Tim O'Brien Live Blog

obrien102b1.jpgPlease welcome State Representative Tim O’Brien to Connecticut Local Politics!

Rep. O’Brien is a Democrat in Connecticut’s 24th House District, a resident of New Britain, and a prolific blogger. Not only does he frequently update his own blogspot blog with clear insight into the legislative process, he’s also a contributor to Connecticut’s progressive community blog, My Left Nutmeg.

Though the session is over, Rep. O’Brien is still blogging. Most recently he published the legislative report from the New Britain delegation:

“There are many ways, big and small, that we were able to help New Britain—grants enabling the city to lower property taxes, support for education, health care, job training, local arts groups and more,” said Representative Tim O’Brien. “The New Britain delegation worked hard this year, and we are ready for more important work to come.”

A couple of weeks ago, when the budget approval process went all night long, Rep. O’Brien checked in with his blog before heading home:

And, of course, I am disappointed that the important tax reforms that I voted for and that Gov. Rell vetoed were not in the budget. The result of this is that most people in the state will pay higher taxes than they would have if the Democratic budget was approved.

I am headed home now. It’s 5:05am.

Some members of the CTLP community have already posed questions for Rep. O’Brien in the comments of Genghis Conn’s announcement post (and he started answering them last night! How’s that for dedication?)

I’d like to thank Rep. O’Brien for taking the time to stop by and answer our questions and hear our concerns. My favorite thing about Tim O’Brien is that though he formally represents the 24th, he strives to represent us all (certainly all of us in New Britain). He’s an unapologetic Democrat, and so it is certain that many in this community will disagree with some of his positions, but Representative O’Brien will always hear you out and give you a fair, honest response.

So without further ado, please join Representative Tim O’Brien in the comments section!

I was asked by my friend CGG to write a brief post introducing Tim O’Brien to the CTLP community to start off tonight’s live blog conversation, and jumped at the chance. Many of you know my blog over at spazeboy.net, and the New Britain TownBlog that I maintain under the CTLP banner.

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79 responses to “Tim O'Brien Live Blog

  1. Hi everyone!

    Thank you to CGG and Genghis Conn for having me on CTLP. It is truly an honor to live blog here. And thank you very much to Spazeboy for your very kind words.

    I hope everyone is having a bit cooler day. I am looking forward to blogging with you.

    Tim O’Brien

  2. Thanks for the intro Spazeboy.

    Welcome to CTLP Tim. My question is about the now infamous legislative session, which you blogged extensively about. In your view was was the biggest accomplishment? What was the biggest failure?

  3. Thanks, again for inviting me, CGG.

    If you are asking about the pension/threat issue, that was a really hard thing to do. I did not like doing it…ask my wife. But going public with it was important. When and how to do this were a question for me, as I wrote yesterday, but it was important to get the facts out.

    As many legislators have pointed out, if this was a typical year, the advances on health care access, education funding, and a lot of other areas would have made this a really great year. On the other hand, with what was possible on health care and property tax reform compared with what was possible – and what ended up happening on electric rates – were disappointing.

  4. Thanks for coming along Rep. O’Brien!

    I want to ask you about election reform, specifically Election Day Registration. I saw what you wrote in answer to a question yesterday, so to follow up, for those of us who are advocates of EDR, and are disappointed that it never came to a vote in the house even though it seems that the votes to pass it were there, what can we do to put pressure on the Democratic leadership so that they know this is an important issue to us and they move to get it passed early enough in 2008 that it is in place for the November elections?

    Thanks,

    Gabe

  5. One if by land

    Todays Hartford Courant editorial “Gov. Rell: Reject Water ‘Rat’ — urges her to veto a bill that was introduced by the New Britain delegation.

    It would allow the city to less for gravel mine purposes watershed land — including, hard to believe, Class 1 watershed — classified as such for it’s importance for protecting drinking-water supplies.

    What, in God’s name, were you thinking???

    And, should something as important as this go forward with no public hearing?

    Should the Governor veto it? And why, or why not?

  6. Thanks, Gabe!

    I’ve been working on this issue for years – even before I was Vice-Chair in GAE. I think that the lesson we need to take from this year is that we have to put the pressure on to get issues like this brought up earlier in the session. That means that the chairs of the committee have to get the bill through all the right committees quickly, and legislators have to be asked to keep asking leadership to get it up for a vote right away.

