Archive | October, 2012

Merrill Upbeat for Tuesday’s Election, But 100 Polling Places Remain Without Power

By Keith M. Phaneuf

HARTFORD — Secretary of the State Denise W. Merrill was optimistic Wednesday about the prospect of an orderly Election Day next Tuesday, though she warned that her office continues to monitor nearly 100 polling places — and possibly more — that remain out of power.

Connecticut’s chief elections official also said that despite the massive flood damage along the shoreline and the widespread power outages, none of Connecticut’s communities have sought to relocate polling places.

“The election will go on,” Merrill told Capitol reporters during a midday news conference, adding that municipal officials showed in recent meetings they are ready to press on with Tuesday’s vote.

“They seem to be carrying on,” she said. “Most of the town halls are up and running.”

Merrill noted that a nor’easter featuring massive winds and up to 2 feet of snow throughout much of Connecticut hit the state last year on Oct. 29 — the same date Sandy arrived this year. “It feels like we had sort of a dress rehearsal,” she said.

State law doesn’t have any provision for postponing the election, and Merrill noted that all election machines are capable of functioning on battery power.

There are 773 polling places statewide spread across the state’s 169 cities and towns.

Connecticut Light & Power, which provides electric service to about 80 percent of the state’s residences and businesses, has confirmed that about 100 polling places in its service area lack power, Merrill said.

But there could be even more places out of power. Merrill said she hadn’t received a report as of noon Wednesday from United Illuminating, which serves some or all of 17 communities along the shoreline in central and western Connecticut.

UI spokesman Michael West said the utility hadn’t received a list of municipal polling places within its territory until 11 a.m. Wednesday, and began an immediate assessment. “We’re working on that list,” he said, adding that UI hopes to complete that assessment later today.

Merrill added that she remains confident the state’s electric utilities are making restoration of power at polling places a top priority.

No communities have sought to shift polling places to date. “So far people aren’t making that call yet,” Merrill said, adding that such a move would be “very confusing” for many voters. Half of all communities have just one polling place.

Another major concern, the secretary said, is getting absentee ballots to those residents who may be stuck in their homes because of flooding, downed power lines or fallen trees.

State law allows voters to cast absentee ballots for a number of reasons, including illness and disability, conflicting military duties and various responsibilities that could force a voter to be out of town.

But the state Constitution does not allow for what has been termed “no excuses” absentee balloting, or allowing a voter to cast an absentee ballot for just any reason. “It’s still a frustration to me personally,” Merrill said, adding that “we do have a law on the way to fix that.”

The legislature adopted a resolution last spring to begin the process of amending the Constitution to allow this and other modifications to election law. But because the House and Senate each failed to pass the measure with at least a three-fourths majority, it must be considered a second time.

If it is adopted again in the 2013 legislative session — even if only by a bare majority in each chamber — then the proposed constitutional amendment would go before voters for potential ratification during the 2014 state elections.

The deadline for potential voters to register to cast a ballot on Election Day originally was this past Tuesday, but Gov. Dannel P. Malloy extended that deadline until 8 p.m. Thursday, because of the hurricane. Merrill said she has had discussions with the governor about another extension through Friday, but no decision has been made yet.

Residents who fail to meet the registration deadline still can cast a ballot for president only. Under state law, citizens can obtain a presidential ballot at town or city hall from their municipal clerk up to the close of business on Election Day.

Merrill declined to speculate on how the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy could impact Election Day turnout.

“There’s no way of telling.” In some communities, with little damage and almost no outages “by Tuesday this could be a memory in many places” but “certainly not along the shoreline and probably not in Fairfield County. It didn’t change turnout much last year.”

Follow Keith on Twitter.

This article was first published at

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Reminder: Voter Registration Extended to Nov. 1

HARTFORD — Eligible Connecticut voters who want to cast a ballot in the Nov. 6 presidential election now have until Thursday at 8:00 p.m. to register to vote in person at their town offices.

The extended deadline was set by an executive order issued by Because of Tropical Storm Sandy, Gov. Dannel P. Malloy on Sunday moved the deadline to Nov. 1.

Following the massive damage left by the storm in some parts of Connecticut, Secretary of the State Denise Merrill will also be coordinating a conference call with hundreds of local election officials at 10:00 a.m. today to assess how severely impacted election preparations are as a result of the storm. She will hold a press conference at noon to give an update.

