Saturday, January 30, 2016

Success is Attitude and a Lot of Aardvark -- The Colonel Carries On #16

by Raspberry (“Razz”) Matazz

Epigraph: If a thing has been said well, have no scruple; steal it, but do so like a professional: leave no fingerprints.

The perfect crime is not the one for which the criminal is not caught, but the one the commission of which is never detected.

All poets steal from other poets. Young poets, full of themselves, call it hommage. Older poets prefer the name “stealing.”

If fifty million people agree on a foolish thing, it’s still a foolish thing. Individual results may vary.

Men interested in women’s clothes aren’t interested in women. Men who like women don’t notice what they wear.

In any well-governed state, wealth is sacred. In a democracy, it’s the only thing that's sacred.

Ignorance and error are like bread and water, necessities of life.

The poor pay cash not from virtue, but because no one will extend them credit.

It’s human nature to think wisely and act stupidly.

Concerning the future, it’s best not to hope or fear.

Everything good in us and valuable in life, like courage, pity, and virtue, comes from suffering.

Forced to choose between crime and cruelty, choose crime.

Great deeds require not only action, but dreams; not just plans, but faith.

It is better to understand a few things than to misunderstand many.

When you haven't many friends and throw a little party, you needn’t answer the phone, because you know it isn’t one of your friends.

You can’t make a natural morality, because nature has no moral principles, does not respect human life, and knows neither good nor evil.

The worst way to define humanity? “Rational animal.”

I’m willing to die for my country, but not for the rich.

A writer improves by planing down sentences.

Remove the lies from our history books and nothing of interest remains.

Between knowledge and imagination, imagination always wins.

Aim to make people happy, and you will make them miserable.

Never stop working; rest by changing tasks.

Enthusiasm is folly, much preferable to indifference.

He has all the virtues I despise and none of the vices I admire.

The art of teaching is to make young minds itch and to give them the tools with which to make scratchers.

Even welcome change is sad, for we must leave part of ourselves behind. We die to one life to enter another.

Some people’s best talk is about themselves. Let them shine.

On innocence and naivete: let your heart be a lamb and your mind a fox.

A good critic tells of his adventures among masterpieces.

Not without reason, gods conform closely to the sentiments of their worshippers.

The greatest changes in social life take place imperceptibly, visible only from afar.

Humanity is its own greatest asset.

War used to be continuous. Now the intervals are often longer than the wars. Dare we hope that war belongs to an era that is passing?

If I won the lottery, I would divide my time between singing hymns, studying grammar, and meditating on eternal truths.

Most people don’t know what to do with this life, yet they yearn for another one that goes on endlessly.

Chance is God’s pseudonym; he doesn’t always want to sign his work.

By accepting a mass neurosis, devout believers ward off certain individual neuroses.

As I ceased to be a boy, I liked myself less. As I grow old, the process continues.

No government should ever lack for critics, and where there's a free press, none ever will.

A friend used to run an institution’s garden, supervising several employees. One confided that he binge-drank every weekend and showed up Mondays with the d.t.’s. “Really?” my friend said. “What do you see?” “Oh, you know: little sailors, stuff like that.”

A fool can seem witty if he but keep silent, a trick known also to the wise.

A fool thinks himself a wise man; a wise man knows himself a fool.

A fool and his wise man are soon parted, everywhere but in adages.

Heaven and earth came by chance, but all the skill of art cannot make an oyster?

An education isn't what you know, but what you know how to look up.

Vita brevis, Proust longus.

When I die, my work will fall into critical disfavor for a while, after which I will be fondly remembered and my critics forgotten.

From kindly nature we get sturdy self-esteem to dull the knowledge of our idiocy.

We suffer from socialism under a false name. Set that right, and we’ll have all the relief a sick man gets from turning over in bed.

Contempt is the best predictor of divorce.

Weak men think it a sign of character never to change one’s mind.

Do I contradict myself?
Very well then I contradict myself,
(I am large, I contain multitudes.)
I am of the multitude that believes the Moon landing was a hoax and Mensa is keeping the Mars colony a secret.
There is a great deal of ruin in a nation. --Adam Smith

“So blue her eyes.” --John Gorka

People have shorter attention spans these days. --Gail Collins

Call me Ishmael. Okay, we’re done here.

