Saturday, October 31, 2015

Not You Again -- The Colonel Carries On

“It’s Canada Geese, Not Canadian Geese. 
Don’t You Know Anything?”

by Lester M’Left and Mortimer Wright

Merriam-Webster, the quintessential American lexicography outfit, was bought out by the Encyclopedia Britannica people a few years ago, and it’s a crying shame.

But even lexicographers benefit from the occasional makeover:

“Why should we put ourselves out of our way to do anything for posterity, for what has posterity ever done for us?" --Sir Boyle Roche

“On the other hand, leaving our grandchildren a lifeless husk of a planet would be a CLASSIC prank!” --Patton Oswalt

“Russia is a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma.”
--Winston Churchill

“Yeah, well, Benghazi was a swamp wrapped in a quagmire inside a [fustercluck].” --Patton Oswalt

“He’ll regret it till his dying day, if ever he lives that long.” 
--Will Danaher

“If I dropped dead right now, I’d be the happiest man alive.” 
--Samuel Goldwyn

“Our breath comes out white clouds
Mingles and hangs in the air
Speaking strictly for me
We both could have died then and there.”
--Joan Baez, “Diamonds and Rust”

“It’s ten o’clock. Do you know what the translators of your books are doing? I’ll tell you what they’re doing -- they’re committing vandalism!” --Sir Harry O. Triggerman, known for believing translation is literary vandalism

“My role in the band? My role in the band, if that’s what you call it, is to come up with licks on the guitar that Mick Jagger can write songs around.” --Keith Richards

“In the gambling capital of Nevada stands a great gold tower with the word ‘TRUMP’ on its side. It is no small achievement to have created one of the tackiest things in Las Vegas.” --Jim Geraghty

Friday, October 30, 2015

Comedy at The Buttonwood Tree!

HA-HA-HALLOWEEN Weekend at The Buttonwood Tree!

Friday, October 30
@ 8:00 pm $10

Comedy Night with Darren Sechrist 

and Friends

 Connecticut's own Darren Sechrist brings together some of New England’s top comics for a rollicking good time. A mix of headliners, seasoned comics, and new voices will be bringing the funny to the Buttonwood Tree. This is a show you don’t want to miss! With: Beecher, Kevin Fitzgerald, Michael Briskin, Andrew Morgan, and Mel V. (Some adult content.)
(Lineup subject to change.)

November 1
@ 7:00 pm $5

Great Make Believe Society 


Watch The Great Make Believe Society perform different kinds of improv comedy! See the styles of improv comedy made popular in Chicago, Los Angeles, Boston, and New York! Watch improvised scenes created right before your eyes, based on your suggestions!
"Come laugh your blood sugar back to normal with the Great Make Believe Society on Sunday, November 1st at 7pm! We’ll be at the Buttonwood Theater in Middletown making some silly stuff up. Feel free to bring your extra candy… the good stuff. Necco wafers and raisins can stay home."
GMBS will be joined by Lady Business as well!

Come laugh away the weekend at The Buttonwood Tree! 

Call 860-347-4957 or email with any questions.

Chasing Ice to be Screened Next for The Elements Film Series

Please join us on November 9, 2015 for a free screening of Chasing Ice, the next film presented as part of The Elements: An Annual Environmental Film Series! The series is sponsored by the Connecticut River Coastal Conservation District, Middlesex Community College Environmental Science Program, The Rockfall Foundation, and Wesleyan University's Center for the Arts and College of the Environment.

As described on the Chasing Ice website, "in the spring of 2005, acclaimed environmental photographer James Balog headed to the Arctic on a tricky assignment for National Geographic: to capture images to help tell the story of the Earth’s changing climate. Even with a scientific upbringing, Balog had been a skeptic about climate change. But that first trip north opened his eyes to the biggest story in human history and sparked a challenge within him that would put his career and his very well-being at risk...deploying revolutionary time-lapse cameras across the brutal Arctic to capture a multi-year record of the world’s changing glaciers."

Refreshments will be served (but please bring your own drink/water bottle), and there will be time for informal discussion after the film.

We hope you can join us! If you have questions, please contact the Connecticut River Coastal Conservation District office, 860-346-3282.

Xavier Mass And Dedication Ceremony Today

Mayor Daniel Drew will join Catholic leaders in a Mass and a dedication ceremony for the Theodore James Ryken Hall, a new fine arts wing, and the Ben Foisie Memorial Athletic Complex at Xavier High today.

Brother Brian Davis, C.F.X., Headmaster of Xavier, and The Most Reverend Michael R. Cote, D.D., Bishop, Diocese of Norwich, will speak as well.