“Hurricane Sandy is clearly a major disaster for our state, and while many residents are just trying to pick up the pieces, our Presidential election is less than a week away,” said Merrill. “We wanted to make sure that everyone was aware of the fact that there are two extra days to register to vote if you want to cast a ballot on Nov. 6th, thanks to Governor Malloy’s executive order. I urge anyone who has not yet registered to take advantage of this opportunity if you can. We are also now in the assessment mode and will guide our election administration partners on the local level through the difficulties presented by this serious storm. After this morning’s conference call we will be able to see how many polling places lack power, and where help is needed.”

State law allows polling place locations to be changed prior to an election if both Democratic and Republican Registrars of voters agree to a plan to move or consolidate polling precincts. Similar decisions were made in the aftermath of the rare October snowstorm in 2011 that also took place one week before the general election.

Registrars and town clerks have also offered to help colleagues who lack electric power by offering their own office space to print and prepare voter lists, and enter newly registered voters into the Connecticut Voter Registration System.

Any eligible voter in Connecticut – a United States citizen who is a resident of the state aged 18 or over – can register to vote in person until Nov. 1, if they want to cast a ballot in the Nov.6, 2012 presidential election.

Please visit to download voter registration forms, see if you are registered to vote, see where your polling place is located, or download an application for an absentee ballot.

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Hartford Escapes Severe Impact of Hurricane Sandy

By Fran Wilson, Staff Writer

HARTFORD — Hartford escaped the brute force of Hurricane Sandy on Monday, but about 1,600 residents were reportedly still without power, city officials said on Tuesday.

The National Weather Service downgraded Hurricane Sandy to a Tropical Storm. But the wind and rising tide from Tropical Sandy devastated parts of Southern Connecticut and the shoreline area close to Long Island Sound.

In Hartford on Main Street,  lights were on and many businesses were opened. The Connecticut Science Center  also opened at noon on Tuesday. All transit buses were operating in Greater Hartford. Outside the Hartford Public Library, a few children played on the steps, while they waited for the library to open. However, city officials closed all libraries, schools and city hall on Monday and Tuesday. They will reopen on Oct. 31.

As of noon on Tuesday, two percent of Hartford residents had power outage, according to Connecticut Light and Power.

The YMCAs in Greater Hartford were also closed. They will reopen on Oct. 31.

Although no uprooted trees or downed wires reported in the city,  one street light at the intersection of Blue Hills and Tower avenues was damaged. By 1 p.m. Tuesday, crews were already on the scene repairing the light.

Mayor Pedro Segarra said many damages were mitigated because of the emergency preparation.

“The City of Hartford was not hit as hard as other cities and towns in Connecticut but our preparation greatly mitigated the impact of Hurricane Sandy on our residents and will facilitate a quick and efficient recovery,” Segarra said. “We had all emergency crews activated early and we aggressively communicated to our residents the status of the storm at all times.”

In addition, Segarra said families can move forward with their Halloween plans. Now we are in full recovery and response mode and we are doing everything possible to return to normalcy. ”

The City of Hartford is extending Police and Fire Mutual Aid to other towns and cities in need of these particular recovery services, Segarra said.

Below are updates for Hartford residents and a list of what the city has done to address damage.

  • The Emergency Operating Center will remain operational until 3pm at City Hall, on the Third Floor.
  • A total of 20 fire vehicles traversed all 17 neighborhoods of the City of Hartford to assess roadways, walkways, and general safety concerns. All identified hazards are currently being prioritized and will be mitigated by Hartford employees, third party contractors, and CL&P.
  • Police Department is fully staffed and standing by at all CL&P locations. Service continues without any disruption from the storm.
  • City Forestry crew was deployed, supported by over 60 staff from Streets, Parks and Sanitation to assist with forestry and debris removal activities.
  • Licenses and Inspections Division staff is on call and responding as requests come in. Reported damages have been minimal.
  • As of 1:00PM, 1,600 still have no power; down from a peak of 3,500 during the storm.
  • We had a total of 9 people use City shelters. The shelters are now closed.
  • Trash collection will resume tomorrow, Wednesday, October 31, operating on a holiday schedule.
  • There are no reported deaths in Hartford due to the storm.
  •  Governor Malloy has reopened the Highways.
  • All Hartford Public Schools and City Offices will be open tomorrow Wednesday, October 31.

 Reporting by Ann-Marie Mesquita, Rhoan Wilson, and Rosa Perez.

DEEP RIVER24172417100
EAST GRANBY260385632
EAST HADDAM4821457394
EAST HAMPTON6078248940
EAST HARTFORD23151497421
EAST LYME9488921697
NEW BRITAIN341812850.83
NEW CANAAN8375604372
NEW HARTFORD3237214266
NEW LONDON13736616944
NEW MILFORD13743860062
OLD LYME5454467185
OLD SAYBROOK6822327748
ROCKY HILL97611651
WEST HARTFORD28060417514
Total Customers Affected45664936


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DMV Resumes Emission Testing

WETHERSFIELD – Department of Motor Vehicles has announced that emissions testing will resume statewide at noon for all stations able to do testing.

