and/or entity regarding all matters included in, and/or relating to:

(1) Governor Malloy’s Executive Orders 9 and 10;

(2) Any and all policies, procedures and processes regarding the establishment and implementation of any system of collective bargaining relating to child care workers and/or personal care attendants;

(3) Any and all policies, procedures and processes regarding the establishment and implementation of any election procedures for representatives of child care workers and/or personal care attendants;

(4) The results of any and all election procedures already undertaken regarding child care workers and/or personal care attendants;

(5) Any and all policies, procedures, processes, minutes, notes and all other documents regarding and/or resulting from any and all “meet and confer” sessions or proceedings relating to child care workers and/or personal care attendants;

(6) Any and all policies, procedures, processes, discussions and/or implementation of the possible and/or actual unionization of child care workers and/or personal care attendants;

(7) Conversations, meetings, notes, and any other communication with, any and all SEIU members or representatives, and/or any other union, representative entity, and/or third party, relating to child care workers and/or personal care attendants;

(8) The amount of money spent to date by any and all state agencies or individuals in discussing, planning, relating to and/or implementing Governor Malloy’s Executive Orders 9 and 10; and We the People of Connecticut, Inc.

(9) Communications, in any form, of any kind, to and/or from, any and all state agency or agencies, employee or employees of any and all state agencies, and individual child care workers and/or personal care attendants.

We are also hereby requesting that you immediately provide us with the following information:

(1) the names of all state employees who have worked on issues relating to Executive Orders 9 and 10:

(2) the state agency or agencies for whom they work or worked, the dates they began working on those issues, the dates they stopped working on those issues, whether they are continuing to work on those issues, how many hours per day they worked or are working on those issues, how many total hours they have worked on those issues from the time they began working on them until the date of this letter, and the subject matter of the work they performed or are performing on those issues;

(3) how much money from every state agency has been spent working on issues directly related to Executive Orders 9 and 10 from the first day those agencies began working on those issues until the date of this letter.”

The state’s Freedom of Information Act allows individuals to “inspect” documents of government agencies, with certain limited exceptions, at any time during the regular business hours.

None of the six teams of We the People of Connecticut, Inc. were allowed to inspect any documents requested, despite remaining in the offices of the six agencies for anywhere from four to six hours.

The CD of documents provided by McDonald contained only the following:

1.10 FCC Agenda.pdf

1.10 PCA Agenda.pdf

12.9.2011 FCC Working Group Minutes.doc

12.9.2011 PCA Working Group Minutes.doc

12.21 FCC Minutes.pdf

12.21 PCA Minutes.pdf

12.21 PCA Working Group Minutes.doc

12.21.2011 FCC Working Group Minutes.doc

CGA 19a-77 - Child Day Care Services Defined.doc

Executive Order No. 9.pdf

Executive Order No. 10.pdf

FCC - Maryann Parker testimony 1-10-12 FINAL.pdf

FCC - Maryland 2011 Report to MGA.doc

FCC - Maryland ChildCareProviders - Executive Order.pdf

FCC - Maryland Final SEIU Agreement62911css.pdf

FCC - Maryland HB 465_2010 annual report1.doc

FCC - Maryland hb465.pdf

FCC - Maryland SB 0284 - Collective Bargining.pdf

FCC - Maryland SEIU Memorandum of Agreement.pdf

FCC 1.10 Harry Elliot Presentation.pdf

FCC 1.10 Jennifer Harris Letter.pdf

FCC 1.10 meeting minutes draft.doc

FCC 1.10 Working Group Minutes.pdf

FCC 1.25 Meeting Agenda.pdf

FCC Agenda 12.9.doc

FCC Agenda 12.21.doc

FCC Draft Agenda 1.10.doc

FCC Draft Agenda 1.25.doc

FCC Providers Care4Kids.xls

NAFCC Best Practices for FCC Union Organizing.doc

Oregon HB 3618 Home Care Ammendment.pdf

Oregon Home Care Commission Constitutional Article.doc

Oregon Home Care Commission Legislation ORS 410.600-410.625.doc

Oregon PCA Contract.pdf

PCA - 1.10 Harry Elliot Presentation.pdf

PCA - CA SEIU-UHW 2009-11 AGREEMENT 3-09.pdf

PCA - Walter Kamiat Testimony 011012 (2).docx

PCA - Walter Kamiat Testimony 011012 (2).pdf

PCA 1.10 Draft Minutes.doc

PCA 1.10 Working Group Minutes.pdf

PCA Agenda 12.9.doc

PCA Agenda 12.21.doc

PCA Draft Agenda 1.10.doc

Wash. State SEIU Home Care Contract.pdf

McDonald also provided a letter in response to the requests, acknowledging receipt of the Freedom of Information requests and indicating, “We are in the process of reviewing what documentation may be responsive to your request, and whether or not any exemptions to disclosure may be applicable.” The letter also stated, “We have endeavored to comply with that request to the greatest extent possible, given our other responsibilities, workload, staffing levels and access to certain computers where such information resides”, and “When we complete the balance of our document review, we will respond in the appropriate manner.”

We would note that “endeavoring to comply” is not the same as actual compliance, and “responding in the appropriate manner” is not the same as actually providing non-exempt documents. It is obvious that only a limited number of documents concerning the issuance of Executive Orders 9 and 10 were made public after the FOI requests were received by the Governor’s Office and that only the information surrounding the meetings involving the working groups was released.

We the People of Connecticut, Inc. is certain that there were numerous other conversations, emails and meetings at the State Capitol, in the Governor's Office, and among the various state agencies, related to the issuance of Executive Orders 9 and 10 concerning the Governor's push for child care workers and personal care attendants to unionize. The people of Connecticut have a right to see every kind of information under the law concerning the background of the issuance of these orders, and they must be put in full view of our citizens when FOI requests are issued.

We the People of Connecticut, Inc. sincerely hopes that the Governor’s Office and the other state agencies fully comply with the law, allow for inspection during regular business hours of all non-exempt materials whenever a citizen makes such a request.

Although our request for inspection was met with total non-compliance by all six agencies, it is our sincere hope that the Governor’s promised response to our request will be swift, complete, and in full compliance with the law.

We the People of Connecticut will continue to work for the citizens of Connecticut in this matter, and in defense of the Constitution whenever, and however, necessary.
For further information contact:

Attorney Deborah G. Stevenson, Chief Counsel, (860) 354-3590, (203) 206-4282 (cell), email:

PRESS RELEASE 1-27-12.pdf (288KB)

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Malloy And His Critics

Kevin Rennie, a political columnist who writes for the Hartford Courant, very likely can expect a sling or an arrow to be coming his way sometime soon. Malloyalites do not react with equanimity to sharp criticism, and in a recent column Mr. Rennie notes that Mr. Malloy, short on cash he needs to plug a reappearing budget deficit, is “squeezing the Mohegans,” owners of one of Connecticut’s two Indian casinos, “for political contributions at the same time he is wielding the power of his office.”

Mr. Rennie notes that the Clean Election Fund, which gave Mr. Malloy more than $8 million to level the playing field between candidate for governor Malloy and his Republican rival, has tapped itself on the shoulder in its annual report for having made it possible for Connecticut citizens to reclaim “their government with the already dramatically reduced role of special interest influence in Connecticut elections."

But they haven’t, Rennie writes:

“No, it hasn't. On Feb. 3, the head of the Mohegans will hold a funding luncheon for Prosperity for Connecticut, Malloy's political action committee, at a casino hotel. The price per ticket is $750, the maximum the law allows. The pressure is on to sell a lot of tickets. The Mohegan PAC slipped a maximum contribution to Malloy's committee on Dec. 28, so it's allowed to give again in the new year.”

The Mohegans have little choice but to play the usual political game: “Competition is increasing. The recession and stagnant aftermath damaged their business. The tribe is trying to refinance more than a $1 billion in bonds. It faces February and April deadlines to pay investors. It needs a piece of online gaming.”

Mr. Rennie may be mistaken in part. While Mr. Malloy is raising money for Prosperity for Connecticut, it is not his PAC. Mr. Malloy’s PAC, DanPAC, was discontinued earlier last month.

The chairperson of Prosperity For Connecticut is James Wade, one of the Grand Poobahs of the Democratic Party and for twenty years its outside counsel. Mr. Poobah, associated with Robinson and Cole, drafted the procedural and substantive rules of the party and occasionally represented it before the United States Supreme Court. Many of the contributions to Prosperity For Connecticut come from lobbyists or dependents of lobbyists.

