NB Politicus

Stewart Penalized For Using Taxpayer Mailing To Boost Her 2017 Re-election Campaign

Posted in Campaign Finance, city politics and government, New Britain Republicans by nbpoliticus on December 1, 2018

Mayor Erin Stewart violated state campaign law by promoting her candidacy through an official mailing of tax bills to city residents during the 2017 municipal campaign, according to a ruling by the State Elections Enforcement Commission (SEEC).

The SEEC, at its November 14th meeting, fined Mayor Stewart $500, citing a violation under state law (9-610) that prohibits incumbents “during the three months preceding an election in which (she) is a candidate for reelection or election to another office” from using “public funds to mail or print flyers or other promotional materials intended to bring about his (or her) election or reelection.”

Using her campaign slogan “Leading The Way” in the taxpayer-funded brochure, Stewart cited saving the city from fiscal ruin, good bond ratings, reorganizing city hall departments “to find efficiencies and improve customer service and “a continuous commitment to provide our teachers and our children with the proper tools for learning and exploring.”  The official message was a carbon copy of what could be found at the time on Stewart’s campaign website.  The mailing with the brochure was sent by Tax Collector Cheryl Blogoslawski’s office and paid for by the city. Although the mailer came directly from the Tax Collector’s office, Ms. Blogoslawski was absolved of any wrongdoing by the commission.

During the SEEC inquiry Mayor Stewart, through an attorney, defended her use of the mailing at the height of the municipal election season. “The pamphlet is issued annually and is sent in the same envelope with our property tax bills. Given the lack of a timely issued state budget and the commensurate uncertainty surrounding final municipal aid (and, therefore, our tax rate), New Britain joined many other municipalities across Connecticut in electing to post the property tax bills later than normal this fiscal year,” Stewart argued. She contended that the “message from the Mayor to taxpayers” and “a section discussing progress made by the City in numerous areas” contained “nothing of a political nature.”  The mailing at issue was first reported in September 2017 in an NBPoliticus post  and in a story published by The New Britain Progressive

Rejecting the Mayor’s argument on a complaint brought by Democratic Town Chair Bill Shortell,  the SEEC found that Stewart’s “message from the Mayor” and the citing of New Britain’s accomplishments “are irrelevant to the tax bill and therefore their inclusion in the mailer is violative of 9-610. The Commission finds that the mailer plainly could have been limited to the mill rate and various other information regarding motor vehicle taxes in New Britain, without including favorable references to the budget and past performance  of the Mayor of New Britain and her administration.”

Car Tax

Brochure advancing Mayor Stewart’s campaign sent with motor vehicle tax bills at the height of the municipal election campaign in 2017. State law bars use of public funds for candidate promotions within three months of elections.

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GOP Alderman Hits School Board On Salaries But Rubber Stamps Pay Hikes, More Spending At City Hall

Posted in city government, New Britain Republicans, public education, Uncategorized by nbpoliticus on August 5, 2017

 

By John McNamara

The sometimes fragile relations between City Hall  and the Board of Education took a backward step this week over complaints from Ward 2 Republican Alderman Kristian Rosado appearing in the New Britain City Journal.

Rosado, in a front-page story in the City Journal , derided a unanimous BOE move on salary increases for three administrators,  pitting Rosado against BOE President and fellow Republican Nick Mercier.

unnamedRosado was joined by two BOE members, Sharon Beloin-Saavedra and Miriam Geraci, who either half-heartedly voted for the increases or didn’t stick around long enough to vote on the matter at a July 24th meeting.  Geraci, absent for the vote, objected because of uncertainty over the amount of Educational Cost Sharing (ECS) funds the city will receive in the unresolved state budget.  In a City Journal editorial, Editor Robin Vinci, often a mouthpiece for the Stewart administration on many issues, sided with Rosado.