    The last weeks of the session are where so many good bills die for bad reasons and bad things happen for…well, bad reasons. We have to get bills like this one… and especially this one, voted before the last two weeks.

  7. I have a question about your blog. Are constituents reading it? Do they use the site to communicate with you?

  8. I guess what I am asking is, how can we effectively let the leadership know that we want this one to be voted on in the first two weeks, instead of the last two?

  9. This was something that came up at the last minute with a proposition that said that it was an opportunity for the city to have $15 million of income…and that opportunity would be lost if the it was not acted on right away. After being mad as hell that neither the city nor the state Department of Public Health brought this up at the beginning of the session, we had to mull what to do about it. The first thing we did is that Rep. Tercyak and I alerted environmental advocates about it. Both of us lost a lot of sleep over this. What would the impact really be on the environment and on the neighborhood? We demanded that a lot of public hearings be added to the process, that the residents in the area be informed. Environmentalists did good work in adding even more process steps to require hearings and analysis before anything can go forward. And, if the whole thing is not done by the next regular session, the legislation sunsets, and we assured them that they would have to go through the regular legislative process.

    Should the deal go forward? That depends on the many hearings and much analysis that had to be done. And, I think the safeguards we put in the legislation are enough to ensure that.

  10. One if by land

    I meant lease the property… in my post #5

  11. Yes. And it goes through everyone’s own legislators. Leadership is not elected by the public at large. Their constituent – who they listen to – are we in the legislature. So the lobbying has to be directed at everyone’s own legislators asking them to ask leadership to get it done…and get it done in a timely manner.

  12. One if by land

    I beg to differ…. mining on Class 1 Watershed land?

    Hard to believe any enviromnet group would even consider that…..

    Can’t believe you would possibly sell out on drinking water quality for $15 million. Once contaminated, you can’t get that back…..

    Very disappointing.

  13. Gabe–

    Please don’t forget a new Senate Vacancy law providing for a special election in the case one of our aging Democratic Senators retires, has health problems, heaven forbid dies, or lo and behold becomes President, Vice-President, or joins an administration.

    Tim Johnson’s stroke should have been a wake-up call to elected Democrats everywhere. Thank goodness he is recovering, but it could have cost us control of the United States Senate!

  14. CCG: I think I have a responsibility to communicate with the people I represent the way they want to communicate with me. For some, they really like the idea of being able to passively read my reports on the websites and blog. Most people who contact me, now, do it by e-mail. So I write back by e-mail. If they write a post-mail letter, I write back via USPS. If they call, I call. And, most important of all, I like going right to their houses regularly to make sure I give them to opportunity to ask questions, etc. I think my blog is one important part of what I do to keep in touch.

  15. [quote comment=”15543″]CCG: I think I have a responsibility to communicate with the people I represent the way they want to communicate with me. For some, they really like the idea of being able to passively read my reports on the websites and blog. Most people who contact me, now, do it by e-mail. So I write back by e-mail. If they write a post-mail letter, I write back via USPS. If they call, I call. And, most important of all, I like going right to their houses regularly to make sure I give them to opportunity to ask questions, etc. I think my blog is one important part of what I do to keep in touch.[/quote]

    I guess what I’m interested to know is how many of them are even aware that your blog exists, and what they think about it? Thanks.

  16. Tim–

    Is there a tax increase you wouldn’t vote for?

    I imagine not many of your constituents have estate worth over $2 million…. or incomes of more than $150,000….

    Is it ok as long as someone else pays for it?

    Shouldn’t you , aside for looking out for your constituents, be looking at the future viability of the state as a whole?

    If it works for the movie industry (don’t tax it and they will come) maybe it would also work for business, etc.

  17. Tim–

    Thanks for joining us here. You are definitely one of the good guys up in Hartford.

    I guess I’m at a loss that the electoral reforms got passed out of committee but never made it to a full vote. You mentioned that SB 540 died in the Senate. Does this mean I blame Don Williams or Gayle Schlossberg?

    I know you aren’t leadership, but do I hope that every Democratic legislator understands the cynicism which results when no-brainer legislation doesn’t get passed when we hold veto-proof majorities in both chambers. One is left wondering if anyone cares about anything except divvying up the $36 billion dollar budget!