Mr. Malloy’s real problem, however, is what it always has been: funny budget numbers.

Connecticut once again is in the red, according to a below the fold story in the CTNow section of the Hartford Courant written by Christopher Keating .

And the lede, which probably should have run on the front page: “Gov. Dannel Malloy's estimate of pension savings over 20 years was wrong by $3.1 billion, the legislature's nonpartisan fiscal office said Friday.”

The non-partisan Office of Fiscal Analysis was NEVER able to verify the savings figures claimed by the governor and his Malloyalites when, weeks before a much publicized set-to between Mr. Malloy and SEBAC, Connecticut’s fourth branch of government, the state budget was presented to the Democratic dominated legislature for approval. The legislature approved the budget with its penciled in figures before negotiation between Mr. Malloy and SEBAC were complete, an astounding dereliction of constitution responsibility on the part of a General Assembly that did not want to leave its fingerprints on a budget close to the coming elections. The legislature simply took a hike when the governor was negotiating with unions for putative givebacks, pre-approving the budget before negotiations were complete and by default investing Mr. Malloy what amounted to plenipotentiary power to finalize the budget.

As an amusing sidelight, a group of budget conscious rebels associated with The Roger Sherman Institute last June took the state to court a few weeks after the Malloy-SEBAC document, full of fanciful figures, had been approved by the General Assembly, arguing that it was not in balance. They implored Superior Court Judge James Graham to order the legislature to produce a constitutionally required balanced budget.

Fat chance there. The judge decided that a balanced budget was more or less a term of legislative art. Now, months after the suit, we discover that the state budget is off by $3.1 billon, which ought to bring a blush to the cheeks of derelict Democratic legislators in the House and Senate.

Fat chance there. The Democrats in the General Assembly who surrendered their constitutional prerogatives to Malloyalists and SEBAC have no sense of shame.

One of them, Speaker of the House Chris Dovovan, is asking the people of the 5th District to send him to the U.S. House, so that he can represent the interests of all the people in the state that he, the governor, SEBAC, the Malloyalists and the constitutionally flaccid House he runs have so successfully hoodwinked.


I am advised by Christine Stewart of CTNewsJunkie that Mr. Rennie was wrong in writing that Prosperity for Connecticut was Mr. Malloy’s PAC: “He's raising money for it yes, but he got rid of his PAC which was DanPAC earlier this month.” It is important to leave this ADDENDA in place, along with the original posting, because it appeared in other venues, a newspaper among them. The text has been corrected.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

The Brave New World Of Political Campaigns

The pre-nominating convention battle, now in full swing among Republicans, is a painful winnowing process. Already a number of Republican presidential hopefuls – Minnesota Congresswoman Michele Bachmann, businessman and entrepreneur Herman Cane, Texas Governor Rick Perry – have succumbed to the political grim reaper.

Former Governor of Massachusetts Mitt Romney, former Speaker of the U.S. House Newt Gingrich, Senator Rick Santorum and U.S. Representative Ron Paul have been left to tell their tales. They continue to battle, mostly against themselves, with occasion forays against President Barrack Obama who, one supposes, is enjoying the show – and taking notes -- while political operatives outside the closed circle of his campaign advisers are editing Republican clashes for YouTube. Mr. Paul has a tight-fisted articulate crowd of libertarian admirers following him wherever he goes; Mr. Santorum has done remarkably well among conservative Republicans; Mr. Romney and Mr. Gingrich have pasts, which continue to haunt them.

The knock on Mr. Paul is that, while his message is convincingly anti-Obama, he cannot win a general election. Mr. Romney has been attacked by both Democrats and BigPAC, money raising groups operating outside the failed campaign financing laws promulgated by McCain-Feingold in the Senate and Shays-Meehan in the House, as a conscienceless corporate raider intent on putting American workers out of work. The same ploy was used successfully here in Connecticut by friends of Dannel Malloy in his gubernatorial campaign against Republican Party nominee for governor Tom Foley. Mr. Santorum has been attacked as a benighted social conservative. Mr. Gingrich, perhaps the most adept debater in the group, has been attacked by movement conservatives as an ambitious faux conservative, by Democrats as a loopy idea man, and as unelectable by scorched-earth conservative Ann Coulter. In his climb up the greasy ladder of political success, Mr. Gingrich has left in his wake at least one wife who spilled the beans to a reporter hiding under the Gingrich marital bed. Mr. Gingrich, those unfriendly to the former House Speaker have intimated, has Achilles’ heels on both his cloven feet.

On Tuesday, Mr. Obama delivered his “State of the Union” address, an exercise in redundancy since most everyone in the nation understands that the state of the union, after three years of re-inventive stroking by Mr. Obama, is perilous. The national debt has inched past $15 trillion. The gross debt of the United States as a percentage of its gross national product – the value of everything produced by the nation – is 100 percent; a comparable figure for Greece, the economic basket case of Europe, is 130 percent; in Italy, on its side in the Mediterranean and run up against the rocks of reality, somewhat like the stricken Costa Concordia cruise ship, the rate is119 percent; Asia, led by China, which holds the largest proportion of U.S. Debt, is 41 percent.

Before the State of the Union address, Republican political watchers suspected that Mr. Obama – whose job approval ratings have dipped after his third year in office to 44 percent from a high of 57 percent during his first year in office – would use the occasion as an opportunity to let loose upon the union his campaign script. They were not disappointed. Mr. Obama’s State of the Union address was only a few hours old when fact checkers with the Associated Press, hardly a conventicle of Republican anti-Obamaites, tore it to shreds.

Republicans continue to tear themselves to shreds. At some point, the winner of the Republican Party nominating convention will meet Mr. Obama on the field of battle, by which time super PACs operating outside the party system and beyond the reach of McCain-Feingold-Shays-Meehan will have assembled enough YouTube clips of Republican Party family quarrels to wallpaper the walls of Hell. Republican super PACs will be doing the same to Democrats.

Everything will be fair game because the money laundering – and, even more importantly, the inventive, semi-fictional narratives captured by partisan non-partisan outliers – will not betray the fingerprints of either party.

Behold the fruits of the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002, which has moved both money and responsibility away from political parties towards the brave new world of bare-knuckle anything-goes campaigning.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Is The Mayor Of East Haven A Disabled Idiot

The following note is taken directly from the minutes of a meeting of the State Employees Retirement Commission, an agency under the direction of Comptroller Kevin Lembo:

“I have a matter in the MERS [Municipal Employees Retirement Services] Unit that I would like to bring to your attention. A member of the system was receiving a disability retirement. In November he was sworn in as the Mayor of East Haven. At that time we provided him with a letter advising him that it was necessary to terminate his disability retirement benefit effective November 30, 2011 related to two provisions for MERS. First, under the rehired retiree provisions and second under the disability retirement provisions that to be eligible for a disability retirement you must continue to remain disabled. The member is appealing the decision to terminate his disability retirement benefits.”

The unnamed member in the MERS unit “sworn in as the Mayor of East Haven” is Joseph A. Maturo Jr., who recently came under heavy fire as a possible racist for having ineptly answered a question put to him by a New York TV Reporter.

Following an announcement that the FBI had arrested police officers in East Haven for unjustly hassling Latinos, the reporter asked the mayor, “What do you plan to do for Latinos tonight?”

The mayor responded that he might or might not have some tacos for supper that night. And then realizing he had dug himself a bottomless pit, clumsily attempted a tortuous explanation, jumped into the hole and covered himself in infamy.

The mayor apologized, acknowledged that his was a shallow answer to a shallow question – and what have you done TONIGHT for Latinos? -- said he was fatigued at the end of a long day, went to bed and rose up in the morning a roundly denounced bonafide racist idiot.

From snow swept Davos, there to commingle with the one per-centers denounced by the Occupy Wall-Streeter Movement, Governor Dannel Malloy got in a pretty good lick:

"The comments by East Haven Mayor Joseph Maturo are repugnant. They represent either a horrible lack of judgment or worse, an underlying insensitivity to our Latino community that is unacceptable.”

If Mr. Maturo’s appeal of the judgment already made by the State Employees Retirement Commission fails, he stands to lose $43,184.76-a-year in disability payments for back injuries he sustained on the job as an East Haven firefighter.

Continuing to serve as mayor of East Haven, it would appear, would not only stress Mr. Maturo’s fraying nerves; it might strain his bank account as well.

