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  • Government Watch

    You might think that because the pandemic canceled most of this year’s General Assembly session, state legislators might – just this once – cut back on the taxpayer-funded, full-color “legislative news” brochures that they love to mail to constituents. But no. They’ll be spending about $1 million on supposedly-informational, but in-fact-promotional legislative mail, which is barely distinguishable from the campaign literature they’ll be distributing in the run-up to the Nov. 3 election. Why, you may ask, would lawmakers send out a legislative update if they barely passed any legislation? Hmmm, maybe it’s because these mass mailings amount to a free bonanza of self-promotion for any incumbent seeking re-election this fall.

  • The top brass at the state Department of Social Services weren’t eager to release the results of a consultant’s survey of DSS employees’ morale last October when a worker requested the document, but they finally handed it over last month after the worker, tired of waiting, filed a complaint with the Freedom of Information Commission in May. The July 2019 snapshot of employee sentiment in three key divisions of DSS — Health Services, Information Technology, and Quality Assurance — is mixed, to put it mildly, and isn’t pretty in a number of ways. Anonymous respondents decried “a culture...of deceit, hypocrisy [and] favoritism,” for example, or said, “I am trying so hard to get out of this toxic environment.”

  • Hundreds of state employees may have filed illegal unemployment compensation claims for their loss of part-time work with“non-state,” outside employers in recent months, the Connecticut Department of Labor has reported to the state Auditors of Public Accounts. "I am notifying you of potential misuse of state funds,” Heidi Lane, director of the labor department’s legal division, wrote last month to chief auditors John Geragosian and Rob Kane, in a legally required disclosure of a potential financial problem. The labor department “has determined that there are several hundred State employees who have filed for Unemployment Insurance benefits due to loss of part-time employment with a non-state employer,” she added in the June 12 notification that the auditors released Wednesday as part of their monthly “loss report” covering financial issues big and small across state government. “Generally, if an employee is working ful-time, they may not receive unemployment benefits due to the loss of a pat-time job. If they are working for the state and, when filing a claim, did not declare state employment, whether full time or part time, a fraud determination may follow,” Lane wrote. “At this time, the matter is still under investigation.”

  • Noel Rodriquez of Torrington, the Democratic Party nominee for the 63rd District seat in the state House of Representatives, says on his campaign website that the state needs “to be financially responsible ensuring our children’s wellbeing, reducing generational state bonding.”One local newspaper called him a “newcomer” with “no experience as an elected official” — a situation that creates a big challenge for anyone trying to unseat a four-term incumbent, as he is trying to do with Rep. Jay Case, R-Winchester.It goes without saying that a candidate like him needs to to make voters aware of who he is.But there’s something that Rodriquez has not been saying on his campaign website, or to a prominent Democratic party leader in the Torrington area: Two weeks ago, he went before a state panel and argued successfully for a pardon of his past criminal convictions, one of which sent him to prison for 14 months in 2009 and 2010 for second-degree burglary, a Class C felony, when he was in high school.

  • Veteran prosecutor Mark Brodsky’s impromptu remark during a June 26 hearing about Hartford state’s attorney Hardy — "Oh, come on...liar" — constituted ‘misconduct’ that “reflected poorly” both on the state’s Criminal Justice Division and on Brodsky himself, according to a letter of reprimand given to him by Chief state’s Attorney Richard Colangelo.

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