    Sorry to vent at you. I know you did what you could. But after last cycle, how can CT citizens not be getting a robo-call ban?

  18. I noticed you voted for in state tuition for illegal aliens.

    Isn’t the thought behind a ‘discounted’ rate for residents is that their tax dollars have been paying for the infrastructure, etc vs. an out of state (or illegal immigrant) who hasn’t, and therefore isn’t entitled to that discount?

  19. One: Don’t get me wrong. I do not mean that the environmental groups liked this. They certainly did not. However, their expertise allowed for the addition of important review steps being added to the bill. I do not disagree with your concerns, which is why the choice of which option was best for New Britain was so very hard. It may very well be that the whole deal will not happen. And if the drinking water would be negatively affected, it most certainly should not. The question of whether this will, in fact, happen has not been decided. The legislation sets up a process only. And, again, I am still livid about being put in the position of having to make this choice. The city and Department of Public Health really owe explanation about why it happened like this.

  20. Good evening Rep. O’Brien.

    What are your thoughts on how to reduce taxes and increase real income in our state?

    Thanks.

  21. [quote comment=”15545″]Tim–

    Is there a tax increase you wouldn’t vote for?

    I imagine not many of your constituents have estate worth over $2 million….

    or incomes of more than $150,000….

    Is it ok as long as someone else pays for it?

    Shouldn’t you , aside for looking out for your constituents, be looking at the future viability of the state as a whole?

    If it works for the movie industry (don’t tax it and they will come) maybe it would also work for business, etc.[/quote]

    Tim–

    Feel free to ignore the trolls. They are just here to try and make you look back, and to detract from a positive conversation.

  22. Tim,

    My question involves the pension/threat issue…if you found it to be so egregious, why didn’t you object during the vote on the floor?

  23. CTDude: I think taxes should be fair. Right now the overall system, including income, sales, excise and property taxes is regressive. People pay a higher share of their incomes the less they have. Changing that for the better is just the right thing to do.

  24. Tim–

    Early in the session Governor Rell proposed an income tax hike to help fund local education and thereby provide much needed Property Tax Relief.

    This fell flat on its face, and the tax reform measure fell apart, with House Minority Leader Larry Cafero claiming victory.

    Your take on what really happened?

  25. TrueBlueCT: I think that we mainly need to be persistent. If our ideas get knocked-down, we have to keep coming back. SB540 was placed on the foot of the calendar. That would seem to have been a leadership decision. Like I said, we need to get the votes on these issues done early.

  26. Excuse me, blue balls, I am happy Tim is here and am asking legitimate questions — admittedly not soft balls….

    I appreciate Tim answering them.

  27. CTDude: I just think that it would be wrong to deny a young person who has grown up in CT access to a higher education because of something they had no control over.

  28. Clickety_Clak

    Rep. O’Brien, so if i’m reading you correctly, then the problem in your caucus resides with Jim Amann??? Perhaps a Speaker O’Brien in the future?

    With respect to the issue with NB’s mayor—after reading the article in the Courant, it seemed as though he should be allowed to pay into his own pension. Isn’t this just a red-herring in a campaign year where your own candidate is weak and often at odds with the liberal Dem (McNamara) machine in the city? Wasn’t he your top vote getter in 2005 and got snubbed for Deputy Mayor, even after he and his wife gave impassioned speeches???

  29. CTcentrist: I think that is important to cut real waste in state government. That’s what results-based accountability of all about. Also, we need better standards in government contracting to ensure that we are really getting our money’s worth. Government should be large enough to do what we all agree needs to get done, with fair taxes to pay for it and then hard work to be efficient with the people’s money.

  30. One if by land

    Tim–

    You voted for HB 7019 — the so-called Elephant Bullhook bill.

    It seems an extraordinary amount of time was spent on this.. I prob saw Fontana/Urban have at 3 press conferences (on CT-N) on this…. really, it became a joke.

    Why did you support this in committee?

    And do you think valuable session time could have spent on other issues?

