Berlin, Berlin Connecticut, Connecticut, Kensington Connecticut

$180000 of Berlin and Connecticut tax dollars to be spent on handicapped-accessible walking trails in Berlin

$30,000 of tax dollars from Berlin taxpayers and $150,000 from Connecticut taxpayers for handicapped walking trails at the old Pistol Creek Golf Course?!

Berlin’s Economic Development Coordinator, Jim Mahoney, thinks “this area is important”: “These will be the first handicapped-accessible trails” in Berlin. Was Jim Mahoney also involved in the Town Center grant, installing a median and changing the parking there?

So if, God forbid, a handicapped individual suffers an accident on these public trails–claiming the grade was too steep or there was no railing along a cliff–will Berlin get sued for millions of dollars?

Are all of you in favor of spending $180,000 of Berlin and Connecticut tax dollars on walking trails and making them handicapped compliant?

Is this the kind of economic development that we are paying Berlin’s Economic Development Coordinator to bring to Berlin, Connecticut? Is this the kind of economic development that will increase Berlin’s tax base?

Hey, Jim, how about bringing in another major grocery store to compete with Stop & Shop? I can’t afford to pay $10.99/lb. for Turkey breast.

Berlin, Berlin Connecticut, Connecticut, Kensington Connecticut, Uncategorized

Does Joe Aresimowicz put his constituents in the 30th Connecticut House District first or public employee unions first?

Joe Aresimowicz: He just said A to Z because he didn’t want to try Aresimowicz, and I’m glad he didn’t so.

First and foremost, good afternoon, brothers and sisters. How are we going today, alright? I always start this off, yes I do have a position as House Majority Leader and the State Representative from Berlin and Southington. And I am really proud of that, and I have a great job, and I’m able to help people in my district on a daily basis and also help people statewide.

But more importantly I’m a twenty-three year member and dues-paying member of AFSCME, which leaves me almost ready to retire, including time if I would add this duty which I worked at directly to protect your rights. That’s the most important aspect of my career. I would give up the political side of it in a minute and keep working to protect union members rights on a daily basis in the State of Connecticut. So that’s why I always agree with the brothers and sisters, and we talked about that.

Now I know some of you have seen a video tape of me cruising around on the internet. No, not that kind. The one from the Wisconsin presentation that we did in Middletown. I don’t know how many you know the story so I am going to boil it down a little bit for you here today. But I think we need to talk about it. Because I went to Wisconsin right after Governor Walker was elected. I went out there when the bill was cruising its way through their General Assembly thinking what can I do. On my own time I went out there and started knocking on doors.

I spent a long time in the Capitol. One of the days that I was there it was announced either a quarter of a million to a half a million people circling outside the capitol and also inside the capitol. For me being a life-long union member, and as my cousin can tell you that my father was fired for trying to organize a union. So that’s all I’ve ever known. It was probably one of the most powerful moments in my life, and you know, you get the little bumps on the back of your neck, your hair standing up, we’re chanting, we’re caring signs: I thought we were taking over the capitol.

So I straddled up to this gentleman, he was wearing a red shirt that said Wisconsin educator, so it was either college or school, and he started talking about what we were doing there. And I said, “Brother, this is the greatest moment I have ever been involved in my life. We finally said as union members, enough is enough: we’re not going to take it anymore.” And the guy looked over at me and said where are you from, and I said from Connecticut. I am AFSCME member. Well, AFSCME member from Connecticut, the fight we already lost. We’re not rallying because we’re pissed off. But when we could have avoided it in April, May, June, July, August, September, October, and I was begging all of my members to get actively involved in this campaign, because I told them all what was at risk, I heard every story in the world. I heard that my son’s got a ball game. My aunt’s sick. My grandmother has this. So Mr. AFSCME from Connecticut, thanks a lot coming out but my members gave away their rights, and they did it in the months leading up to the election.

So what I thought was a great moment actually kind of humbled me a little bit. So one of the things that I swore to myself was that I was not I’m going to let it happen here in Connecticut. That at least I would do as many tours of this statem including Middletown, CSEA Locals, AFSCME, CEUI, anybody I could talk to, to ensure that that would never happen in Connecticut.

Now come April May June July August of this year, if I told you with 18 days to go it was a dead heat, that our rights were quite possibly going to be protected for the next four years, at least, I think you would take that bet. I think you would look at yourself in the mirror and say, sure because right now it doesn’t look that way because the Governor’s office is in jeopardy, the Senate was in jeopardy, and even my chamber, the House: we’re looking at possibly losing seats.