It is a far better thing I do now
than I have ever done,
and a far better rest to which I go
than some insomniac nun.

Expostulation of the week: “Good Lord ‘n’ butter!”

Walk Against Hunger Leadership Opportunities

From Bill Maune.
Help Organize the Walk Against Hunger to Benefit St. Vincent dePaul Soup Kitchen and Amazing Grace Food Pantry
The Walk Against Hunger Leadership Committee has begun to meet in anticipation of this year’s event on May 1st, 2016. The committee is in search of a couple more individuals to help organize and promote this wonderful event.

The Walk Against Hunger is hosted annually by FoodShare. For the past 3 years this event has been a great opportunity for us to raise much-needed funds, as incoming donations typically slow down during the summer months. To achieve our fundraising goal, we hope to recruit more teams and gain the support of more businesses and organizations in the Middletown area. As such, we are hoping to add a couple more community-minded individuals to our committee. We value the ideas of local residents and feel that your input would help the committee as we plan for this year’s Walk.
The Leadership Committee meets about every 3 weeks during the months of February, March, and April. The next meeting is coming up on February 2nd at 5:00pm.

If you would like to be involved with this great event, please contact Jessica Broderick  to let us know. We’d love to have you on board!

Last Years Team Walkers:  The Walk Is Fun!


Friday, January 29, 2016

Preschool Information Fair at Russell Library

Russell Library, with Kitty Robinson, Head of the Children’s Department, is sponsoring a Preschool Information Fair on Saturday, January 30, 2016, from 10:00 a.m. to 12:00.  The purpose of the fair is to provide information for parents of young children who are planning to enroll children in a child care setting.  For more information,  you can call the library at 860 347-2528.

Reggae and Comedy at The Buttonwood Tree

This Weekend at The Buttonwood Tree

Comedy Night 
with Darren Sechrist & Friends
Comedy @ 8:00 pm $10
 Reggae @ 8:00 pm $10

Comedy Night with Darren Sechrist & 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! This month’s lineup includes: Howie Mason (headlining), Dave Sheehan, Kareem Blue, Darren Sechrist, Josh Levinson, and possibly a special guest! (Some adult content.)

A moto performance features new Soca music from Trinidad, traditional roots reggae and creative interpretations of rock, R&B and soul music with elements of jazz, salsa and afrobeat. With our collective years of experience playing all types of music, what comes out is always new and unique. We may start with “Differentology”, a jungle beat by Bunjy Garlin, one of Trinidads new pioneers of Soca, then segue into Dolla Wine, a pure traditional Soca with a relentless uptempo dance groove and shout along hooks. Then bring it down to a slow pulsing version of Night Nurse by Gregory Isaacs. Standards like “The Harder They Come”, “Stir It Up” and “Hot, Hot, Hot” are mixed in with surprises like our take on “When Doves Cry” from Prince. And we feature songs by Machel Montano. This new artist combines traditional Soca feels with an new electric style creating irresistible dance grooves.

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Gallitto Elected President of The New Haven Middlesex Association of Realtors

From David Gallito.
David Gallitto of Middletown, CT has been elected to serve as President of The New Haven Middlesex Association of REALTORS®.

David is the Vice President of Sterling Realtors in Middletown. He has been a real estate agent for 13 years and specializes in residential purchases and sales throughout the State of Connecticut. He holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Notre Dame and serves on numerous committees and councils in his local community including that of Chairman of the South Fire District Commission.

"David has been and continues to be a dynamic addition to our Board of Directors and I look forward to working with him as President this year," said NHMR CEO Dawn Calvo. "Directors and officers are nominated by fellow board members and voted on by our general membership. David’s election as President is a testament to his professionalism, knowledge and the respect he has gained throughout the real estate community."

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

To Be There, Or Not To Be There, That Is the Question

At their last meeting, the Middletown Board of Education tabled a vote on a change in policy that would allow a Board member to "attend" a meeting via teleconference.