  31. [quote comment=”15558″]TrueBlueCT: I think that we mainly need to be persistent. If our ideas get knocked-down, we have to keep coming back. SB540 was placed on the foot of the calendar. That would seem to have been a leadership decision. Like I said, we need to get the votes on these issues done early.[/quote]

    I hear you. I just hope Amann and Williams understand that activists like me often care more about the big national issues than we do about state issues. EDR and a new Senate Vacancy process are vitally important to Democrats’ success at the national level, and when they are ignored or placed at the bottom of the list, it communicates something to us.

    I guess next year we’ll just have to get Howard Dean and Harry Reid to start calling our Statehouse leaders. That would be a funny one, “Hello Gayle Slossberg, Senator Reid here. Any reason why CT Dems aren’t taking care of business…. What, you need be to call both Don Williams, AND Jim Amann?… Will do…”

  32. JustShut: I discussed this in yesterday’s post, too. That’s the problem with things that get secretly rammed through. It is hard to analyze them on the fly.

  33. TrueBlue: Frankly, the governor and the Republicans worked for and got a budget with higher taxes on most people than the Democrat’s budget plan. I was disappointed.

  34. Clickety_Clak: If the mayor would like to have this proposal go through the regular legislative process, with public hearings and time to find and fix flaws to make it really work for everyone, then, perhaps yes. If it is a good idea, after a fair and open process.

    Thanks for nomination for Speaker. I’d have to think hard on that one.

  35. [quote comment=”15567″]TrueBlue: Frankly, the governor and the Republicans worked for and got a budget with higher taxes on most people than the Democrat’s budget plan. I was disappointed.[/quote]

    Tim, I hear you. The attempt to implement a progressive income tax was a good effort. Too bad it seemed to get bogged down in fighting over who got what in add’l ECS funding. It’s seemingly impossible to please everyone, coalitions fracture, and maybe we don’t get this done until we have a Democrat as governor.

    What sucks is that the property tax dilemma is inflating our housing costs, and a real damper on job growth.

  36. Rep. O’Brien,

    I seem to recall that the final budget, which you voted for, had no tax increases except for the cigarette tax. I also recall that the Dem budget raised taxes by over 1.6 billion dollars. It also increased taxes on the poor, our seniors and the dead. If you believe this budget was so bad why did you vote for it?

    O yes and I would also like to thank you for saving me a few bucks this summer by cutting the gas tax….NOT!!!!!!

  37. One if by land: I did support this. I believe in humane treatment of animals. I can say that I did not put any work into it myself.

  38. Bullhook: I was actually pretty angry that some of my colleagues were trying to make the case that the cigarette tax increase was not really a tax increase (so that they could call it a “no tax increase budget”). Of course it was a tax increase.

    All budgets have things to support and things to oppose. I had to think about the budget, as a whole. There were good things in it, to be sure. Overall, it was pretty good. Not great, but pretty good. That is why I voted for it.

  39. Clickety_Clak

    Rep. O’Brien, or can I call you Tim???, so you’re saying that ANY legislation that does not come to the floor after going through the committee process is flawed? Does that mean I can count on you, your fellow NB libs, and the rest of the Democratic caucus in the House to NEVER OFFER AN AMENDMENT FLOOR? And I guess that’s the end of e-certs too. Your affinity for the legislative process is heartwarming…you should keep that in mind when the supermajority gets it’s act together and is actually able to ram through all the liberal bills that you wanted.

  40. MightyMouse

    Rep. O’Brien- Thank you for stopping by CTLP to answer questions. Just one opinion while we have you here….I think you and the rest of the New Britain delegation (minus Betty) are a bunch of cowards. The amendment that you are lambasting Stewart over is good policy which would benefit many municipal employees and encourage more working class people to run for office. You claim that you stand for the working people when in fact you will sell them out in order to make political hay. The timing of your press release is indicative of this and makes your intentions transparent. I am confident that the people of New Britain are smart enough to see through this petty political game.

    Thanks again for stopping by.

  41. Thanks so much everyone! I really appreciate a very good discussion, with a lot of thoughtful questions from everyone. Thanks, again to CGG, Gabe and Spazeboy.

    Take care!

    Tim

  42. Clickety_Clak

    So in post 33 you were “disappointed” with the budget. In post 38, it’s now a “pretty good” budget. I find your circular logic disturbing.