Mass will begin at 12:15 in the school's gymnasium, dedication ceremony will begin at 1:15PM.

Xavier is an all boys private high school located on 181 Randolph Road.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Jazz Up Close: Sunday November 1st at Russell Library

Nadje Noordhuis will be at Russell Library this Sunday.

Russell Library will present Jazz Up Close: Performance and Discussion with Nadje Noordhuis
Sunday November 1 at 1:30 p.m. in the Hubbard Room of the Russell Library in Middletown.
Resonant Motion, Inc. presents the fourth and final installment in the 2015 Jazz Up Close series with trumpet player and composer Nadje Noordhuis forming part of a trio featuring bassist Henry Lugo and pianist/series curator Noah Baerman. 
Originally from Sydney, Australia, Noordhuis moved to New York in 2003 to pursue graduate study at the Manhattan School of Music and has since become a fixture on the New York and global jazz scenes. Her distinctive and authoritative trumpet playing can be heard in acclaimed groups including Darcy James Argue’s Secret Society, the Diva Jazz Orchestra and Rudy Royston’s 303, which recently completed its second residency at New York’s hallowed jazz club the Village Vanguard. Her eponymous debut album on Little Mystery Records is an eclectic and energetic collection of original music on which “tenderness and melody reign supreme” (Michael J. West, JazzTimes). This program is made possible by the generosity of the Middletown Commission on the Arts.

COMMENTARY by John Milardo: Did Drew Earn His Degree on City Time?


In May 2015, Mayor of Middletown, Daniel T. Drew, earned a masters degree from Columbia University in New York.

My first thought was, “Wow, I give the guy credit for doing this!  I wish everyone who wants a college education could get one.”  But how does he earn a Master of Arts (M.A.) degree from such a prestigious university like Columbia, while working full-time as the Mayor of Middletown, Connecticut?   

I sent Columbia University officials some emails regarding Mayor Drew’s attendance to their program.
My first question was: Are their any on-line-courses for the “Social-Organization Psychology, M.A.” program?  The answer from Lynda Hallmark, Program Manager of the University was, “It is an in person only program – no online options”

Next question; Does the “Executive Masters Program in Change Leadership” program have any on-line options?  Ms. Hallmark’s answer was, “Sorry, no, it does not.  It’s a “residential” cohort program that meets 4 times/academic year for about 10 days per module.”
 (editor's note: The Columbia website indicates that modules are seven days in length)

I asked Ms. Hallmark one last question, which she forwarded to Dan Drew’s professor.  The question was as follows: Did Columbia University make any exceptions for Mayor Drew regarding his presence and attendance for his classes in New York?

Dr. Debra A. Noumair, the Director of the “Executive Masters Program in Change Leadership” responded with the following; “We did not make any “exceptions” for the mayor regarding his presence and attendance for his classes in New York.”

For the “Executive Masters Program in Change Leadership” program it states – “The program is delivered in four 1-week modules extending over one year and includes pre-work, post-work, and guided independent study/action research as part of the formal program requirements.”

According to the university, it was mandatory that students be physically present in classes at Columbia University.  The program with the minimum time spent in New York as described by the Ms. Hallmark is the “Executive Masters Program in Change Leadership.”

According to the website, it is a 7-day per module, 4 modules per year, residential only program.  That equates to 28 days in New York to attend these classes at Columbia University.  The University made no exceptions for the Mayor.

According to Columbia University’s website, The “Executive Masters Program in Change of Leadership” classes begin at 8 a.m. and end sometime in the evening, sometimes going into the weekends.  Along with this time spent in classes, students are also responsible to complete “10 hours a week on course-related assignments and action learning projects,” and “There will be monthly virtual check-in sessions in between the modules in order to provide scheduled time for project supervision, teamwork, information sharing, and additional hot topic lectures.”

Where am I going with this?  The FOI of Mayor Drew’s calendar provides 17 hours devoted to Columbia University from September 2014 through August of 2015.  Most of it is for “conference calls” to the University. 

Why isn’t there any the time marked on his scheduling calendar for the time he took off to attend classes at Columbia University in New York? 

The mayor seem to put everything else on his calendar.  How does a mayor of a town, miss 28 days of work and no one notices it?

I expect the Mayor of my town, to perform his full-time duties as Mayor.  If you want to further you education, that’s great!  Then the mayor should have taken a leave of absence, and appointed someone to be in charge of Middletown while he was away.

The rigorous academic schedule raises other questions too, including whether the Deputy Mayor was put in charge during absences, and how transportation costs were handled.

Middletown’s Charter, Chapter IV, Section 2 states; “The Mayor shall be the chief executive officer of the City and shall devote full time to the duties of office.  Full time shall mean primary occupation.” 