At the December 8, 2015 meeting of the Board, chairperson Vinnie Loffredo indicated that Board member Deborah Cain was not able to attend the meeting at council chambers due to out-of-the-country travel for her employer.  Cain requested the ability to attend via a phone connection.  Loffredo said that a legal opinion from city lawyers indicated that the request was legitimate, and that it was a legal procedure.

"The ruling was presented to me that it was totally permissible," Loffredo said.

While the board is legally allowed to accept attendance via phone line, it is not required to do so.

Cain "attended" the December 8 meeting via a Skype connection.

At the next scheduled meeting, on January 12, Cain was again out of the country, and again "attended" the meeting via a phone connection.  She was also connected via phone for the January 27 meeting.

At the Jan 12 meeting, the Board considered a change in policy that would specifically allow a single board member to seek permission to virtually attend a meeting of the Board.  The new language (below) would make specific, the Board's intent to allow virtual attendance of meetings based on a case-by-case basis and consensus of the Board.

After some discussion at the meeting, Board member Sheila Daniels asked for action on the changed policy to be tabled until such time as the Board could seek out public comment on the change.  The Board voted unanimously to table the vote.

Public comment on the issue sprang to life on Facebook today when respected sportswriter, and retired Middletown public school teacher Jim Bransfield opined that he thought it was a bad idea to allow virtual attendance, and solicited the views of others.

Bransfield expanded his argument Wednesday.

While the BOE meets Tuesday January 26, a vote on the change in policy is not on the agenda.

(Language for the amended Board of Eduation attendance policy)
Electronic Participation

Recognizing the inherent responsibility and statutory duties of Board of Education members, the Board of Education (Board) strongly encourages Board members to physically attend and participate at meetings of the Board. 

The Board of Education authorizes that the Board Chairperson or presiding officer may allow one (1) Board member to participate electronically in a Board meeting if there is good cause why the Board member cannot attend in person and the request is received by noon on the preceding day to allow a good quality electronic connection to be set up.  The member who participates in a Board meeting through electronic means shall be counted in the quorum.  Due to security concerns, electronic participation in closed executive sessions, including expulsion hearings will not be permitted, and all electronic participation shall be disconnected.  All votes by the member who is attending by teleconference shall be taken by roll call. The Board member may not simply vote electronically, but must be connected at the commencement of the meeting and throughout the discussion of business.

When a Board member participates electronically, the member will be considered present and will have his or her actual physical presence excused.   The Board Secretary will document it in the Minutes when the member participates in the meeting electronically.

At the commencement of the meeting:

       the Board Chair will announce there is one (1) board member participating electronically;
       the member participating electronically shall share the reason for such participation;
o      Any member of the board may object to the attendance of a member attending electronically.  If such objection is made and seconded, the Chair shall call for a vote on the issue.  Only those members physically present may vote on such matter.  If the objection is sustained, electronic communication shall be disconnected and such member shall not be considered present for the meeting;
       the Board Chair will ensure that the two-way communication is audible to the public and the electronically participating board member; and
the Board secretary will document in the minutes when a member 

Let "The Grays" melt your Blues away tonight (1/27/16)

The Grays perform electric gypsy tribal jazz, sharing original works-in-progress and jams. Featuring special guest artists and dancers in a high energy but chilled out vibe, in a cabaret style jazz lounge for Get-over-the-Hump Midweek Date Nights.

At The Buttonwood Tree 605 Main St Middletown at 7pm

Board of Education Discusses School Budget Cuts

During the public session at the Board of Education Tuesday the discussion of the Superintendent's proposed budget began as residents and teachers spoke in favor of adopting the budget.

Middletown Federation of Teachers president Janice Pawlak spoke first, urging the Board to adopt the budget as requested by the Superintendent. She was followed by this author, who made the same request, describing the budget adoption discussions as a process, and urging the Board not to make preemptive cuts in an attempt to placate the mayor or Common Council.  This author also reminded the Board that quality of schools is affected by an appropriate budget, and quality of schools has a notable effect of property values.