The betting among the large Italian community in East Haven is that Mr. Maturo is not so much the idiot that he can’t do simple math.

This Is A Republic?

In the wake of a downgrade by Moody’s, Governor Dannel Malloy has deployed his recision authority to trim Connecticut’s budget.

A few points ought to be made. These are recisions made by the governor unilaterally, which means that legislators who will be running for office soon will not be leaving any unsightly fingerprints on what may be temporary budget cuts.

Temporary cuts – the funding can be restored any time – cannot solve permanent problems.

The monies Governor Dannel Malloy will be wringing out of the Department of Children and Families, $28.4 million, and the Department of Mental Health and Addiction services, $14.5 million, are either necessary or unnecessary funds used to provide services for abused children and people afflicted with mental disorders. If the funds are unnecessary, the cuts should be made permanently by a legislature constitutionally charged with the authority to approve budgets. If the funds are necessary, they should be restored to the agencies. It would be much less painful for people afflicted in Connecticut by abuse or mental disorders if the governor and the legislature were to reduce the salaries and benefits of state union workers or raise the retirement age of such workers. But of course in that case both the governor and the Democratic dominated legislature would receive vocal and political opposition from organized unions. The victim of domestic abuse and the mentally ill, fortunately for both the governor and the legislature, are neither organized nor unionized.

Budgets are all about making proper choices. Legislators up for re-election, one must suppose, must be delighted that such choices will not mar their chance at regaining office. Nor is this the first time the legislature has abdicated its constitutional responsibilities. In Connecticut, the legislature simply took a hike when the governor was negotiating with unions for putative givebacks; the legislature pre-approved the budget before the negotiations were complete and by default invested Mr. Malloy what amounted to plenipotentiary power to shape the budget. Yesterday was the anniversary of the 1,000th day the United States has been without a budget.

This is a hell of a way to run a Republic.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Connecticut’s Vanishing Surplus

The state of Connecticut should not be running surpluses. A surplus is the amount of money the state has overcharged its citizens to meet expenditures. Connecticut has run surpluses ever since former Governor Lowell Weicker engineered his income tax to pay for extravagant spending that has increased the state’s budget from $7.5 billion under former Governor William O’Neill, the last pre-income tax governor, to $20.4 billion under Governor Dannel Malloy. Successive surpluses have been tucked into budgets for the last 20 years, with predictable results; Connecticut’s chief engine of growth for the last 20 years has been municipal and state governments.

Partially owing to surpluses and a perverse notion that the state of Connecticut never had a spending problem during these years of plenty – the operative assumption of pro-spending forces, iterated in scores of editorials and op-ed commentary, having been that the state could solve all its budget problems by increasing revenue -- the bottom line on the state budget tripled during the administration of three governors, two of them Republicans. Mr. Weicker, father of the state’s income tax, was a longtime Republican who created his own party to run as governor. The General Assembly, the organ of government primarily responsible for budgets, was during the same period dominated by Democrats.

Without engaging Republicans in the General Assembly, the governor and Connecticut’s dominant Democratic legislature approved a budget for this fiscal year that contained a surplus of $88 million. A surplus of $496 million was tucked into the 2012-13 budget.

Under the hammer blows of a failing economy, apparently undetected by Democrats in the legislature and the Malloyalists who negotiated putative savings with SEBAC, Connecticut’s fourth branch of government, surplus figures have now been paired back.

The $1.5 billion in new taxes the governor and his Democratic affiliates in the legislature imposed to rid the state of a $3.2 billion deficit in the state’s budget is not subject to the vagaries of our partially free market system. The state can take its tax increases to the bank. Cost savings of $1.8 billion that were supposed to offset the red ink are far less dependable. The relatively non-partisan Office of Fiscal Analysis was never able to affirm Mr. Malloy’s projected savings.

The biennial budget for fiscal years 2012-13 totals $40.54 billion, about $20 billion a year. Since 1980, state spending has risen from$ 4,400 per household to $10,000 per household, an increase of 227%. Connecticut has a total state debt of approximately $99,751,294,000, calculated by adding the total of outstanding official debt, pension and other post-employment benefits (OPEB) liabilities, Unemployment Trust Fund loans, and FY2011 budget gap, according to a Sunshine Review report.

Figures such as these point to a spending problem, and spending problems are not addressed by revenue increases. Indeed, spending problems are exacerbated when revenue increases, because the depth of the spending floor increases in exact proportion to revenue gains. The more money you get, the more you spend. The more money you spend, the larger the deficit becomes with each succeeding budget. And when the grim reaper of a recession finally knocks on your door, he will find you knee deep in red ink, scrambling to meet state indebtedness, if you are a left of center progressive, by instituting permanent tax increases and dubious long term cost saving measures.

Mr. Weicker removed from Connecticut its most distinctive and appealing feature, the lack of an income tax. The additional taxes he imposed on the state, including the income tax, made the state less competitive with other non-income tax states. The recent additional taxes imposed on Connecticut by a Democratic governor and a Democratic General Assembly unwilling to include Republicans in their budget deliberations, the largest tax increase in Connecticut’s history, sent a clear message to businesses outside the state that might have considered embedding jobs in the state: The spending arc is bending in the wrong direction.

The Malloy-managed solution to “growing the economy” – remove entrepreneurial funds from the private economy by increasing taxes and use the sequestered funds to provide tax relief to large companies – is simply an admission of defeat. Targeted tax credits and loans directed at too big to fail companies are little more than bribery, though it has become difficult in present circumstances to discover who is bribing whom, the crony capitalists or the crony government.

Senate Minority Leader John McKinney's stinging analysis – “This is more proof that Governor Malloy's over reliance on tax increases was a failed approach to balancing the state budget in a responsible way. When the largest tax increase in state history isn't enough to pay the bills, I hope everyone can agree that a significant reduction in the size and cost of government is in order" – preceded only by a few hours a decision by Moody’s Investors Service to further downgrade Connecticut’s general obligation bond rating to Aa3 from Aa2.

The rating agency cited as sufficient reasons for the downgrade Connecticut’s high fixed costs for debt service and post-employment benefits, as well as low pension fund ratios and depleted reserves. Almost instantaneously, Secretary of the Office of Policy and Management Ben Barnes issued through the governor’s office a response hinting darkly that Moody’s downgrade was intended principally to “satisfy their internal corporate need to deflect attention from their historic lack of credibility.”

Moody’s downgrade,” Mr. Barnes wrote in a press release, “reflects their continued reaction to their central involvement in the financial scandals that led to the deepest recession since the Great Depression. Coming on the eve of our budget release, without an imminent bond sale, suggests that the move is motivated by factors other than Connecticut’s creditworthiness.”

Unfortunately, attacking the messenger of bad news is becoming a too familiar deflective strategy among Malloyalists surrounding the governor.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Malloy Re-inventing Taxes

In the new state reinvented by Governor Dannel Malloy and his Malloyalists, sin taxes are in. And if the state is unable to reap enough taxes from current sins – boozing, gambling and driving cars to work rather than biking to the job -- Connecticut will, with the help of the federal government, create new vistas of sin and tax them to the hilt.

The tax on tobacco products in Connecticut, already the highest in the Republic, was increased in Mr. Malloy’s first budget 27.5 to 50 percent on products such as cigars and pipe tobacco. Snuff tobacco suffered a tax increase from $0.55 to $1 an ounce. Former Attorney General Richard Blumenthal rose to prominence in the state by beating the tobacco industry with a big litigation stick; recently Senator Blumenthal sought to end cigar smoking as at sporting events.

Taxes on gas in Connecticut, an energy product frown upon by the environmental industry, is the highest in the nation, largely because the state realizes a revenue bonanza on gas from two different taxes: the gas tax at 25 cents a gallon, and the gross receipt tax at another 25 cents a gallon. Republican State Senator Len Suzio is contemplating a bill that would cap the gross receipt tax at $3. But a bill adjusting downward a tax in Connecticut is a rare legislative animal, and any such measure is likely to be smothered in its crib by Democratic legislators whose platforms for reelection generally contain smoldering verbiage plighting their troth to middle class nutmeggers taxed by Mr. Malloy.

Like the mafia of old, Connecticut does not tax gambling directly; it simply demands a piece of the action. Former Governor Lowell Weicker is responsible for the contract between Connecticut and its two Indian casinos that regularly dumps a percentage of slot machine business into state coffers. Tax money realized by the state from its two Indian Casinos runs about $33 million per year, and the coming state tax on internet gambling, now referred to by the poofy euphemism “gaming,” promises to swell state coffers even more.