According to Dan Drew’s own calendar, he has been a part-time mayor for Middletown.  Over the past ten (10) months, including his education at Columbia University, days off from work for various reasons, and the time he has spent with his paid political advisors, The Vinci Group, he has missed a record 77.5 days of work (and that’s based on the minimum time at Columbia

 The taxpayers should be outraged over this!

In my opinion, Dan Drew has been a part-time Mayor for Middletown, obsessed with furthering his political career and promoting himself through his paid political advisors. His disdain for the people who pay his wages and expect him to put Middletown first is not only shameful, but in my opinion unethical.

Opportunity: Experience the Glamorous, Thrill-Packed, Adventure-Filled Life of an Eye Correspondent, For One Evening

The Middletown Eye is looking for volunteer correspondents for Election Day.  The requirements are simple:

 - You'll need to spend an hour or two at a poll station in Middletown
 - You'll need a cell phone to photograph tabulated poll results to send back to Middletown Eye central
 - You will need to spend a few minutes talking with a Middletown Eye editor to receive some simple instructions

You will receive credit in Middletown Eye election night reporting in Middletown.

If you're interested, please send contact information to

The Fuzzy Issue of this Election

Submitted by Brian E. Clark, write-in candidate for mayor.
Typically, I am, and run, a negative, attack based, edgy campaign. Even though that all remains true, and it all can be backed up with numerous documents. That time is over. We have entered what I like to call the “sweet spot” of an election campaign, where we, as candidates, have done our very best to get our perspectives out there, and while we will not stop campaigning until 7:59pm on November 3rd, there’s just a different feel to it all. You can bet I’m not done, but I’m done attacking and being negative. I want to talk to people and see what I can do better as a Mayor and human being, for the residents of Middletown.

That all said, it’s time to be a tad light hearted, and put my money where my mouth is. I have ultimate confidence in that Sandra Russo- Driska, or myself, can absolutely beat Dan Drew outright. It’s not even a question in my mind for a nano-second . Sandra Russo- Driska, or Brian E. Clark will be the Mayor of the City of Middletown come November 10, 2015. What do I have to put up, to back that claim up? Well, that’s where it gets a bit hairy.

When I was in the Fire Service, we all have to be completely clean shaven, at all times, for our Air- Pack Masks to properly seal to our faces, and keep out smoke and toxins. After 9/11/2001, my heart just wasn’t in it anymore, and in December 2001, I retired for good, and went on to be a CDL Truck Driver. It was the first time in my life I was able to grow a beard! I’ve had my beard, in all varying degrees, ever since. Almost 15 years now. My Daughter has never seen me without it. So you may be asking, what the hell does this have to do with anything? I’ll tell you.

When I was in the Fire Service, we all have to be completely clean shaven, at all times, for our Air- Pack Masks to properly seal to our faces, and keep out smoke and toxins. After 9/11/2001, my heart just wasn’t in it anymore, and in December 2001, I retired for good, and went on to be a CDL Truck Driver. It was the first time in my life I was able to grow a beard! I’ve had my beard, in all varying degrees, ever since. Almost 15 years now. My Daughter has never seen me without it. So you may be asking, what the hell does this have to do with anything? I’ll tell you.

I am so confident that Sandra- Russo Driska, or Myself, Brian E. Clark will be victorious over Dan Drew on November 3rd, that I’m putting my beard on the line. That’s right. If Dan Drew somehow happens to win this election, I will completely shave my beard off, down to bear skin. Not a huge prize to throw down, but I challenge anyone else on the opposing side, that if you have facial hair you have had for a long time, and you believe so much in Dan Drew, I challenge you to put it up on the shaving block. Pictures can be posted later. It’s a fun and goofy idea. After all the stress this campaign has created, it’s time to have some fun.

My Name is Brian E. Clark, and I approve this Message! (And Hope to God to keep my Beard)

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Corporate Cash Fuels Incumbent In Mayoral Race. Again.

This is an opinion piece that represents solely the views of its author.
This year’s mayoral campaign is fueled primarily by campaign contributions from outside Middletown, as it has been for at least the past 2 election cycles. In 2011, incumbent Republican Sebastian Giuliano received multiple $1000 checks from the owners of corporations doing business with the city. During that campaign, The Middletown Press reported that Giuliano called contributions from city contractors “pretty normal.” He said, “It's kind of a weird system, but it's the system."

