RELL PROVES BETTER AT BUDGET THAN ‘IDOL’–KATIE GOES HOME

Governor Rell, who earlier this week urged Connecticut residents to vote for Middlebury’s Katie Stevens on American Idol, must have been disappointed to see the 16-year old sent home last night after a terrific run on the wildly popular TV show. However, another vote (hopefully one that she sees as more important), this one in the state Senate, must have pleased her.

In an extremely rare, unanimous budget vote, the Senate passed the deficit cutting plan that was approved Tuesday by the House. It covers nearly the entire $320 million + deficit this year and managed to cut hunting and fishing licensing fees. It made up for it by increasing certain fines doled out by the DMV—an excellent move. Immediately after the vote, the governor signed the bill that does not raise taxes or cut aid to cities and towns.

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Nursing home workers in four Connecticut towns are scheduled to strike this morning after failing to reach an agreement with the homes’ owners. The nursing homes affected are Birmingham Health Center in Derby, Hilltop Health Center in Ansonia, Laurel Hill Health Center in Winsted and Park Place in Hartford. They employ nearly 400 people who have been working under the terms of previous contracts that expired last year. The company that operates the homes, Vernon-based Spectrum Healthcare, says it has hired licensed professionals to staff the facilities and will continue to provide care.

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“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion.” There is general agreement that the establishment clause of the Constitution prohibits an official religion endorsed by government or preferential support by the government of some religions over others. Until someone can explain to The Shad how having Enfield High School’s and Enrico Fermi’s graduation at First Cathedral Church in Bloomfield somehow establishes a religion or favors one religion over another, then The Shad finds it fairly sad that both sides of this First Amendment argument feel it necessary to get involved here.

The Enfield school board set aside a certain amount of money for the graduations and needed a facility big enough and with enough parking to accommodate the activities. The church fit the bill. Enfield certainly doesn’t favor First Cathedral over another religion and most certainly isn’t trying to make First Cathedral’s religion the official religion of Enfield.

The ACLU has threatened to sue and on the other side, the American Center for Law and Justice wants in.

The argument is ridiculous and fairly pathetic. The kids just want to graduate. The town just wants a practical and affordable facility.

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US Senator Chris Dodd “got his Irish up” as The Shad’s mom used to say, passionately defending a financial regulatory bill he has worked on with a leading Republican for at least six months. Dodd accused Republican Senate Leader Mitch McConnell of lying about the bill in his criticism of it. Dodd waved what he said was a leaked memo from a Republican strategist that contained talking points almost identical to the critical points McConnell made about the bill.

McConnell had accused Dodd of drafting partisan legislation, even though the banking committee chairman has worked for roughly half a year with key Senate Republicans and incorporated many of their ideas into his bill. McConnell also said that the bill continues controversial bank bailouts.

“It’s a naked political strategy,” implored a visibly upset Dodd as reported by McClatchey newspapers.

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Secretary of State Susan Bysiewicz’ efforts to be declared eligible to run and serve as attorney general is turning into a bit of a joke nationwide. Ashby Jones writes in the Wall Street Journal (blog), “When we last checked inon the situation concerning Susan Bysiewicz, Connecticut’s secretary of the state, things were weird. Suffice it to say that since then, things have gotten a whole lot weirder…Let’s recap. Bysiewicz wants to become Connecticut’s next attorney general. Thing is — and this is what we wrote about back in January — she might not qualify…Bysiewicz filed suit — against herself in her capacity of Secretary of State. Herself? That’s right. After all, part of her job as Secretary of State is to explain and defend the state’s election laws to a variety of candidates. If she doesn’t like the law, the office to sue is the one that enforces them — her own.” The entire article is here: http://blogs.wsj.com/law/2010/04/14/the-curious-case-of-bysiewicz-v-bysiewicz/

Meanwhile, things don’t seem to be going very well for Bysiewicz on the witness stand. Yesterday, the lawyer for the state Republican Party introduced different forms and written contentions in the past by Bysiewicz that she was not employed as a lawyer or didn’t practice law.

As The Shad has written before, the clearest way for Bysiewicz to get through all this is for the judge to declare unconstitutional the state statute that requires tens years of “active practice” of law to qualify for AG. Remember, currently one doesn’t even have to be a lawyer to be a probate judge in this state. And if she can get over these hurdles, she’ll likely win a primary for AG. She’s ahead in the polls, had great visible support at the big Jefferson, Jackson, Bailey dinner this week and can claim that no “good old boys” network can keep her down.