  43. Thanks again to Rep. O’Brien for stopping by. We really appreciate the dialog Don’t be a stranger!

  44. Clickety_Clak and MightyMouse: I did want to take off since I see you posted while was writing.

    I am confident that we did the right thing with the pension issue. If we were politically motivated, we would have sat on this until right before the election. I did not like exposing this, but I felt I would be doing a disservice to the people if I concealed it – especially the intimidation.

    Clickety_Clak: I hope that we can get a more open process, generally. I would actually prefer that the budget, for example, not be done in secret negotiations, but in an open and public debate in the House and Senate.

    Anyway, thanks, again… Now I promised my wife dinner.

    Take care, and thanks, again to CGG, Gabe and Spazeboy!

    Tim

  45. [quote comment=”15577″]So in post 33 you were “disappointed” with the budget. In post 38, it’s now a “pretty good” budget. I find your circular logic disturbing.[/quote]

    Wow Clickety. In post 33 he was disappointed that we didn’t get progressive taxation. In post 38 he suggests the budget, a compromise, was “pretty good” or not that bad.

    You guys will attack someone on anything. No wonder politicians don’t want to visit us here.

  46. Clickety_Clak

    Wife????

  47. duchess of p0rk

    [quote post=”729″]You guys will attack someone on anything.[/quote]

    is he serious? are you serious?

  48. Hey Duchess. When Lieut. Governor Fedele was here I asked some tough but polite questions, but avoided attack mode. (So hopefully he’d come back.)

    If Cappiello shows up, I’d also be very respectful. It’s more important to me to be able to ask questions than to score cheap political points.

    That said, being humane to your criminal Party Chair is another thing altogether!

  49. I gotta say as an observer, the Lt. Gov got a much nicer treatment. People were jerks to Rep. O’Brien tonight. Go back an look at the archives. The conservatives on this site should be ashamed of themselves tonight. Courtesy and manners towards guests are a simple lessons most of us with family values learned when we were 8.

  50. for reals, what would you have had them say? O’Brien votes on everything, Fedele votes on ties in the Senate only. By the nature of his position as a Representative, O’Brien’s opinions are in the open more often than Fedele’s.

    However, for O’Brien to call our current tax system “regressive” makes me wonder if he knows what the word means, or has any idea what taxation is all about. The Connecticut income tax is progressive, not regressive, Timmy, and when coupled with the federal income tax burden, it is absurdly progressive.

  51. For example, even the more rabid lefties on this site always addressed the Lt. Gov. as just that, his title. Unlike say you,…calling a Rep. …Timmy.

    Let’s cut the crap. There are plenty of ways to ask very tough questions while being respectful. The problem concerning juvenile pot shots comes when people let their emotions override their logic. It happens quite often here from both sides. I just thought an elected official still warranted a certain level of respect. If that doesn’t fly for you then how about an invited guest?

  52. [quote post=”729″]for O’Brien to call our current tax system “regressive” makes me wonder if he knows what the word means, or has any idea what taxation is all about. The Connecticut income tax is progressive, not regressive[/quote]

    My emphasis added.

  53. I agree with you, Gabe. His answer to my tax question was a little puzzling, as our income tax is progressive. But Rep. O’Brien does get full credit for hanging around and answering as many questions as he did. I hope he stops by again, soon.

  54. [quote comment=”15562″]CTcentrist: I think that is important to cut real waste in state government. That’s what results-based accountability of all about. Also, we need better standards in government contracting to ensure that we are really getting our money’s worth. Government should be large enough to do what we all agree needs to get done, with fair taxes to pay for it and then hard work to be efficient with the people’s money.[/quote]

    This demonstrates REP. TIM OBRIEN thinks CT government is not big enough. The largest employer in the state is CT government, we don’t need more government jobs. LT Gov Fedele’s effort to brings European companies to CT is a way to go. Businesses in Europe pay more than 25% in taxes and CT its less than 10%.

    REP. TIM OBRIEN answer indicates a gov’t is the solution mentality that is a paradox because gov’t will only increase with that reliance.