Thanks mostly to an interpretation of a law by a functionary in President Barrack Obama’s Justice Department, the states and the federal government will reap many more tax dollars from a new industry created by legal re-invention – internet gambling. The promise of additional tax revenue flowing from the new internet gambling industry has had a soporific effect on politicians in the state who used to inveigh against gambling, among them former Attorney General Richard Blumenthal, who went to Washington promising his constituents that he would fight for them as senator with the same passion he brought to the attorney general’s office. The senator is no longer keen on preventing internet gambling.

Shortly after he had been swept into office with a miniscule plurality of votes -- only 6,404 among 1.2 million cast during his joust with Republican candidate for governor Tom Foley, a jobs producer savagely portrayed in pro-Democratic ads as a corporate raider -- Mr. Malloy and the Malloyalites surrounding him plotted a massive tax hike, the largest in Connecticut history, not excepting former Governor Lowell Weicker’s tax raid on Connecticut citizens in 1991 following the former governor’s successful effort in adding an income tax to Connecticut’s revenue producing engines.

An adept politician, Mr. Malloy discovered a way to boil the lobster -- very slowly over a low flame -- to prevent it jumping the pot.

Mr. Malloy mollified arch progressives on the left such as Speaker of the House Chris Donovan, now running for the U.S. Congress in the 5th District, by readjusting tax brackets and rates, increasing tax brackets from three to six and boosting the top marginal income tax rate to 6.7%. A provision was added into Mr. Malloy’s budget that allowed residents who do not pay income taxes to collect from Connecticut’s treasury an Earned Income Tax Credit amounting to 30% of their Federal Earned Income Tax Credit.

In order to increase revenue substantially enough to produce fiscal surpluses, Mr. Malloy broadened the tax base, increased Sales and Use Taxes, Admissions Taxes, Corporation Business Taxes, Excise Taxes and Miscellaneous Taxes. Then he went to work reducing the offsets. The income tax credit for property taxes paid to Connecticut municipalities was reduced from $500 to $300. Mr. Malloy recently formed a commission to study other tax credits offered to businesses in Connecticut with a view to reducing them, thus adding even more revenue to state coffers.

As business production dipped both in Connecticut and the nation at large, Mr. Malloy added to the sagging shoulders of Connecticut corporations a business surtax of 20% that is to apply, provided the tax self-lapses, for income years 2012 to 2014.

Mr. Malloy boosted tax rates as shown below, according to a “Summary of Tax Provisions Contained in 2011 Conn. Pub. Acts 6,” that appears on Commissioner of Revenue Services Kevin Sullivan’s site:

“The general sales and use tax rate increases from 6% to 6.35%;

“The room occupancy tax increases from 12% to 15%;

“The tax on the rental or leasing of a passenger motor vehicle for a period of 30 consecutive calendar days or less increases from 6% to 9.35%;

“A tax rate of 7% applies to the following: the sale for more than $50,000 of most motor vehicles, the sale for more than $100,000 of a vessel, the sale for more than $5,000 of jewelry (whether real or imitation), the sale for more than $1,000 of an article of clothing or footwear intended to be worn on or about the human body, a handbag, luggage, umbrella, wallet or watch."
Mr. Malloy then taxed services that had not been taxed before he was elected:

“Services rendered in the voluntary evaluation, prevention, treatment, containment or removal of hazardous waste or other contaminants of air, water or soil;

“Valet parking provided at any airport;

“Yoga instruction provided at a yoga studio;

“Motor vehicle storage services;

“Packing and crating services;

“Motor vehicle towing and road services;

“Intrastate transportation services provided by livery services, with certain exceptions, including nonemergency medical transportation provided under the Medicaid program, certain paratransit services and dial-a-ride services;

“Pet grooming, pet boarding services, and pet obedience services;

“Services in connection with a cosmetic medical procedure;

“Manicure services, pedicure services and all other nail services; and
“Spa services.”
He imposed new admission taxes never before collected on:

“The Hartford Civic Center;

“The New Haven Coliseum;

“New Britain Beehive Stadium;

“New Britain Stadium;

“New Britain Veterans Memorial Stadium;

“Bridgeport Harbor Yard Stadium;

“Stafford Motor Speedway;

“Lime Rock Park;

“Thompson Speedway;

“Waterford Speedbowl;

“Facilities owned or managed by the Tennis Foundation of Connecticut or any successor organization;
“William A. O’Neill Convocation Center;

“Connecticut Exposition Center;

“Nature’s Art;

“Connecticut Convention Center;

“Dodd Stadium;

“Arena at Harbor Yard;

“Games of the New Britain Rock Cats, New Haven Ravens or the Waterbury Spirit."
Never one to overlook an opportunity to tax sin, Mr. Malloy increased excise taxes:

“Cigarette Tax - Rate increase: The cigarette tax rate will increase from $3.00 to $3.40 per pack on July 1, 2011.

“Tobacco Products Tax - Rate increases: Effective July 1, 2011, the tax on all tobacco products (other than tobacco snuff products) will increase from 27.5 percent to 50 percent of the wholesale sales price of such products. In the case of cigars, the tax will be 50 percent of the wholesale sales price, not to exceed 50 cents per cigar.

“Effective July 1, 2011, the tax on tobacco snuff products will increase from $0.55 per ounce to $1.00 per ounce of snuff.

“Effective July 1, 2011, the tax on cigars will be 50 percent of the wholesale sales price, not to exceed 50 cents per cigar.

“Alcoholic Beverage Tax - Rate increases: Effective July 1, 2011, the various alcoholic beverages tax rates will increase by 20%."
The seventh day not having yet arrived, Mr. Malloy was not quite finished re-inventing Connecticut. He had neglected to tap a rich vein of Miscellaneous Taxes. Perhaps his economic guru Ben Barnes rousted him from slumber with a tap on the shoulder.

“Hey boss, you forget something.

“Oh Yeah.”

“Real Estate Conveyance Tax - Rate increases: For deeds, instruments or writings that are currently subject to the state real estate conveyance tax at a rate of 0.5%, the rate is increased to 0.75% effective July 1, 2011.

“For deeds, instruments or writings that are currently subject to the state real estate conveyance tax at a rate of 1.0%, the rate is increased to 1.25% effective July 1, 2011.

“Estate Tax: For estates of decedents dying on or after January 1, 2011, an estate is subject to the Connecticut estate tax if the amount of the Connecticut taxable estate exceeds $2 million.

“Gift Tax: For Connecticut taxable gifts made by a donor during a calendar year commencing on or after January 1, 2011, including the aggregate amount of Connecticut taxable gifts made by the donor during all calendar years commencing on or after January 1, 2005, the Connecticut gift tax will be imposed if the amount of Connecticut taxable gifts exceeds $2 million (with a credit allowed against such tax for Connecticut gift tax previously paid for Connecticut taxable gifts made on or after January 1, 2005, but prior to January 1, 2011).

“New Electric Generation Tax: Effective for calendar quarters commencing July 1, 2011, there is a new electric generation tax that is imposed on every entity that is providing electric generation services and uploading electricity generated at a facility in Connecticut to the regional bulk power grid. The tax is equal to $0.0025 multiplied by the net kilowatt hours of electricity that are generated and uploaded. The tax does not apply to electricity generated and uploaded exclusively through the use of fuel cells, solar, wind, water, or biomass. Note: This tax is scheduled to sunset on July 1, 2013.

“New Hospitals Tax: Effective for calendar quarters commencing July 1, 2011, there is a new tax imposed on a hospital’s “net patient revenue.”

“New Residential Day User Fee – ICF-MR: Effective for calendar quarters commencing July 1, 2011, there is a new “residential day user fee” on each intermediate care facility for the mentally retarded in this state.

“Nursing Home User Fee: Effective for calendar quarters commencing on or after October 1, 2011, the fee is based on the sum of each nursing home’s anticipated nursing home net revenue multiplied by a percentage set by the Department of Social Services, which percentage will not exceed the maximum allowed under federal law.”
When Mr. Malloy had finished re-inventing Connecticut’s taxes, only sticks, stones and grasshoppers remained unaccosted by the tax collector. The revenue lemon, which represented approximately one half of Mr. Malloy’s “shared sacrifice,” had been squeezed dry.