Consult or call 888-828-8399 for a list of testing stations.

Consumers are encouraged to call the selected station before visiting to determine whether it is operating. For further information, consumers can visit

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Police Union President Dies ‘Unexpectedly’

HARTFORD — Mayor Pedro E. Segarra and Chief of Police James C. Rovella on Monday announced the untimely death of Sgt.  Richard Rodriguez, Jr., the president of the Police Union.

t Rodriguez has served the City of Hartford since 1990, first as a Police and Fire Dispatcher then as a Police Officer. He joined the department and graduated from the police academy in 1996.  He spent many years active with the Hartford Police Union including six years as the Union President.

City officials said his passing is a great loss for the city.

“It is with great sadness that I announce the death of Sergeant Richard Rodriguez.  Sergeant Rodriguez was found deceased in his home earlier today.  The circumstances of his untimely death are currently under investigation. At this point foul play is not suspected,” Rovella said

To honor Rodriguez’s service to the city and the police department, sworn personnel are expected to cover their badges with the black mourning bands until the day of the funeral.

Funeral arrangements are pending and further information will be forthcoming.

City officials will lower its flags to half-staff until conclusion of the funeral.

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Hurricane Sandy is Here, One to Three Inches of Rainfall for Hartford

Updated Tuesday, Oct. 30, 2012 at 11: 36 a.m.

HARTFORD –By 6 p.m. on Monday, the full brunt of Hurricane Sandy was in Connecticut.

According to the National Weather Service, wind gust was expected to barge into Connecticut at 75 miles per hour along the shoreline through 10 p.m. And there might be 1 to 3 inches of rain inland. Widespread power line and tree damage were expected throughout the night, and the worst of it will be along the shoreline.

By 6 p.m. Hartford had experienced mostly rain and wind gusts. City officials announced closings of schools and city hall.

Earlier on Monday, downtown city stores still had power and opened for business, namely Spiritus, Salute and Al’s. Some residents said they see very little evidence of the storm in Hartford.

At about 2 p.m. the city of Hartford was still preparing for an impending storm that, although shifted to the left of Connecticut, will affect the state’s shoreline and Southern Connecticut.

Mayor Pedro Segarra has ordered city offices closed on Monday and Tuesday. And in the wake of strong wind and flooding in several parts of the state, Gov. Dannel Malloy has banned trucks from coming into the state and most vehicles off the highways and major roads.

According to the National Weather Service, Hurricane Sandy could move in at 90 miles per hour in New Jersey and Pennsylvania.

The worse of the storm has yet to come, state officials said.

The worst of the storm hasn’t hit the East Coast yet, but there is some all-too-scary loss of human life to report already, officials said.

According to the Associated Press,  about 65 people have died in the Caribbean, mostly in Haiti. The damage to several islands thus far have been estimated to reach up to $10 billion.

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Hartford Mayor Declares Public Emergency

Updated: Sunday, Oct 28, 2012 at 11:16 p.m.

HARTFORD — Hartford Mayor Pedro Segarra has issued a public emergency declaration for Hartford.

All city of Hartford offices will be closed on Monday, when the storm is expected to affect central Connecticut. Hurricane winds are expected to mostly impact Fairfield County and the shoreline in the New London area, according to National Weather Centers.

The mayor has said that only essential city workers are to report to work.  And all schools will be closed on Monday.

Earlier on Sunday, Gov. Dannel Malloy  requested that President Barack Obama declare a pre-landfall emergency in Connecticut.  This declaration allows the state to request funding and other assistance in advance of the storm impacting the state.

“Hurricane Sandy is a serious threat to our state and this declaration will allow us to request federal funding and other assistance in Connecticut in advance of the storm,” Malloy said.  “When I spoke with President Obama this afternoon, it was clear that he and other federal emergency management officials are taking this threat as seriously as we are.  As the hours go by, we are more and more certain that Hurricane Sandy will have a substantial impact on our state and I do not want to wait to get this process going.”

On Sunday evening,  Malloy announced that he has ordered all non-essential state employees not to report into work on Monday, in response to the impending severe impact of Hurricane Sandy on Connecticut.

“After having consulted with state agency officials and our weather forecasters, I am ordering all non-essential state employees to stay home Monday,” Malloy said.  “Actually, I’m not a fan of that term – to me, everyone who works is important, but that’s the term that’s used.  So if you’re designated as non-essential, stay home.  If you’re designated as essential, then report to work.”