  55. [quote comment=”15540″]

    Tim Johnson’s stroke should have been a wake-up call to elected Democrats everywhere. Thank goodness he is recovering, but it could have cost us control of the United States Senate![/quote]

    Even if two or three seats switch from D to R, Democrats would still control the chamber. The only reason it went from R to D when Jeffords jumped was that when that congress convened after being inaugurated on January 3, Al Gore was still VP (until Jan 20), and could thus break ties. So that Senate – and that Senate only – had a provision that said if a Republican jumps to the other side, control would shift. The Republicans went along with that to get something else, I forget what. When this senate convened, Dems were 51-49 so didn’t have to compromise on that.

    From a tactical perspective, I can’t why you’d want your party to have control of the Senate with just one or two vote margins. It’s almost impossible to get anything done with such a small majority, because the minority can filibuster and put up all sorts of other obstructions. And you almost always have a few Senators going against their party. But your party looks bad because you cannot control anything. I guess subpoena power is worth something, but if you already have the house, it’s not that necessary. Obviously, if you are a Senate staffer, control matters.

    If Republicans held the Senate now 50-50 or 51-49, can you imagine how much the Democrats would be calling the Republican senate obstructionists? The House would probably pass a lot more “progressive” bills so the Senate could kill them, but they don’t want to do that now that Democrats have “control” of the Senate.

  56. great point gmr

  57. wtf, gmr. One, if a Senate vacancy occurs, I’d like the people and not Empress Rell to decide on a replacement. I think it’s called “democracy”.

    And the Republicans in the Senate are thwarting democracy via the filibuster, and would be, regardless of whether it was 51-49, or 53-47.

  58. TrueBlue: the only reason you want to move the interim appointment of a Senator from the Governor to the legislature is because of which party controls each. Don’t make it sound like you’re fighting for democracy. It’s pure partisanship. I don’t begrudge you for it, but would you object if other states that had a Republican legislature and Democrat governor tried it?

    Most states — but not all — have the governor decide. The governor is elected by the people. The governor gets to select a lot of people for a lot of different jobs. Senator is one if a sitting Senator dies or resigns. The interim Senator can stay only until the next election.

    Second, you don’t thwart democracy by using the filibuster. The Democrats often used the filibuster between 2002 and 2006 (particularly with judicial nominees), and Republicans have made great use of it as well. It’s part of the Senate rules. It’s no more a thwart of democracy than the fact that you need 2/3 and not 1/2 of the votes in each chamber to override a veto. Or that 3/4 of the states are required to ratify an amendment to the constitution.

  59. Oh, so GOP Senate members aren’t thwarting the majority will of the people? 2006 happened, the people spoke, and you guys want to block an end to the war and an increase of the minimum wage?

    This from the same party that cried for two years about Daischle’s Obstructionism!

  60. So, TBCT, are you conceeding that Daischle was an obstructionist and “thwarting democracy” when he and the rest of the senate democrats filibustered judicial nominees? After all, Bush won the 2004 election, so, clearly by your logic, the American people spoke and the democrats in the senate stood in the way. Sounds pretty anti-democratic to me. Will you call it that?

  61. TrueBlueCT, as we have pointed out many times before, if the Democrats in Congress really and truly wanted to end the war, they could do so by pulling the plug on funding — but they don’t have the will.

    Also, just so you know, increasing the minimum wage always leads to a decrease in employment AND a decrease in real economic output. Is THAT what you really want?

  62. No, what I want is crazy-ass Republicans publicly advocating against minimum wages. Thank you!

    Len–
    One of the times I think the filibuster is warrented is during judicial appointments. When it comes to the Supreme Court America should be bi-partisan and fiercely ideological judges like Sam Alito should be avoided at all costs.

    And no, I don’t mean to whine about the use of the filibuster. It’s part of the Senate. But it is ironic how quickly your side went from crying, “Obstructionism” at every turn, to now being so absolutely partisan against the Democratic majority.

  63. You don’t agree with me centrist, and I wasn’t agreeing with Jack Dobb – I was pointing out that there is a difference between the tax structure that Rep. O’brien was talking about (includes sales tax, property tax, sin taxes, etc.) and the income tax mentioned above (only includes the income tax).

    Comparing them is comparing apples and a fruit basket.

  64. [quote post=”729″]One of the times I think the filibuster is warrented is during judicial appointments. When it comes to the Supreme Court America should be bi-partisan and fiercely ideological judges like Sam Alito should be avoided at all costs.