The new internet gambling tax is very much like the tobacco and alcohol tax in several respects. Smoking, drinking and gambling are discreditable activities. Both Mr. Blumenthal and Mr. Malloy, one supposes, avoid all three. There are no photo opportunities showing the governor or the senator poised at a one armed bandit – so called for a good reason – encouraging a client of Foxwoods or Mohegan Sun to dump their savings into shot machines.

And yet…

Revenue from sin taxes can be turned to good use. The gambler who drops fifty bucks at Foxwoods contributes his mite to teacher pensions, busway projects and Mr. Malloy’s other re-invention activities.

While governors and senators hate the sin, they love the taxpaying sinner. Internet gambling creates a whole new industry for tax plucking purposes. Obstacles will be removed, objections will not be sustained.

Friday, January 13, 2012

No Tax Increases, No Increase In Progressivism

Governor Dannel Malloy, busying himself with re-inventing Connecticut, has now formed a task force to review and assess the effectiveness of the state’s business tax credits, according to a recent press release.

Executive Order 17 “will create a nine member Governor’s Business Tax Policy Review Taskforce. The taskforce’s mission will be to review the state’s business tax policies to ensure that Connecticut is getting the maximum return on its investments, with an eye toward policies that will make the state even more competitive for future job growth.”

“Over the last year,” Mr. Malloy said, “we’ve made every effort to reinvent our state, so that we could turn around twenty years of job loss and spur our economy. From ‘First Five’ to the bipartisan jobs package, we sent a message across the country and around the world that Connecticut is open for business. This taskforce will make sure that Connecticut is getting a solid return on those investments by closely examining ways to reduce costs, improve efficiency, and ensure that taxpayer dollars are being used to create and retain good, permanent jobs for our workforce. It will also be charged with finding policies that will make our state even more competitive so that we can pull even more jobs into our state.”

In tandem with Mr. Malloy, Comptroller Kevin Lembo let loose his own press release:

“I am delighted that the Governor agrees on the importance of evaluating tax expenditures. Whether through existing law or through the Governor’s new order, I look forward to an open and impartial conversation and analysis of this important portion of our state budget.

“There are more than a half billion state tax expenditures on the books – and we need to confirm whether they’re working. With so many dollars at stake, particularly concerning job-creation initiatives, they must be monitored closely to ensure success.”

Mr. Lembo suggested that the Business Tax Credit and Policy Review Committee, dormant since its 2005, should be raised from the dead “to study and evaluate existing credits against the corporation business tax and to make recommendations on changes or modifications necessary where tax policy …is not providing a measurable benefit sufficient to justify any revenue loss to the state.”

There is no indication in the press releases that the Governor’s Business Tax Policy Review Taskforce will be tasked with measuring the measurable benefit of the governor’s First Five program and its effect upon tax receipts that might better be put to use elsewhere.

Reading between the lines of these mystery laden media releases yields the following possibilities.

1) Net taxes once again will increase, this time by pruning unnecessary tax credits, i.e. those in Mr. Lembo’s view that do not prove “sufficient to justify any revenue loss to the state.” The operative premise of this view is that taxes attributable to tax credits not collected by the state already belong to the state; businesses presently using such forgiven taxes for other purposes – for instance, to pay the salaries of their workers – are simply renting the tax money from a once and no longer generous government.

2) Net tax receipts will not increase because Mr. Malloy, serious about resetting the relationship between business and state, will abandon all tax credits and, at the same time, reduce business taxes proportionally, thus sharing the benefit of lower business costs with every business in the state, as well as every business outside the state drawn to Connecticut by a promise of equal and fair dealing.

The first choice is the path to ruin. All business taxes are passed on to consumers in the form of higher prices. Small businesses, working within a very tight profit margin, cannot afford to increase costs without making economies elsewhere, usually by reducing the price of labor. This is done by firing workers and increasing joblessness.

The second choice will not be the first choice of Connecticut’s ruling class because, in the short term, a reform that does not increase taxes deprives progressive politicians of the walking around money they need to shore up the support necessary for reelection. And in the long run, we’re all dead.

Politics as usual suggests that Mr. Malloy and Mr. Lembo, after laundering the responsibility for their choices through nine member Governor’s Business Tax Policy Review Taskforce will settle upon number 1. No taxes, no progressivism.

Shays Attacks McMahon


As always, I love it when Republicans go at each other. Here's a great one, in case you missed it:

Former U.S. Rep. Christopher Shays is trying to strip Linda McMahon of her belt as the true job creator in the Republican race for U.S. Senate, saying McMahon's record as former chief executive of WWE is rife with the tragic deaths of the very same wrestlers McMahon has made part of her campaign narrative of corporate success and economic prosperity.

"Let's think about it: She's got over 41 people 50 years and younger who've died in her jobs. That's quite a job record that she's created," Shays said Wednesday...

"While she was in her entertainment business, which promotes bullying, I was balancing the federal budget and creating 8 million federal jobs," Shays said. "While I was doing that, she was in the entertainment business making millions. Some people ended up dying because of it. It's all part of her record."

Hearst newspapers reporter Neal Vigdor, no friend of liberals, piles on:

During the 14 months of McMahon's 2010 Senate candidacy alone, five former WWE wrestlers under the age of 60 died.

Read more: http://www.ctpost.com/local/article/Shays-assails-McMahon-on-WWE-2476854.php#ixzz1jLNCadPu

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Who Are The Ron Paul Independents?

Reporting on the New Hampshire primary, NBC Politics on MSNBC noted:

“Remarkably, self-described independents accounted for nearly half of all voters Tuesday – a piece of data which has implications for November. Paul won 32 percent of independents, with Romney getting 29 percent, and Huntsman picking up 23 percent of them.”

The datum on the Independent vote is important for a number of reasons.

New Hampshire and New England is considered fertile political ground for liberals, which is why Barry Goldwater said many years ago that if you lop off California and New England, you have “a pretty good country.” It is remarkable that half of people voting in the Republican primary were Independents. And it is equally remarkable that Mr. Paul, a libertarian who is by no means moderate, was able to garner such a large chunk of the Independent vote.

The literature on Independents is scant. Woodrow Wilson International Center scholar Linda Killian has written a book due out in May titled “The Swing Vote: The Untapped Power Of Independents” that identifies various independent groups: “NPR Republicans,” socially moderate and fiscally conservatives; “America First Democrats,” working class Midwesterners armored in traditional values; “Facebook Generation” voters, usually under 35 and reluctant to join groups other than those organized on the internet; and “Starbuck Moms And Dads… real power voters,” socially moderate, chiefly concerned with education and security, split evenly between Republicans and Democrats.

Perhaps the Independent species in New Hampshire is different in the rest of the country. But if it is not, President Barack Obama should begin worrying.

4,872 donors in 2011 power Murphy to record-setting fundraising


With more pre-election year donors than any federal campaign in Connecticut’s history, Chris Murphy’s campaign for U.S. Senate raised over $720,000 in the final fundraising quarter of 2011, bringing the campaign’s total raised to $3.5 million. Murphy enters 2012 with a staggering $2.5 million in the bank.

“When we kicked off this campaign 12 months ago, I’m not sure I could have imagined that a year later we’d already have almost 5,000 donors to the campaign, and 7,000 individual endorsements from Democratic and progressive activists,” said Murphy. “I’m so proud that 8 out of 10 contributions are from Connecticut residents, and that the vast majority of donations are under $250. We’re building a fundraising base that doubles as a grassroots operation.”

Murphy has demonstrated consistent and sustainable growth, building momentum through 2011 with over a thousand new contributors joining Team Murphy each quarter: Q1 – 1,594; Q2 – 1,106; Q3 – 1,023; Q4 – 1,149, for a total of 4,872.

In addition, thousands of individual Democratic and progressive activists across Connecticut have endorsed Murphy each quarter: 2,513 at the end of second quarter, growing to 5,138 at the end of the third and 7,031 total by the end of the fourth quarter.

Here is an interactive map of Murphy’s grassroots support across Connecticut:


Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Sicily And Malta, A Political Odyssey

“It’s not what you known that counts. It’s not even who you know that counts. It’s what you got on who you know that counts.” -- Sicilian saying

It may be possible that there is a Sicilian crouching in the soul of every journalist worth his ink.

My recommendation for people who travel is to allow for a bit of serendipity in their trip. Malta, for Andree and me, was the serendipitous part of our travels to Italy and beyond. Why, it may be asked, Malta?