The BOE, however,  unanimously approved three salary increases — a revenue neutral move, according to Mercier, because of a $49,000 cut in Assistant Superintendent Paul Salina’s compensation.  Receiving salary hikes were Chief Financial Officer Kevin Kane, Talent Officer Dr. Shuana Tucker and Assistant Talent Officer, Dr. Nicole Sanders, the principal of the North End School, who was promoted to the position.

 

City Journal Editor Robin Vinci, apparently confusing Dr. Sanders with someone else, falsely reported that Sanders is a member of the BOE.  By law, school employees cannot serve on the elected board.

Mercier, quoted in the City Journal, said “the chief financial officer is taking over as head of three departments, that warranted the salary increase. In terms of the talent office it was partially due to an increase in duties and responsibilities”  and making the salaries “competitive.” Mercier said the move is saving $20,000 in central office spending this year and will reduce administrative costs by $90,000 next year.

But Rosado lambasted the salary levels  as “outrageous and insulting considering that the average resident of New Britain makes under $40,000 a year,” saying more money should be going to classroom support.

By contrast, Rosado, in his capacity as a member of the Common Council, has been a reliable rubber stamp for Mayor’s office salary hikes and major budget increases on the municipal side of the ledger.  He supported Mayor Stewart’s budget that denied a very small increase for city schools.

No one questions Alderman Rosado nor the City Journal for casting a critical eye on how tax dollars are spent. But their critical eyes appear to be only wide open at the Board of Education. They are closed shut when it comes to salary hikes, increasing debt interest and all manner of discretionary spending by the Stewart administration.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Your Tax Dollars At Work: Erin Stewart Does Politics On Dem. Primary Day From City Hall

Posted in City Hall, city politics and government, New Britain Republicans by nbpoliticus on August 9, 2016

Republican Erin Stewart  is taking time from her  duties at City Hall to jump into today’s Democratic Primary for State Senate and Registrar of Voters,  posting a pitch from her official Facebook page to support the challengers.

Acknowledging she “is not a Democrat” Ms. Stewart urged her social media followers to oppose endorsed candidates State Senator Terry Gerratana and Registrar of Voters candidate Mike Trueworthy.

In an earlier post on her personal Facebook page Ms. Stewart resorted to name calling that was caught by Courant Columnist Kevin Rennie on his Daily Ructions blog.  Rennie has been a chronicler of Erin Stewart’s foul-mouthed rants and drinking episodes that have been an embarrassment to the city and may come back to haunt the young Republican as she seeks higher office.

Stewart Post

Erin Stewart in full campaign mode ripping up a Vote Democrat sign.

In his pursuit of a return to public office Registrar candidate Lucian Pawlak is relying heavily on Republican financial support.  A fellow Democratic supporter of Pawlak’s recently asked the former four-term Mayor if he would co-sign a letter to the editor opposing the controversial sale of the city’s Patton Brook Well in Southington that is up for a vote this week at the City Council.. Pawlak initially agreed but purportedly backed off telling his supporter that the Stewarts offered to get his committee contributions for the Democratic Primary.  Pawlak, in other words, allowed himself to be bought off on a key public issue.

Beloin-Saavedra, touting her advocacy for education and support of the schools in her challenge, has also embraced Stewart but that embrace has come at a price for what Beloin-Saavedra has said she stands for. When Mayor Stewart illegally attempted to cut $4 million already appropriated for the school budget in her first budget  Beloin-Saavedra never said a word in protest,  acquiescing to the raid on school funds. That was a disappointment for those who have always admired her BOE leadership and advocacy for education through the years. It took New Britain’s Democratic legislators  to block the loss of funds for education.

