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The Hernandez Family and Second Chance Connecticut.

Wednesday’s conviction of former New England Patriots player Aaron Hernandez on murder charges prompted the Daily Beast to take a look at his family’s violent past. It leaves no doubt that criminal defendants in Connecticut get a lot of chances before heading for the hoosegow.

When Hernandez’s step-father, Jeffrey Cummings, was arrested for stabbing Hernandez’s mother in 2009, the Daily Beast discovered that Cummings was on probation for 18 months for assaulting a police officer. Ten months into his sentence, according to the Daily Beast, “Somehow, Cummings remained at liberty even though court records show he flunked 19 drugs tests between September 22, 2009, and June 7, 2010, positive 13 times for marijuana and six times for cocaine. He also failed to complete a court-mandated anger-management program.”

That’s many more than two chances.

 

April 16, 2015   11:56 am   No Comments

Judiciary Hearing Provides Opportunity to Shine a Light on Supreme Court Mayhem.

Throwing a smoke grenade

Chief Justice Chase Rogers appears before the legislature’s Judiciary Committee Friday for hearing on her renomination to a second term in the top job in the high court. There’ll be a lot of testimony on the court system’s guardian ad litem program, which has attracted intense criticism from a well-organized group of unhappy parents.

A broader swath of lawyers, judges and court observers will be interested in the committee probing the operation of the court under Chief Justice Rogers’ leadership. They’ll look forward to questions on the extraordinary amount of time it takes at least one member of the court to produce an opinion. Why does she continue to assign opinions to him?

Committee members will render a public service if they ask why Rogers signed on to what has become known as the notorious footnote 69 in the recent Richard Lapointe decision. That was the gratuitous insult hurled at Justice Espinosa over her dissent by the 4-member majority. They accused Justice Espinosa of dishonoring the court in her opinion.

The Lapointe decision was more than a forcefully argued decision by disagreeing justices. It revealed open warfare among the justices. What has Rogers done to restore civility to the court? What are the elements of dishonor? Maybe she will give the committee a three prong test she applies to conclude and announce that a colleague has dishonored the court in a dissenting opinion.

Compared to some of her predecessors, Rogers is a remote figure to legislators. Her most sustained effort was years of lobbying during difficult budget years for pay increases through the establishment of an anti-democratic commission. Committee members may want to ask why Rogers has presided over so many staff members earning higher salaries than judges in frontline courthouses.

Rogers could get a heaping helping of free inquiry by elected officials tomorrow.

April 9, 2015   3:14 pm   No Comments

Politico: Dodd Does Hollywood Fade.

Politico reports that Professor and former U.S. Senator Chris Dodd’s gig in Hollywood is not working out very well. Hollywood is finding Dodd miscast as the $2 million a year head of the Motion Picture Association of America, an organization that once enjoyed considerable influence in Washington. Dodd’s contract ends early next year. Don’t look for it to be renewed.

The five-term Connecticut Democrat declined to seek re-election in the face of dire polls showing him a certain loser in 2010. Politico suggests Dodd may have his eye on an ambassadorship to Ireland if Hillary Clinton becomes president. Yes, Ireland. That’s where Dodd became the sole owner of an expensive piece of real estate under dubious circumstances not long after he snagged a pardon for a friend and benefactor in the final hours of Bill Clinton’s presidency. What a confirmation hearing could await the great blusterer.

Hillary Clinton’s camp is unlikely to forget this and other moments from Dodd’s unhappy 2008 presidential bid.

 

April 9, 2015   11:44 am   No Comments

Corruption Investigations Continue. Federal Agents Return to LOB.

FBI-agents-wait-to-escort-009

Federal law enforcement agents returned to the Legislative Office Building today, Daily Ructions has learned. The agents were not as aggressively obvious as they were in their memorable 2014 questioning of Republican legislators for two days.

A federal criminal investigation of the House Republican campaign operation has cost party campaign committees ten of thousands of dollars in legal fees. Former House Republican leader Lawrence Cafero and his successor, Themis Klarides, made repeated representations that there is nothing to the investigations while trying to divert worries of their caucus members of the deluge ahead.  Many House Republicans, already dissatisfied with Klarides’s lackadaisical leadership and close ties to Democratic insiders, will be further unnerved by more feds in the LOB.

The state’s wine and spirits association will also be sobered by the news as it tries to decide on a new executive director for the organization.

March 26, 2015   4:53 pm   Comments Off

Board to Meet Wednesday to Reconsider Parole of Police Killer.

The Board of Paroles will meet Wednesday at 9 a.m. to reconsider its decision to parole Gary Castonguay, who in 1977 executed Plainville police office Robert Holcomb as he fled the scene of a burglary. The board voted after a short meeting in January to release Castonguay, who delivered a 33 second statement that was heavy on self-pity to the three-member panel.

The Board of Paroles has made a hash out of this procedure by failing to notify Officer Holcomb’s family and issuing an accurate agenda for the January meeting. The panel’s decision, for example, includes this in its rationale the background information that Castonguay shot Officer Holcomb, “4 times, allegedly while he was on the ground and helpless.” (Emphasis added.) There was no “allegedly” in the manner of execution. The evidence was presented and the jury found Castonguay was guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

The Holcomb family will be joined at the hearing by a crowd of police officers intent on offering support.