Because of Mary from Malta, of course. We met MFM while living in Bethel Connecticut some years ago, when the world was young and Europe was not on the point of economic collapse. Mary and her husband lived next door, and Andrée and she struck up a friendship that revolved around Malta, a mystery my wife had not yet penetrated. Andrée is a voracious reader of mysteries -- and people.

When after several trips to Europe we became poorer and poorer – owing mostly to politicians on this side of the pond who do not know how the economy works – Andrée decided we ought to give Europe one more fling before it disappeared down the rat hole of history. There are some sentient beings on the planet, Mark Steyn among them, who think Europe is already a basket case. Greece has about it the foul odor of decomposition, Spain is on the edge, and Italy, where we were bound, is suffering from McCawber’s syndrome:

“Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure nineteen six, result happiness, “Mr. McCawber says to David Copperfield. “Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure twenty pounds ought and six, result misery. The blossom is blighted, the leaf is withered, the god of day goes down upon the dreary scene, and… and, in short, you are forever floored. As I am.”

As a good part of Europe is. As the United States will be if the country, as seems likely, continues on its pointless route to economic Hell in a hand basket. Prior to our trip, Italy was spending about 25% more than its income in revenue.

The faltering world economy may put an end to much European tripping. Battered by inflation, the dollar is a shadow of its former self. Europe is running out of money. China, the West’s financier, is dealing in funny money. The American president, the most profligate spendthrift in U.S. History -- not excepting President George Bush the second -- had weeks earlier sent a mild reproof China’s way: He warned that if the maximum leaders of that country did not readjust their currency to comport with reality, the United States would frown upon them.

This inconsequential threat caused the gaggle of fascists in China to laugh behind their hands at the American boobies.

The only good news on the horizon before we left was a small item in an obscure site advising that Hugo Chavez, the tyrant of once prosperous Venezuela, was down with something fatal and had but two years to live before sulfurous devils dragged him off to perdition. Mr. Chavez sought medical care in Cuba, possibly a fatal mistake, although he certainly was wealthy enough to scout out a capitalist doctor in, say, Vernon, Connecticut.

The death by bullets of Muammar Gadhafi days before we left raised our spirits briefly.

But all this is politics, and I was under orders from wife Andrée not to write about politics during the trip. I was permitted to take notes. This was to be a vacation after all. We were supposed to enjoy ourselves and avoid quibbling with Eurobots, as well as any stray vacationer we should meet in our travels, about “your Goddamed politics.” No computers, no newspapers, no political discussions, nothing, nothing, nothing before us but Virgil’s buzzing bees, Dante’s immoral Commedia and, soon to surround us, Homer’s “wine dark sea.”

Behind me, I was leaving some work that needed to be done, Connecticut’s bizarre politics, and the ubiquitous Dannel Malloy, who has had during a comparable period more face time since having been sworn in as governor than – if such a thing can be believed – the omnipresent Senator Dick Blumenthal, the former attorney general of Connecticut.

Both Mr. Blumenthal and Mr. Malloy changed their monikers once they achieved their ambitions. Dannel used to be known, while mayor of Stamford, as Dan Malloy, while the senator used to be known as Attorney General Richard Blumenthal. In time, journalists peppered by Mr. Malloy’s all too frequent press releases, may find themselves longing for the rather uneventful administration of former Governor Jodi Rell. The former governor had been criticized by the media for gaps in her calendar, during which Rell allowed herself ample time to do nothing. There are no unsightly gaps in Mr. Malloy’s crammed calendar. Mr. Malloy is Wilson rather than Coolidge. H.L Mencken compared the two, and honed in on the essential difference.

“The American people,” Menken wrote, “though they probably do not know it, really agree with Jefferson: They believe that the least government is best. Coolidge, whatever his faults otherwise, was at all events the complete antithesis of the bombastic pedagogue, Wilson. The itch to run things did not afflict him; he was content to let them run themselves… He never made inflammatory speeches. He engaged in no public combat with other statesmen. He had no ideas for the overhauling of the government… Wall Street got no lecturing from him. No bughouse professors, sweating fourth-dimensional economics, were received at the White House… The worst fodder for a president is not poppy and mandragora, but strychnine and adrenalin. We suffer most when the White House bursts with ideas. With a World Saver preceding him (I count out Harding as a mere hallucination) and a Wonder Boy following him, he begins to seem, in retrospect an extremely comfortable and even praiseworthy citizen… If the day ever comes when Jefferson’s warnings are heeded at last, and we reduce government to its simplest terms, it may very well happen that Cal’s bones, now resting inconspicuously in the Vermont granite, will come to be revered as those of a man who really did the nation some service.”

All this is high praise coming from Menken, who tends to write with hatchet in hand, and his prophesy has been borne out. The White House is now occupied by an energetic disturber of the peace, and people are beginning to long for some kind of normalcy. They won’t get it from Mr. Obama or Mr. Malloy.

Before we left, Republicans on the presidential stump were still beating each other up; President Barack Obama was lashing the Tea Party and greedy Wall Street millionaires who had contributed so generously to his campaign; CBS News reported that in Cleveland an “Occupy Cleveland” protestor told police she was raped in her tent.

The OWS (Occupy Wall Street) movement was, before we left, putting forth some exotic buds.

From the Daily Cardinal, a University of Wisconsin paper:

“A neighboring hotel's staff alleged voiced concerns about having to recently escort hotel employees to and from bus stops late at night due to inappropriate behavior, such as public masturbation, from street protesters.

“In addition, officials agreed further occupation should not be allowed to continue without restrooms on site to avoid further public health violations.

"’You can't be affecting the safety and health of other people around you,’ Madison Fire Prevention Officer Jerry McMullen said. ‘With the public health violations and the complaints I've heard, I don't believe it meets the spirit of the ordinance to a street use permit.’"
In Manchester, New Hampshire, the Union Leader reported:

“A city woman is accused of pimping a 16-year-old girl she met in Victory Park during the Occupy NH demonstrations.”

Hardy protestors in Providence Rhode Island preparing to confront an early winter storm looked to George Washington for inspiration, the Associated Press reported:

"’Everyone's been calling it our Valley Forge moment,’ said Michael McCarthy, a former Navy medic in Providence. ‘Everybody thought that George Washington couldn't possibly survive in the Northeast.’"
However, winters are neither kinder nor gentler than some police: “But the dangers of staying outdoors in some of the country's harsher climes are already becoming apparent. In Denver, two protesters were hospitalized with hypothermia this week during a storm that brought several inches of snow.”

And in New York, the epicenter of the OWS movement, the Daily News reported:

“Fights are erupting among Occupy Wall Street protesters, so much so that one corner of Zuccotti Park has emerged where protesters say they won't go for fear of their safety.”
A millionaire siting had been reported by the San Francisco Chronicle at the Occupy Oakland site:

“As Mayor Jean Quan finished fielding reporters’ questions Friday afternoon at City Hall about the clash between police and protesters earlier this week, she was suddenly drowned out by cheering coming from Frank Ogawa Plaza for Occupy Oakland’s newest celebrity guest: documentarian and political activist Michael Moore.”
While anecdotal comparisons have been made between the Tea Party movement and the anti-capitalist OWS, no reports on the Tea party movement thus far have featured frequent fights, pimping opportunities, masturbation, or millionaire anti-capitalist Palm D’Or recipient documentarians. Tea Party folk do not erect tents or stroke erections in public.

It is always well to note points of difference when one makes comparisons.

Peter Schiff, who ran in a Republican primary in Connecticut against other Republicans running against the sainted Mr. Blumenthal, invaded “Occupy Wall Street” and attempted to engage New York protestors in polite conversation. When he disclosed that he paid around 50% of his income in taxes, the crowd was aroused. How much more than 50% would be a “fair share,” he asked?

Confronting a woman who apparently thought that rich people stuffed their pillow cases with their ill-gotten gains, Mr. Schiff said he could easily sell his business for a nifty profit and retire in luxury if greed were his only motivation. But in that case, the people he employed would be out of work. This aroused the crowd. Finally when Mr. Schiff told the protestors that he employed over a hundred people in his business and asked a particularly voluble lady how many people she employed, the crowed lapsed into silence – for about 3 seconds, after which they were aroused.

The week before we set off, members of the Italian cabinet were fisticuffing each other. The south of Italy is in a bad way, the north less so, and some in the North do not wish to carry the south on their sagging shoulders. Everybody in Europe looks to salvation from Germany and dislikes Germany which, along with China, is expected to bail out Greece, the pauper of Euroland.

Here in the United States, 40% of every dollar is borrowed money, and if taxes truly are “investments,” we are overinvested in a losing proposition.