If nothing else in today’s Democratic Primary  Mr. Pawlak and Ms. Beloin-Saavedra are giving new meaning to the acronym  DINO – Democrats In Name Only.   And contrary to Ms. Stewart’s “people not politics” slogan  it’s about politics, pettiness and self aggrandizement on the city’s dime.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ukrainian Americans Protest Manafort Ties To Dictator, Trump Campaign

Posted in national politics, New Britain Republicans, Presidential Politics, Ukraine by nbpoliticus on April 23, 2016

The Hartford area’s  Ukrainian-American community, including members of three church congregations in New Britain, is speaking out against a city native with a well-known name among Republicans — Paul Manafort, the son of a former mayor, longtime Washington lobbyist and now campaign manager for the GOP’s unlikely frontrunner,  Donald J. Trump.

With Tuesday’s Connecticut Primary just ahead,  local Ukrainian Americans are calling on the Trump campaign to dismiss Manafort for his representation of and campaign work for Victor Yanukovych, the former president of the Ukraine, whose regime is reported to have “ordered the shootings of more than 100 Ukrainian protestors” and “who stole tens of billions of dollars from Ukraine before fleeing to Russia.”

Ukrainian Americans of all ages protested involvement of Paul Manafort in Presidential politics in New Britain on April 23rd

Ukrainian Americans of all ages protested involvement of Paul Manafort in Presidential politics in New Britain on April 23rd

Residents calling for Manafort to exit the Trump campaign assert that Manafort and his colleagues “have made tens of millions of dollars  representing some of the world’s most brutal dictators of the 20th century.”  One press report has dubbed Manafort a member of the “torturers’ lobby.”

An impromptu protest against the Trump hire of Manafort was held on Saturday, April 23rd near the entrance to the Route 9 Tadeusz Kosceiuszko Highway  and Paul Manafort Drive (named for the lobbyist’s late father) near Central Connecticut State University.   A group of Ukrainian-Americans held up signs  in protest such as “Shame on Putin, Shame on Manafort, Shame on Trump” and “Manafort’s Client Killed 104 Heroes.”  Ukrainian Americans fear Trump’s anti NATO position and praise of Russia’s Vladimir Putin will jeopardize the Ukraine’s fledgling democracy.

A statement released by the ad hoc group led by Alex Kuzma stated:

“Throughout his career Paul Manafort’s work overseas has been in direct conflict with the foreign policy interests of the United States and its allies, yet Manafort is now working to help influence the future of the highest office of the United States, pushing for a candidate who is more on message with Russian President Putin than our current U.S. President and member of Congress on both sides of the aisle.”

Ukrainian Americans condemn Trump campaign's hiring of Paul Manafort.

Ukrainian Americans condemn Trump campaign’s hiring of Paul Manafort.

Manafort, 66, has long been involved in national GOP politics and a partner in K Street lobbying firms such as Black, Manafort, Stone & Kelly and more recently Davis, Manafort.  Through the years he has been among highly compensated U.S. consultants working for foreign leaders with a record of human rights violations and whose policies have contradicted U.S. foreign policy.

Local Republicans appear unfazed by Manafort’s foreign adventures.  In a New Britain Herald story on the the Trump-Manafort connection, former New Britain Mayor and current Chamber of Commerce President Timothy Stewart said of Manafort: “He’s a go-to guy as a Republican operative and he has been for many years. ‘PJ’ is the man. He knows the players.”

A 2014 Politico story –“Mystery Man: Ukraine’s U.S. Fixer”– described Manafort’s roles as presidential operative and consultant to dictators:

 

Over three decades in Washington, Manafort built a storied career as a Beltway man of mystery: a famously discreet operative who worked for Ronald Reagan and George H. W. Bush, steered the 1996 GOP convention and built not one but two white-shoe D.C. lobbying shops, a pair of firms that bore Manafort’s name and catered to an eclectic stable of clients including anti-communist Angolan rebels and Ferdinand Marcos, the dictator of the Philippines.

Last month Manafort  re-surfaced as Trump’s delegate fixer and liaison to the Republican establishment.   After a long hiatus, Manafort is back on U.S. soil managing Trump’s campaign just like he did for Ukraine’s Yanukovych and others with disturbing records of human rights violations.

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