You guys have one of your own that sits in the caucus room of the General Assembly. You cannot replicate that. The reason I originally ran for office is Dennis O’Neil begged me to run for office because too many times the door closes on that Caucus. And even the smiles and the claps on your back, “don’t worry, we got your back.” And that door closes and somehow you come out and your back doesn’t feel so comfortable anymore. And maybe they went a little lower in your back. And that’s reality.

So you’ve Russ over there in Wethersfield that is one of your members, that when the negotiations are tough, when you’re on the menu instead of being at the table, he’s there to ensure that he is that back stop. He’s in a tough race. Eighteen days to go, if half of this room goes out and door knocks his district, he wins by a landslide. And talks to the members about the issues that are important to you.

Same thing for the Gubernatorial race. Eighteen days, eighteen days to decide whether you keep your collective bargaining rights because as much as he says he was talking about chambers and agreeing, we know exactly what Tom Foley wants: his Wisconsin moment. And if you really don’t believe it, come with me the rest of the day, I’ll hang out and talk to you, all the little articles I’ve seen, all the things he said, a lie, he really means that.

We want collective bargaining and not collective begging. Eighteen days. Please don’t let me stand up outside the Connecticut capitol and have the same conversation with an individual this time with a Connecticut t-shirt on. I’m talking about how nobody turned up, and how this moment didn’t necessarily have to happen. The last thing we need is a Wisconsin moment in Connecticut. Absolute last thing. I say at all these meetings and groups that I talk to I will never allow an anti-collective bargaining bill to be called to the House floor. I’m the Majority Leader. I can make that guarantee.

If I’m the Minority Leader, not so much. All I can do is I’ll talk as long as I can to avoid them running that bill. So a lot of things are at stake. You know, I know you’ve been hearing it at night and I know at some point we say enough is enough. The numbers of the polls look better, the House will be okay, the Senate is going to be okay, the gubernatorial is a tossup.

I beg of you, I begged, I begged, and I beg again: please don’t allow us to wake up on November 5th, open up your newspaper and realize that because we needed to do what we needed to do in eighteen days, we’re now having to take to the streets. We’re now having to rally at the capitol. There’s a lot at stake. I beg you to get involved in Russ’s campaign, call up your local committees who are working the phones. Get out and get to work. It’s eighteen days to ensure we have benefits for the near future.

You guys have a great evening, proud members, you made this state what it is. Don’t let it go away with one election. Please stand together, stand as brothers and sisters, and be a family and make sure we are looking out for our own. Thank you.

Berlin, Berlin Connecticut, Connecticut, Kensington Connecticut, Uncategorized

Anne Reilly raises questions regarding Berlin’s Board of Education urging more transparency and accountability

13012717_10207211819267637_1546177010943021041_n-1In a Letter to the Editor, Anne Reilly raised questions regarding Berlin’s Board of Education. Democrats have been objecting to the BOE becoming partisan under the new Charter; however, Anne observed that the Superintendent of Schools and other administrators donated to Berlin’s Democratic Town Committee, and that many BOE members were members of the Democratic Town Committee, suggesting such constituted partisanship.

In addition, she observed that historically the votes on the BOE have been largely 9-0 in agreement, with some votes after private, closed door discussions as opposed to public discussions.

Annie also was critical of the BOE keeping secret a BOE report regarding its defense of a former BOE Chairman, costing $100,000 in legal fees.

Isn’t it somewhat disingenuous, hypocritical, and insulting to taxpayers for one to claim that the BOE has been nonpartisan?

Below is a transcript of her letter as it appeared in the Berlin Citizen, October 20th, 2016.

More transparency, accountability

To the editor:

During last November’s town election, the Republican candidates pledged to create a Charter Revision Commission to review areas of our Town Charter, including greater input on town budgets and a reformed Board of Education.

I am thankful to the commission members. I find it sad that Democrats who appointed their members to the commission now reject every proposal which their own members passed.

The commission made its best effort to be fair and nonpartisan as it grappled with key issues. It is telling that nearly all their key issues received unanimous support. Many residents feel these changes will make the town more accountable and more transparent to the residents.

Why is this needed? Did you know that the Berlin Board of Education has spent almost $100,000 on legal fees to keep secret a report concerning intimidation charges made by a coach against former BOE Chairman Gary Brochu? Why has the board supported Mr. Brochu when the coach was trying to do his job?