Most people who know something about the economy know that Mr. Obama knows nothing about the economy. People surrounding the president who remember their Econ 101 course have fallen silent because they already have committed themselves publically to the Obama Way.

An unusual October snow storm, a Nor’easter, visited us four days before our departure, an awesome omen. Huge branches of oak trees, their crowns still full of leaves and unable to bear the weight of the snow, are lying in my front and back yard, along with downed wires. It took me three day and much scurrying to clean up the mess. I also cleaned up the front yard of one of Andree’s friends.

Among some Italians, omens continue to matter. Shakespeare’s Cesar thought they were important, though the omens were always sifted through his outsized hubris. Others trust to God. Atheists trust to fate. Here in Connecticut, what Henry Mencken used to call the booboise trust to Democrats.


Friends who inhabit the mighty town by tawny Acragas
which crowns the citadel, caring for good deeds,
greetings; I, an immortal God, no longer mortal,
wander among you, honored by all,
adorned with holy diadems and blooming garlands.
To whatever illustrious towns I go,
I am praised by men and women, and accompanied
by thousands, who thirst for deliverance,
some ask for prophecies, and some entreat,
for remedies against all kinds of disease – Empedocles

Sicily is that part of Italy that appears on the map as if it were being booted by the boot, which is the rest of Italy, and it has always resented the impudence, first of Greece, then of Rome, and finally of the new nation of Italy, a nation younger than the United States.

Much conquered, Sicily has acquired over the years useful inner defense mechanisms. It nods to the conqueror, while giving him the finger in its pocket.

First the Phoenicians, then the Greeks, then the Carthaginians, then the Romans despoiled Sicily. Rome depended on the island for grain to feed its soldiers and increasingly imperious emperors. Sextus, the son of Pompey who was executed by the Egyptians, situated himself in Sicily following the assassination of Julius Caesar and finally brought the Roman triumvirate to favorable terms by withholding from Rome the grain crop.

The spirit of Sicily has ever been the spirit of the ancient Roman Republic, that space of time too brief between the Roman kings and the advent of the Caesars, every one of whom was deservedly roasted by Suetonius in his “Lives of the Twelve Caesars.” Suetonius, to be sure, treaded softly on the reigning emperor Hadrian and his forbearers; one does not want to bite the jewel encrusted hand that feeds one. But he let loose on many of the others, belaboring them about 200 years before Rome fell and the barbarians put an end to the empire, which resettled itself in Alexandria while Rome rotted, the plaything of soon to be Christianized barbarians.

Coming into Sicily, one is struck by the fortress-like cliffs, perpendicular to the sea. Palermo, the capital city, is sprawling. Here, as in Rome, the drivers are half mad. Later, our guide, an effervescent Daniela, will tell us that there is here, as in most countries, a north-south bifurcation. The north of Italy and Sicily is hard working, goal oriented, the south more placid.

The Valley of the Temples in Agrigento is one of the most important archeological sites in the world. Here one finds the remains of the great ancient temples of ancient Akragas: the Temple of Hera (Juno) Lacinia, Concordia, Heracles (Hercules), Olympian Zeus (Jupiter), Castor and Pollux (Dioscuri) and Hephaistos (Vulcan). Further down, on the bank of the Akragas river, near a medical spring, stood the Temple dedicated to Asklepius (Eusculapius), the god of medicine. At the mouth of the river was the harbor and emporion (trading-post) of the ancient city. The pre-socratic philosopher Empedocles was pleased to call Akraga home, and many were the moderns who sang its praises, including Goethe, Guy de Maupassant, Alexander Dumas, Anatole France, Murilo Mendes, Lawrence Durrell, E.M. Forster, Francesco Lojacono, Nicolas de Stael, Salvatore Quasimodo and Luigi Pirandello.

The best preserved of the ancient temples is Concordia, pretty much complete but for the roof, always made of perishable wood.

The temple is surrounded by a defensive wall. As Christianity arose before and after Constantine’s reign, the temples were abandoned. They became places to pasture animals or quarries used to recirculate stone, the temple blocks carried off and placed in church walls. There is an early Christian cemetery abutting the Temple of Concordia. The wall is hollowed out in several places, providing sepulchers in which Christians tucked their dead to await the resurrection. There is something more than poetic in the notion of a defense wall containing tombs in which early Christians sleep the sleep of the just, impervious to the madding world about them.

The Old World is a theatre of ruins, which is to say it is a place of lessons unlearned, a land of walls breeched and overcome.

The new Sicily is opened to all, a land of fierce cliffs, churches like fortresses atop high wind-swept hills, many of them under cultivation, honest eyed people, clusters of civilization swarming shops or sipping an espresso while talking together in a quiet plaza, all bathed in sun and surrounded by the breathing sea.

The last time we were in Spain, Andree raced down to the surf to put her foot in the Mediterranean, the font of Western civilization. Here, she was able to race on the water’s edge of both the Mediterranean and the Ionian Sea, that body of water that kisses Greece, the bottom of Italy’s boot and the Eastern portion of Sicily.

Here one finds Syracuse, one of the great city states of Magna Grecia, and the imposing Cathedral of Syracuse built by Bishop Zosimo in the 7th century over the great Temple of Athena, six columns of which still can be seen incorporated into the walls of the cathedral. In the eighth and seventh centuries BC, various crises – famine, overcrowding, and perhaps most especially the relentless search for commercial opportunities and ports -- induced the Greeks to settle in southern Italy. It was this spirit of enterprise, the piety of the Greeks and their absorbent culture that now spread outwards to Sicily and southern Italy.

It was as we were leaving Sicily for Malta that we first heard on Sky News of the fall of Silvio Berlusconi’s government. Italians are used to fallen governments, but this collapse, followed by the fall of Greece and the anticipated fall of Spain, was of a different order of things. Here were fallen countries hollowed out on the inside by a populist demand for comfort, security and ease on the cheap that no government can afford.


Malta, the home of the Knights of Saint John, is two tear drops of islands in the Mediterranean south of Sicily.

The Knights Hospitaller or the Order of Hospitallers or simply Hospitallers were founded by Blessed Gerard about 1023 and evolved into a military-hospitaller order during the first Crusade. It was chartered with the care and defense of the Holy Land, operating from Rhodes and later Malta after the re-conquest of Jerusalem by Islamic forces.

After much wandering in the world, the Knights of Malta were established when in 1530 the King of Sicily, Charles V of Spain gave to them the island of Malta, Gozo, now a part of Malta, and the port of Tripoli in perpetual fiefdom in exchange for a nominal annual fee of one Maltese falcon

The Ottomans, led at the time by the Sultan Suleiman, known in the West for sound reasons as “The Magnificent,” were not pleased at the rehabilitation of the knights, and in 1565 Suleiman sent an invasion force of about 40,000 men to besiege the 700 knights and 8,000 soldiers and expel them from Malta. Both Sicily and Malta throughout history were necessary stepping stones for conquerors of every stripe to gain access both to the Mediterranean and Western Europe.

To his own Ottoman subjects, Suleiman was known as “The Lawgiver.” The historian Lord Kinross captures the man in a brief description:

“Not only was he a great military campaigner, a man of the sword, as his father and great-grandfather had been before him. He differed from them in the extent to which he was also a man of the pen. He was a great legislator, standing out in the eyes of his people as a high-minded sovereign and a magnanimous exponent of justice.”
Then as now, Sharia law, the divine law of Islam, was unchangeable, but the law known as the Kanuns, or canonical legislation, depended entirely on Suleiman’s will. Cannon law covered large areas of social law, criminal law, land tenure, taxation and such. And it was here that Suleiman’s made his mark, First collecting all the judgments made by the nine Ottoman Sultans who proceeded him, Suleiman eliminated duplicate judgments, chose carefully between contradicting judgments, all the while taking care not to violate sacred laws, and molded all into a single legal code that enabled his growing empire to adapt to changing circumstances. In their final form, the Kanun laws became known as the kanun-i-Osmandi, the Ottoman laws operative for the next three hundred years.

In 1565, Suleiman sent to Malta an invasion force of 40,000 men to besiege and expel from Malta 700 knights and 8,000 soldiers. He had already been successful in expelling the knights from Rhodes. Suleiman’s ambition was to gain a base in Malta to launch another assault on Europe.