Malloy was speaking directly to residents on the Connecticut shoreline.


Further announcements will be made as the storm progresses through the state during the coming days.

Download: Governor Malloy’s request for a pre-landfall emergency in Connecticut


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Deadline to Register to Vote Approaches

HARTFORD — The final deadline to register to vote in person at the upcoming general election is Oct. 30.

Secretary of State office has reported that the number of registered voters in Connecticut continues to rise, with another 62,000 new voters registering in the last month and nearly 153,000 new voters registering so far in 2012.

“The leaders we choose to serve us in Hartford and Washington, D.C. will have great impact on our state for years.  We have many competitive races, and every vote is going to count in 2012,” Merrill said. “Time is running out to register, so I encourage everyone concerned with the direction of our country and our state to register to vote now so you can cast a ballot on November 6th.”

Secretary Merrill also reported today that the total number of registered voters in Connecticut is 2,045,689.  The largest group of registered voters in Connecticut is unaffiliated, accounting for 851,631 voters.  There are 751,522 registered Democrats and 425,106 registered Republicans.

Since the beginning of this year, at least 152,930 Connecticut residents have become newly registered voters.  Of those, there are 53,264 new Democrats, compared to 26,768 new Republicans and 68,998 new unaffiliated voters.  Once again, young voters between the ages of 18-29 represent the largest number of newly registered voters, with more than 67,290 registering since the beginning of this year.

For more information about Connecticut’s safe, easy, and secure optical scan voting system and to download voter registration and absentee ballot forms, find out if you are registered to vote and where your polling place is,


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Hartford to Hold Small Business Workshops

HARTFORD — The Office of Procurement Services Unit, the Economic Development Division, the Spanish American Merchants Association (SAMA) and HEDCO’s Business Resource Center (BRC) will host a workshop titled “Insurance Needs from Personal to Business” to walk business owners through the process of obtaining and affording insurance.

The workshop is part of the City of Hartford’s “Small Business Workshop Series.”


WHO:                   City of Hartford, SAMA, BRC

WHAT:                 Small Business Workshop Series:  “Insurance Needs From Personal to Business”

WHEN:                 Wednesday, October 31st, 6:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m.

WHERE:               City Hall Function Room (2nd Floor), 550 Main Street in Downtown Hartford

WHY:                    The City of Hartford Procurement Services Unit works closely with small firms and minority and women business enterprises (MWBE) in contracting construction services and procurement of goods and services.


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Eye on Elections: Muslim Voters Disappointed, Wary

New America Media Interview by Hana Baba

SAN FRANCISCO – There are an estimated 8 million Muslim Americans living in the United States, with close to 100,000 in the San Francisco Bay Area. Four years ago, an overwhelming majority of them — close to 90 percent — voted for President Obama.

But Javed Ali, founder and publisher of Illume Media based the East Bay city of Newark, says that same support may not be there this time around. “They are not as enthusiastic [about Obama],” Ali said.

Pointing to disappointment over the president’s policies, he noted many in the community “are feeling a bit disenfranchised … The drone strikes have intensified, Guantanamo hasn’t been closed yet … so they feel that President Obama has let them down.”

Still, despite misgivings, Ali said it’s unlikely Muslim Americans will once again put their support behind the GOP, as they did in the initial weeks and months following the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

“Historically … Muslims have aligned themselves with the Republican Party because they felt their values were closely aligned,” Ali explained. “But a change has happened, especially in the post-9/11 world … I don’t think they’re going back to the Republican Party, mainly because it seems like the Republican Party has adopted an agenda that is anti-Muslim.”

With disappointment directed at both sides of the political divide, one would expect to see a level of voter apathy among Muslim Americans. But that’s not the case, said Ali, who notes engagement is growing.

“We’ve seen … a rise in the level of engagement when it comes to American Muslims, both online and offline,” he said. “There have been debate parties here in San Francisco and cities across the country. Mosques and Muslim organizations have mobilized mosque-goers and the youth.”

He admits, though, that some do plan to withhold their vote.

But with the race less than two weeks away and most polls showing both candidates running neck and neck, Ali said the Muslim American vote, especially in key swing states, could be critical.

Pointing to a recent study on Muslim American political sentiment, he noted there are “about 1.2 million American Muslims who are registered voters,” many of them in battleground states. “We have seen a rise in the level of engagement … I don’t think there’s going to be a lower turnout overall.”

CORRECTION: In his interview, Ali mistakenly referred to Aziz Ansari, a well-know comedian, as the 18-year old candidate running for mayor in Fremont, California. The candidate’s correct name is Aziz Akbari.

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