Did you know that the superintendent and other administrators donate to the Berlin Democratic Town Committee even though he doesn’t live in town? Isn’t the BOE supposed to be nonpartisan? Many former and current BOE members are also members of the Democrat Town Committee.

Why does the BOE feel it is necessary to have discussions in private and the votes in public? Why are all votes 9-0? Why do they not allow other opinions to be voiced publicly? This does not sound like a school system that supports and teaches respect and diversity.

With the charter amendments, there will be a healthy debate of the issues decided in open session. Neither party can have a “super-majority” on Town Council. This will lead to compromise and communication across party lines.

Please vote “yes” on the five questions for transparency and accountability.

Anne Reilly

Berlin, Berlin Connecticut, Connecticut, Kensington Connecticut, Uncategorized

Berlin High School football recruiting scandal cost Berlin Connecticut taxpayers tens of thousands of dollars


Dennis House: The Berlin High School football recruiting scandal continues tonight. Eyewitness News has learned it cost you the taxpayer tens of thousands of dollars. Eyewitness News reporter Matthew Campbell is live at Veterans Memorial Stadium in New Britain where the rivalry between Berlin and New Britain is about to go down.

Matthew Campbell: The game’s gonna kick in about an hour or so and let me tell you the bad blood will be boiling over between New Britain and Berlin. Take a look behind me as the band just actually came into the stadium. There’s two separate entrances: one for New Britain and one for the Berlin fans as well.

And extra security has been added here all after this recruiting scandal that was uncovered by New Britain. Now if it wasn’t uncovered, taxpayers in Berlin would continue paying for players that didn’t live there.

As another chapter in the annual wishbone rivalry is about to be written, an asterisk will forever be placed to this year’s game after the CIAC Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference discovered Berlin was recruiting players from New Britain.

Stephanie Santa: “…I feel very sorry for these boys because they were given something and then it was taken away.”

Matthew Campbell: The four ineligible players from New Britain were taking away spots on the field and seats in the classroom that were always intended for kids from Berlin.

Carol Argazzi: “…weren’t able maybe to have a position on the team because somebody else unfairly took it from them.”

Matthew Campbell: The CIAC handed down punishments this week. The four players from New Britain are banned from ever playing again. Berlin head coach John Capodice suspended by the district. But the scandal goes far beyond the gridiron. It hits taxpayers in their wallets.

Dr. Karissa Niehoff: “Each district is a little bit different but it for a family to come in and take advantage of another school’s resources like that, you know, if you do it for multiple years, you’re talking a lot of money.”

Matthew Campbell: In Berlin the superintendent confirms that each high school student cost taxpayers $14,982 a year. In these four cases that’s money that was being spent on New Britain kids seemingly just to gain an edge here on the field.

Stephanie Santa: “I feel pretty robbed.”

Matthew Campbell: Taxpayers will foot another bill. The CIAC fined Berlin $4,000: a thousand for each violation. The team also had to vacate all wins. So the majority of players, all of whom are innocent, have no shot at the playoffs.

Stephanie Santa: “I feel really bad for the football players because they’ve worked really, you know, from Berlin, well all of them, but they’ve worked really hard for these wins and those were also taken away.”

Matthew Campbell: A live look here at Veterans Memorial as this game will kick in about an hour. And this game will be played for pride. Roaming the sidelines for Berlin will be assistant coach Rob Levesque. The long-term future for Coach Capodice: that’s still unknown.

That’s the latest live here with the mobile newsroom in New Britain.

Berlin, Berlin Connecticut, Connecticut, Kensington Connecticut

Berlin High School football team found to have violated CIAC rules. If true, who is responsible?

The Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference Board of Control (CIAC) came down hard on the Berlin High School football program Wednesday after an investigation into recruiting and residency violations. The sanctions include forfeiting all seven victories, prohibition from state championship competition this season and probation for one year. The school also was fined $4,000, $1,000 for each of four ineligible players.

Who will pay the $4,000 penalty and the cost of the investigation?  Who has been paying the additional cost of educating these four nonresident students when the average annual education cost per student is as much as $15,000 per year?

The taxpayers of Berlin deserve a thorough outside investigation. The Berlin Board of Education should not select the investigators; rather, the Berlin Town Council should select the investigators since the Berlin Board of Education should be included in the scope of the investigation.

All those charged with the responsibility of ensuring that all students in Berlin schools are residents of Berlin should be held accountable.