Middletown High School English teacher Chris Darby praised Superintendent Charles, and cited the progress that has been made in the district.  He also noted ways in which budget curtailments have put Middletown students at risk.

"Without additional staff at the high school, we are in danger of being able to offer enough classes for our students to graduate," Darby said referring to new elevated state standards for credits to graduate.

"It boggles my mind that we don't have full-time librarians at the middle schools," Darby added.

Parents Carolyn Oakes May and Brian Kaskel also urged the board to pass the superintendent's budget.  Kaskel cited the process, reminding the board that the Common Council was likely to cut any budget presented to it, whether the board trimmed the budget prior to its submission to the mayor or not.

"Why give them a lower starting point," Kaskel said.  "They're likely to cut it anyway."

Representing the Middletown High School Athletic Booster club, Anthony Fazzino urged the Board to refrain from cutting budget items that would affect the sports programs in Middletown schools

Budget concerns continued to emerge throughout the meeting with Board member Linda Szynkowicz requested information of any income realized by the district, and to get an understanding of how and where grant dollars are spent.

In addition, Board chair Vinnie Loffredo asked for time to study the bid process for all school vendors.  He cited a longstanding contract with Dattco Bus company which, Loffredo claimed, locked the district into 5% annual increases for 5 years.

Superintendent Charles corrected Loffredo and said that annual increases were in the 3.5% range.

When budget discussion began in earnest, Charles indicated that she had lowered her original request of a 9% increase down to a 7.5% increase.  However, as she ticked through potential savings, and duplications in funding, it was clear that she had instructed staff to find savings that would allow the district to function, in the upcoming year, with an increase closer to 5.5%.

Board member Chris Drake asked for clarification, noting that many of the line items on the list of budget cuts, were items which had already been declared duplications, or areas of real savings in the upcoming year.

Szykowicz called on her colleagues to limit discussions to actual savings and to allow the superintendent to present a realistic budget to the Board, which they would then pass onto the Common Council.

"I don't believe we should be looking at cuts which affects programs and people," she said.  "Every one of these things affects some person.  These are people's lives we're talking about.  It's an exercise that I don't think is necessary."

When cuts on the Superintendent's list began to affect programs and personnel, Board member Cheryl McClellan indicated that the cuts were beginning to cause pain.

"I'm at the point where I want it to stop," McClellan said.  "This is a number we should bring to the Council."

Loffredo indicated that the cut list was a necessary exercise to find savings, and to begin to see where cuts might affect programs and personnel.  Charles indicated that coming up with a firm number was "a moving target," early in the year, and that in the weeks leading up to the March deadline for submitting the budget, more savings might be found.

Among those savings to be examined are additional shared services with the city, and potential re-use of bonded dollars for capital expenditures that had been closed out.

Drake indicated that he would like the city to consider help with the upcoming negotiation of the para contract.

NOTE: In an item unrelated to budget, the Board voted to begin all upcoming meetings at 6:30 PM.

Public Access TV Studio Open House Friday, 1/29

From Jessica Forrest, Comcast  Public Relations Specialist
Comcast is opening the doors of its local Public Access TV Studio to residents of our city on Friday January 29th from 6:00pm- 8:00pm for the studio’s Winter Open House. The studio is located at 199 Shunpike Rd in Cromwell, CT.

During the open house residents will be able to meet current access producers and volunteers, take a tour of the studio and will also be able to view the studio’s field equipment and the editing suites.  All the equipment in the facility will be available for demonstrations.

Residents will also be able to register for future training workshops and learn more about how they can become involved in Public Access Television. There will be registration forms available that night as well as information packets about the Public Access TV studio and channel.

Participation in Cromwell Public Access Television is open to any resident or nonprofit organization in Cromwell, East Hampton, Middlefield, Middletown and Portland.  Guests will learn how to become a behind-the-scenes volunteer and/or how to produce their own show.

Access Coordinators Kerstin Perrin and Tyler Kittleman will be in attendance to assist participants with any questions, suggestions or comments they may have regarding Public Access and its facility.
For more information, or to volunteer, residents and nonprofit organizations are encouraged to contact the Cromwell Public Access Television Studio at (860) 613-3035.