March 24, 2015   4:22 pm   Comments Off

Malloy Announcement to Unleash Laughter and Dread.

wicked witch laughing

Wounded veterans of the Washington office of CIGNA, one of Connecticut’s largest insurance companies, will be convulsed with guffaws when Governor Dannel P. Malloy announces a new insurance commissioner. The event is imminent, Daily Ructions has learned. Others, about to meet their appointment with dread, will have no reason for merriment. Their ordeal begins.

Insiders and observers will be disappointed that Malloy is opting for connections over competence. They had hoped Deputy Commissioner Dowling would get the job. She ran the department for the four years Thomas Leonardi held the title and traveled the world.

March 19, 2015   2:41 pm   Comments Off

Mahony: High Stakes Herbalife Battle Ensnares Connecticut Politicos.

The Courant’s Ed Mahony reports on a story that will not be going away soon. It includes a collection of Connecticut mercenaries recruited to do battle on behalf of a financial Pershing Square Capital Management in its battle to do down Herbalife.

One never wants to be included in a 21st century federal investigation into alleged stock manipulation. That is a complicated minefield in which acts that are routine in political campaigns violate complicated securities laws. It does not take much for swaggering political folk to run afoul of the law.

Familiar names included in the ugly story in the early going on behalf of Pershing Square include Global Strategy, Democrat Tanya Meck, former state representative Evelyn Mantilla (D-Hartford), and Republican Chris Healy. Global Strategy issued a carefully worded statement that it is not “a target” of the investigation. That’s a term of art in federal law enforcement. One is usually not notified of the dreaded target status until an investigation is reaching a crescendo.

The usually voluble Enfield Republican town committee leader Mary Ann Turner takes a quiet turn in the tale. She signed one of the letters to Attorney General George Jepsen criticizing Herbalife.

People who declined the paid solicitors’ requests to sign letters are breathing easy, though investigators may be interested in the approach taken to induce them to lend their names to the canned epistles.

Pershing’s Bill Ackman’s Friday appearance on CNBC has to have discomfited his Connecticut contingent. Ackman declined to rule out the possibility that Global Strategy and its recruits made no false statements in their efforts to damage Herbalife. Sounds like they learn what the underpinnings of a bus look like.

 

 

March 17, 2015   12:14 pm   Comments Off

UConn Alert: Herbst Mounts Attack on Alumni Association.

Avaricious University of Connecticut President Susan Herbst has embarked on a mission to destroy the university alumni association. The plan is to subsume the association and its various councils into the furtive University of Connecticut Foundation. Association leaders and members are said to be dismayed at the bulldozer moving toward them and thousands of other alumni activists.

The battle is being joined by alumni leaders who have been meeting to thwart another power grab by Herbst and her coterie of enforcers. Look for alumni leaders to deploy their troops with legislators to stop the coup. Overreach by Herbst will give momentum to the movement to place the UConn Foundation under the disinfecting sunlight of the Freedom of Information Act.

March 6, 2015   5:00 pm   Comments Off

Tesla’s Best Asset in Fight With Dealers: James T. Fleming.

Bond Villian

Much muttering in the Capitol village. Every session a few bills garner much more attention that their substance would suggest they merit. This year it’s auto dealers v. Tesla sparring over whether the subsidy and tax credit addicted electric car maker will be exempt from the automobile dealers franchise act and be able to sell their striking products directly to lucky consumers. Colin McEnroe provided some insights last week.

The auto dealers have a compelling case to make that if the state is going to have a franchise law that applies to the sale of new cars, Tesla has to operate under its requirements. Tesla, however, has made some friends in the legislature. It isn’t because the manufacturer of the fashionable car has assembled a notable homegrown team to argue its brief. The auto dealers, possessing deep ties in many communities, have hit some bumps in this contest.

The car dealers’ association, for reasons that continue to baffle observers, is headed by former state legislator and commissioner James T. Fleming, a Republican of Simsbury. He is not possessed of a soothing presence. Fleming’s leadership is making a dog’s breakfast of the auto dealers’ fightback against glamorous Tesla. The brooding, cranky Fleming is a screamer, quick to anger, often on the verge of his red face exploding. (I recall a tiresome, unfiltered potty mouth when I was in the legislature.) He is not a popular figure at the Capitol. Some veterans may recall that Fleming’s career imploded when he mounted a clumsy coup attempt against the beloved late Senate Republican Leader M. Adele Eads in 1998. Our Dell endured, Fleming left elected office. Somewhere she is nodding. Dell knew what the auto dealers are discovering to their frustration.

 

March 5, 2015   2:55 pm   Comments Off

Courant: Keep Officer Holcomb’s Killer in Jail.

A Courant editorial urges the state’s parole board to reverse its inexplicable decision to release murderer Gary Castonguay, who executed Plainville police officer Robert Holcomb in 1977.

March 3, 2015   12:00 pm   Comments Off