Berlin, Berlin Connecticut, Connecticut, Kensington Connecticut, Uncategorized

Berlin Connecticut needs candidates from a third political party to stop the strict partisan voting on the Town Council

522156_397391523604538_1693998518_n-506x400There are approximately 5,000 unaffiliated registered voters in Berlin, Connecticut in comparison to approximately 4,000 Democratic voters and 3,000 Republican voters.  There must be reasons why voters did not register with either of the two major political parties.

Perhaps one of the reasons so many voters registered as unaffiliated was because of their disgust with major political parties.  At the national level, our government has encountered gridlock on many important issues, leaving serious problems unresolved.  Immigration, tax reform, money in politics, unfair trade agreements, invasion of privacy, are just some of the issues that a majority of American voters want addressed in this country.

On the Town Council in Berlin, Connecticut, we have witnessed voting by members on key important financial matters along strict party lines even though each election cycle we have been assured that they would reach across the aisle to work with those who belong to a different political party.  The result, in my opinion, has been the party in power succeeding in promoting its party’s economic agenda, whether it be in the best interests of the citizens of Berlin.

Results of referendums have been largely ignored, if not dismissed entirely.  Taxes this year have increased 4.7% over those of the previous year even though real disposable income of the majority of Berlin residents have not been increasing.  Businesses have closed while it has been rumored that some new businesses have shunned Berlin, going to adjacent towns.  Even some residents have voiced concerns over fear of being targeted by employees of the Town of Berlin, Connecticut.  Do you recall the Berlin coaches who feared coming forward publicly to address their concerns with the Town’s School Board?

Are special interests controlling our two major political parties?  Are small cliques of our citizens—who lead and/or control these two political parties—attempting to benefit from these two major political parties?   Do governmental unions control one political party in Town?  Do certain individuals control the other political party in Town, preventing the free expression of views and participation of all of its members?

If Berlin citizens support and vote for individuals running as independent candidates, perhaps we can change the political climate on our Town Council.  For instance, if three Democrats and three Republicans need the vote of the independent candidate on the Town Council, perhaps then control of our Town can be wrested from the dominance of any one political party, which would ordinarily be in control of the Town Council by the mere fact that seven members serve on it.

Let’s consider electing an independent, unaffiliated voter to represent the majority of citizens living in the Town of Berlin.  If you are interested in supporting this proposal, forming a committee to nominate a candidate, petitioning citizens to place an independent candidate on the ballot, or running for office on the Town Council in Berlin, please contact us:

Thank you.

Berlin, Berlin Connecticut, Connecticut, Kensington Connecticut, Uncategorized

Let the spin begin

William Rasmussen

William Rasmussen, Deputy Mayor of Berlin, Connecticut

Letter to the Editor, published June 8, 2015, The Berlin Citizen

“Deputy Mayor Bill Rasmussen, almost certainly nervous about November’s municipal elections, needed an early start in spinning the excuse(s) why he and his comrades disrespected your referendum vote, yet again. Even though this budget, along with many others, was overwhelmingly voted down, as usual, the liberal Town Council-majority did as they pleased. Astonishingly, their decision was not to return to the original agreed upon $790,000 reduction of over a $1 million tax increase. Instead Rasmussen and cohorts were influenced by attendees of a sparsely attended budget hearing, disregarding the more than 900 people that voted “no” and thought the budget was too high.

In his cautiously-worded Op-Ed, Rasmussen neglected to reveal that this year’s 1.43 mill rate increase will cost you an additional $300 in taxes based on a home assessed at $200,000. This latest increase adds to a decade’s worth of “cup of coffee a day” tax increases, which now equal thousands more in taxes for you to pay up each July.

Doesn’t Rasmussen understand a continually-rising mill rate is one of the major deterrents to economic development and families fleeing town, resulting in a reduction to the grand list which has already occurred? Most informed citizens know this. Yet Rasmussen continues to argue for a higher tax because a lower tax increase would have resulted in the delay and completion of projects. Does this mean he needs more of your cash to cover the bungled BHS project that is more than $10 million over budget?

After years of ignoring your votes, decade’s worth of tax increases, and mismanaged projects haven’t you been snubbed enough? For the town’s sake, do not give Rachel Rochette, Bill Rasmussen, Margaret Morelli, and Peter Rosso another majority this November. Change is desperately needed, and it is up to you.”

Scott Veley

Former Deputy Mayor – Berlin