    [/quote]

    TBCT, just out of curiosity, would you consider the former head of the ACLU, Ruth Ginsburg to be “fiercely partisan,” a la Sam Alito?

    It also seems very convenient that you find democratic filibustering last term acceptable because it was for something you consider important, but that republicans filibustering this term are “twarting democracy.” I hate to dig up your definition of a winger again, but this seems to fit:

    “Yep, you’re a ‘winger. That’s my term for folks who put blind partisan loyalty before rational, independent thought.”

  65. No Len–

    I remember a time, when on the important decisions the rulings were always 9-0, and not the awkward 5-4 decisions we see nowadays.

    Bush threw a sop to the Fundies by appointing Alito and Roberts. But it wasn’t healthy for the country. Like Iraq, it will be part of his lasting legacy. A President unable to stand up to extremists.

  66. Ichabod Crane

    [quote comment=”15540″]Gabe–

    Please don’t forget a new Senate Vacancy law providing for a special election in the case one of our aging Democratic Senators retires, has health problems, heaven forbid dies, or lo and behold becomes President, Vice-President, or joins an administration.

    Tim Johnson’s stroke should have been a wake-up call to elected Democrats everywhere. Thank goodness he is recovering, but it could have cost us control of the United States Senate![/quote]
    LOL And you call everyone else on this site a “winger.”

    You want to change a long-standing tradition for partisan gain. Can’t get much more “winger” than that. LOL.

  67. Um, ‘winger is meant for blind partisans. Like those who gleefully repeat “no underlying crime”.

    I’m a Democrat, and I’ve never pretended otherwise, but I don’t kiss anyone’s ring, and I try to think for myself.

    And the “tradition” that you reference dates back to a time when US Senators weren’t popularly elected. So yeah, I think it’s time to join other states in changing the law.

  68. [quote comment=”15615″]No Len–

    I remember a time, when on the important decisions the rulings were always 9-0, and not the awkward 5-4 decisions we see nowadays.

    Bush threw a sop to the Fundies by appointing Alito and Roberts. But it wasn’t healthy for the country. Like Iraq, it will be part of his lasting legacy. A President unable to stand up to extremists.[/quote]

    Wait, I don’t really get what your point is about the 9-0 decisions. Are you saying the conservatives on the court should step in line with the liberal minority to make a unanimous statement on something they fundamentally disagree with? And are you also saying the liberals should do the same? I really don’t understand what you are saying.

    Also, I couldn’t decifer out of that response whether you thought that the appointment of Ruth Ginsburg was reasonable under your standard that “fiercely ideological judges” should not be appointed?

  69. [quote comment=”15615″]I remember a time, when on the important decisions the rulings were always 9-0, and not the awkward 5-4 decisions we see nowadays.

    Bush threw a sop to the Fundies by appointing Alito and Roberts. But it wasn’t healthy for the country. Like Iraq, it will be part of his lasting legacy. A President unable to stand up to extremists.[/quote]

    So, are you saying that Stevens, Souter, Ginsburg, Breyer, J.’s should have joined the majority in upholding the partial birth abortion ban? I think so too.

  70. TBCT,

    Are you ignoring me? I am really interested in your answer to the 9-0 vs. 5-4 question.

  71. Um, what’s wrong with a court filled with moderates such as Souter, Kennedy, and O’Connor?

    The court would always turn to compromise back in the days, that is before the GOP decided to use the court’s composition as a campaign issue.

  72. [quote post=”729″]If you are asking about the pension/threat issue, that was a really hard thing to do. I did not like doing it…ask my wife. But going public with it was important. [/quote]

    Tim-

    If going public was so important, why did you wait a month to do it? Common sense and freedom of speech would dictate that you could have come forward with your opposition to this legislation a day or two after it passed, even if you weren’t aware of it on the day you voted for it.

  73. StickyRice: You asked this question at MLN. Here is what I wrote:

    When we exposed what he did wrong, they have grasped for anything to deflect from the real issue – in this case, the timing.

    The truth is that we did not know exactly what to do about what Stewart had done. That is why I have been consulting with attorneys about it. We knew, all along, that the response from Stewart would be to deny – which he has – and to shake it off as “just political”. So it was important to release this matter to the public at a time that was not the heat of the end of session, and to have our facts straight when we did. We had still been contemplating that when Stewart made his comments.