By August 18, the plight of the knights was becoming desperate. Expected aid from Sicily had not arrived, possibly because orders from Philip of Spain to the Viceroy of Sicily were so subtly worded as to allow the Viceroy himself to decide whether or not to commit troops to Malta. The Viceroy dallied, fearing that a committal of troops and a loss in Malta would expose Sicily to ruin, until the battle in Malta had almost been decided by the abandoned Knights. Finally, the Viceroy was forced by the indignation of his own officers to commit a modest contingent.

The final effort by the troops of Suleiman the Magnificent, a scholar of military campaigns and one of the greatest military strategist since Alexander the Great, came on August 23. Except for Fort St. Elmo, the fortifications held. But the force of the last attack was thrown back with great sacrifice. Working through the day and night, the garrison, its numbers far diminished, repaired the breeches. Even the wounded took part in the defense. On June 23, the Ottoman troops lost commander Dragut, the most skilled admiral of the Ottoman fleet. Turkish commanders neglected communications with the African Coast; they had used their massive fleet effectively on only one occasion. In crowded quarters during the summer months, Ottoman troops had fallen ill. No attempt was made to watch and intercept Sicilian reinforcements.

A final effort was made on September 1. By that time the fighting spirit of the besiegers was flagging, and the remaining troops in Mata were encouraged by the prospect of deliverance. The Ottomans first heard of the arrival of Sicilian reinforcements in Mellienha Bay. Not realizing the force sent was small, they broke off the siege and departed for home on September 8. At parting, the Hospitallers had 600 men under arms. Of the 40,000 besiegers, 15,000 returned to Constantinople. The Great Siege of Malta would be the last military action in which a force of knights won a decisive victory.

Today, Malta is a rock of stability in the Mediterranean. A comparison with Sicily is instructive.

Both countries have been besieged by conquerors over the years, in most cases the very same conquerors. Both countries are fiercely patriotic. Both Sicily and Malta suffered indiscriminant bombing by both Germans and the Allied states in World War ll – indiscriminate because civilian populations were not spared. We are familiar with the Nazi Blitzkrieg of London, but four times as much ordinance was dropped on Palermo, the capital of Sicily. Gozo, a part of Malta, had no air defenses at all during the war, and yet the island was bombed mercilessly by the German Luftwaffe – until Americans engineers placed an airbase in defenseless Gozo and American airmen started dogfighting with the Germans. Only then, did the citizens of Gozo, who had taken refuge in caves, return to their shattered homes. And many there were in Malta who lit candles in their churches for American airmen.

On April 9, 1942, a 500kg Luftwaffe bomb was dropped on the Rotunda (Church of Saint Mary) in Mosta, Gozo. The bomb pierced the church’s dome during a service when the floor of the church was crowded with people. The ordinance did not explode and no one in the church suffered the slightest injury. The dome, the fourth largest in the world, was repaired when architects refashioned a new dome around the bomb shattered old dome. Among the people at service in 1942 was a relative of one of the tour guides who spirited us through the church, then a young boy. He recalled the bomb sliding hundreds of feet across the floor, the vast hole in the dome, plaster dust filling the air, and his astonishment when the bomb, later defused and now shown to tourists who visit the scene of the miracle, came to a stop before the feet of his surprised family.

Time not only heals old wounds, it wraps them in imaginative narratives, the swaddling clothes of all art. Saint Paul’s Cathedral in the city of Mdina (pronounced M, as in the letter “M,” DINA), a Phoenician fort in 700 BC, is built on the site where governor Publius was reported to have met Saint Paul following his shipwreck off the Maltese coast.

All the buildings in Malta are made of the same limestone, organic pearly white blocks of hewn stones produced by marine life with hints of yellow and pink.

Malta confronted Europe’s most recent conqueror, self-indulgence, some twenty years ago. The country has reorganized its business products and reduced the price of labor by pairing back its entitlements. Over its battlements, it saw the enemy advancing: Italy did not. Much of Europe did not.

Here in Connecticut, Governor Malloy has just unionized day care workers. In Malta, the home of Hospitaliers, volunteers do such work at a minimal charge, if at all.

Andree and I did not meet Erik Nelson while we were in Malta. Mr. Nelson hails from Stamford, Connecticut, once the stamping grounds of Mayor of Stamford Dan Malloy. But Mr. Nelson was there somewhere. At a small eatery near our hotel that makes the best pizza in Malta – where everyone speaks English, thanks to British imperialism – he very easily could have been a customer. Two years after Napoleon conquered Malta en route to Egypt in 1798, the British fleet seized the island from the French and remained there until the islanders were granted independence in 1964.

Some of the customers in the restaurant spoke Italian, and the waitress spoke Italian. Some spoke French, and the same waitress, from Germany we discovered, spoke French. But all the waiters, all the tour guides, all the service staff at the casino (not Indian owned) near out hotel, all the small business owners in Valletta – were all conversant in English.

Mr. Nelson is a refugee from Connecticut, a research analyst at FMG USA LLC, the U.S. arm of FMG, a fund of funds specializing in emerging and frontier markets.

FMG, across the harbor from Valetta, Malta’s capitol, runs funds that invest in markets from Iraq to Mongolia. FMG recently moved its corporate headquarters to Malta from Bermuda, and the company hired Mr. Nelson to head up their new office.

The hedge fund stampede to Malta has begun, according to recent story in Bloomberg:

“In 2010, nine companies from the British Virgin Islands, seven from the Cayman Islands and six from Luxembourg switched their legal domicile to Malta, according to the MFSA.

“In addition, at least a dozen large U.K. hedge funds and funds of hedge funds have shifted part of their operations, including accounting and investor relations, to Malta.

“These include Clive Capital LLP, which has about $4 billion under management, Comac Capital LLP, which has $5.2 billion under management, the $1.2 billion commodities and energy hedge fund BlueGold Capital Management LLP and the $2.8 billion fund- of-funds company Liongate Capital Management LLP…

“As of early November, the number of funds located in Malta had grown to more than 500 with 8 billion euros ($10.7 billion) under management from 165 funds with less than 5 billion euros under management in 2006, according to the Malta Financial Services Authority, or MFSA."
Why are hedge fund workers moving to Malta from such places as Connecticut? Had they had private conversations with Mary from Malta?

When the British Empire receded, it left in its long recession a rich deposit. The English language was not the only legacy. English law was grafted onto Malta’s civil law system, as was the Western work ethic.

Andrew Frankish, the director of client relations for IDS Group, a South African fund services company that set up offices in Malta in 2010, put it this way: “They definitely work more like beer drinkers than wine drinkers.”

Islands, insular and with scarce resources, concentrate the mind wonderfully and lead to creative thinking about, let’s say, regulations.

Prime Minister Laurence Gonzi, sitting in his office at the Auberge de Castille, a palazzo that once belonged to the Knights of St. John, is dealing with a full hand. The fund industry has grown so rapidly in the last few years that he now wonders whether Malta – population 414,000 -- has financial analysts and accountants enough to handle the demand.

What accounts for the growth in business?

Malta has prepared for the upsurge. Companies in Malta pay a nominal income tax rate of 35 percent, but the taxers can be lowered to 5 percent or less for most foreign-owned corporations, and most capital gains and dividends aren’t taxed.

The Maltese have adjusted to Europe’s financial crisis. Investors, they realize, want transparency, which is why Malta requires quarterly financial statements and background checks for fund owners and directors.

Mr. Nelson, the Stamford, Connecticut replant says, “At the beginning of 2008, we started to see investor sentiment changing. Regulation, liquidity and transparency were becoming real factors in the decisions that investors were making.”

And the Prime Minister of Malta agrees: “We want to be a financial center of the highest reputation possible.”

At the same time, the government attends to its own balance sheets. It is not greedy. While the government takes in little in the way of direct taxes and maintains a low threshold of taxes, the inrush of firms now doing business on the island have boosted both employment and business spending for office space, hotel rooms restaurants and transportation.

Malta’s ambition is to boost financial services until it accounts for 25 percent of the country’s GDP by 2015. And the country is on track to meet its goal.

And Connecticut?

In Mid-January, TopRetrirements.com  published its list of “Worst States to Retire 2012,” and Connecticut had the distinction of placing first.

“1. Connecticut. We actually had a numerical tie for 1st place. CT won the tie-breaker because it has much higher property taxes, income taxes, and cost of living than Illinois. It offers no exemption for social security, and most pension income is taxable. CT had the 3rd highest tax burden of any state in 2009. The Nutmeg State does have considerable charm and some terrific places to live, if you can afford to live there.”