This year, incumbent mayor Dan Drew has put “the system” into hyperdrive, allowing him to completely swamp his challenger, Sandra Russo-Driska. As of October 10th, each candidate had raised about $25,000 from city residents. But while this represents nearly the entirety of what Russo-Driska raised, "the system" has given the incumbent far more money at his disposal, having raised about $60,000 in donations from outside of the city, and often outside of the state
Campaign finance law bars anyone from giving more than $1000 to a candidate, and requires the campaign committee in its regular filings to identify the company that the donor works for, and to answer the question, “... does contributor or business he/she is associated with have a contract with [Middletown] valued at more than $5,000?”

However, corporations can, and often do, generate more than $1000 for a candidate. This happens when multiple individuals associated with the same corporation each make $1000 donations to a candidate. Often the donors and the campaign committee seemingly forget to include information that indicates an association between a donor and a corporation. During the 2011 mayoral election, the Middletown Press reported that the incumbent, Sebastian Giuliano, was the recipient of the following donations:
Jay Jayanathan, from the engineering firm United International Corporation, which lists Middletown as a client, gave $1,000, as did Santhini Jayanathan, who listed "homemaker" as her occupation and who gave the same address as Jay.
A casual reader of the campaign finance reports might not have realized that these were two donations associated with the same corporation. It is unlikely that the Giuliano campaign did not know the connection. Unfortunately, voters cannot know if this influenced the city's decision to award further contracts to United International Corporation (now part of PRIME AE Group, Inc.)

This year, the Drew campaign has taken this approach into hyperdrive as well. Six different corporations with significant city contracts were associated with donations from $2000 to $5000 each. And recent Russo-Driska complaints with the State Elections Enforcement Commission allege 14 apparent campaign finance law violations, linked to $12,500 worth of donations. Some of those complaints allege that donors failed to disclose their own contracts with the city, others refer to situations similar to Giuliano and the Jayanathan donations in 2011.

Drew is using another method to allow the owners of corporations to contribute money to his campaign beyond the $1000 limit for candidate committee. This method, which is more widely used in state and national campaigns, involves a Political Action Committee. Drew established his Political Action Committee, called DrewPAC, after the 2011 election. DrewPAC can collect more money for his campaign, even from people who have already given the maximum amount to his regular campaign committee. For example, in addition to his $1000 contribution to Drew2015, Jay Jayanthan donated an additional $750 to DrewPAC.

When candidates for state-wide or national office accept large donations from partners at Goldman Sachs, many voters are justifiably concerned that when elected they will promote the interests of Wall Street over the interests of Main Street. Many voters are also concerned about the policy implications of large donations from special interests, whether it is NRA, NARAL, or a corporate funded SuperPAC such as an oil industry lobbying group.

We should be equally concerned about the effect of campaign donations on our local government.  

Our mayoral campaign is awash in donations from the largest corporations in the state and beyond that do business with the city. These donations seem to be driven more by business profits than by political ideology, as the major corporate donors who gave to the Republican Giuliano are now giving to the Democrat Drew.

This risks a loss of faith in a democratic process.  How can the mayor assure the voter that his or her interests are being put above those who gave corporate campaign cash?  How can the mayor assure the voter that pursuit of corporate donations is not driving the work of city hall?

If Sandra Russo-Driska's concerns about the corporate financing of her opponent are genuine, she should acknowledge that the last Republican mayor, now on her ticket as a candidate for the Common Council, used "the system" in the same way her opponent is now. 

If Dan Drew is genuinely opposed to the corrupting influence of corporations on democracy, as exemplified in the Supreme Court decision in Citizens United, he should return all donations from the principals and employees of corporations doing business with the city. 

Both candidates should pledge that if elected, in any re-election bid she or he would refuse all campaign contributions from corporations doing business with the city. They have the power to eliminate "the system" and its potential for abuse.

Other candidates and elected officials who express outrage at the creep of corporate influence on our democracy should decry the actions of incumbent mayoral candidates in our city.

More broadly, we should seek a long-term solution that removes the influence of out-of-town and out-of-state corporate contributions. We need to change "the system".

The Supreme Court has ruled against laws that limit the ability of individuals and corporations to make political contributions, so a further restriction on corporate contractors' campaign cash is likely impossible.

I propose an approach from the opposite end. I suggest that the Middletown Common Council enact an ordinance that prohibits the granting of city contracts to any corporation whose principals or employees have contributed more than a certain amount to any candidate for mayor in the last election. The maximum could be a dollar value, for example $100; or it could be a percent, for example, 0.1% of the total spent on the last election.

This approach does not infringe on the free speech of individuals or corporations, it would simply force a choice between political donations and corporate contracts. And importantly, it does not depend on State or Federal legislation. Middletown could be the municipality in the country that pioneers a new approach to removing the potential for corporate corruption of our democracy.

I urge all candidates, but especially the two candidates for mayor, to make clear how they stand on individual campaign contributions that are thinly veiled corporate cash.