    In the end it was Stewart, himself, who chose the timing, of course, because we could not allow his false statements in the newspaper to stand.

    The truth is that it would have been better if the real culpable one, Stewart, came forward with his own actions, or at least that he did not react to public exposure of what he did with more deceit. I would have preferred that instead of having to agonize over when and how to say what we knew were serious things to say about another public official.

    But the public has a right to know, so it was important for us to expose the truth.

  74. Tim

    I am not asking you about the situation involving Stewart and the firefighters. I am asking you, if this legislation was so bad, why didn’t you say something about it a month earlier? The only possible explanations are that you a) weren’t paying close enough attention in the House when it was brought up for a vote, or b) you didn’t have a problem with it when it came up in the House (if you did oppose it, I imagine you would have registered your opposition somehow).

  75. StickyRice: The whole issue is about Stewart’s use of threats to get legislation that could benefit him personally.

    In answer to your question, this is the problem is with these kind of legislative “rats”. We did not have the time to analyze and react to it before it sailed through, at first, in the House.

    If this amendment was such a good idea, then why did they try to ram it through in secret and at the last minute like this? How can we believe that it is all OK if they tried to get it done this way? They still have never answered this. This was enough reason to say that this amendment should not be approved – at least not this way. When the Senate looked at it, they rejected it and the House concurred – at which point I voted against the amendment.

    As I said before, though, Stewart’s threats to get legislation that could benefit him personally is the issue here. It is a serious issue, and I am glad that we were not precipitous in reacting to it, but, instead, took the time when we could calmly state the facts as they are.

  76. Thanks for your answer, Tim. I just think your statements are a little bit in conflict with each other. In your press release you say that the reason you came forward with this information is:

    [quote post=”729″]However, because Stewart has referred to people as “liars” when revelations where made of his involvement in an effort to provide him with a special pension benefit, the record must be set straight. [/quote]

    Now you say that the reason it took you so long to come forward is:

    [quote post=”729″]The truth is that we did not know exactly what to do about what Stewart had done. That is why I have been consulting with attorneys about it.[/quote]

    You have two vastly different reasons for waiting so long to come forward: one is that he called you liars and only then did you feel compelled to respond and the other is that you were consulting with attorneys about whether to make a public statement about his so-called threats.

    I know that this is the rough and tumble world of New Britain politics, but all I am saying is it would probably be a good idea to stick to one story instead of having several different iterations of it, that’s all.

  77. I appreciate you taking the time to discuss this issue with me StickyRice. Obviously I simply cannot agree with your line of reasoning.

    The fact remains that Mayor Stewart did wrong, and we were right to call him out on it. I know that he and his supporters would like to craft ways to deflect blame back upon those who exposed him. But, the mayor and those who aided him still need to explain why they tried to ram through this special deal for Stewart and Stewart still needs to apologize to the city fire fighters for using the threat to harm them to get a deal for himself.

  78. Tim

    Isn the reason you came forward because he called you liars or because you truly feel that some injustice was done? Once again, your rationale as stated directly in your press release, says:

    [quote post=”729″]…because Stewart has referred to people as “liars” when revelations where made of his involvement in an effort to provide him with a special pension benefit, the record must be set straight. [/quote]

    If you misstated it in your release, then just say that. A simple question deserves a simple answer, not a long list of excuses.

  79. StickyRice: An injustice was done. Mayor Stewart made threats to get legislation approved that could benefit him personally. That was why we reported it to the public. And, as I said before, his lie in the newspaper affected our timing of the release, since the public deserves to know that his initial account was not the truth. Here is what I said when you first asked me this question:

    In the end it was Stewart, himself, who chose the timing, of course, because we could not allow his false statements in the newspaper to stand.

    So, the answer to your question is that both are true. We told the public about the mayor’s misbehavior at the Capitol because they have a right to know, and we released it when we did because the public deserved to know that his lies about it were not true. I have been very fair and truthful in my answers, here, as well as about in the statements I have made about the mayor.

    And, again, the real issue is that Stewart made threats to get legislation that could benefit him personally, and has since been using deception and excuses to cover for what he did, rather than coming clean and apologizing.

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