Wednesday roundup

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  • State Senator Martin Looney continues to fight to protect the rights of the public who videotape the police.

    Despite a legislative setback, Martin Looney vows to keep working to give people like Luis Luna another weapon when cops wrongfully arrest them for turning on their cameras.

    For the second year in a row, New Haven state Sen. Looney's bill protecting people's rights to film cops hit a wall in the state House of Representatives. Looney said he's ready to try again next year, with a different strategy.

    Senate Bill No. 245 was one of many left on the cutting room floor as the state legislative session closed on May 9. The bill would have allowed people to sue cops who try to stop them from filming police in action. It was inspired by incidents like the unlawful arrest of Luis Luna while he filmed cops on Crown Street two years ago, in which a top cop ordered evidence destroyed.

    This year was the second time Looney has introduced such a bill. Both times, the matter cleared the Senate and died in the House.

    State Rep. Gary Holder Winfield said the bill was one of many casualties of an unrelated last-minute disagreement over minimum-wage and the jobs bills, which backed up a lot of legislation. He said he'll work with Looney to pass the police-cameras bill next year.

  • Lawmakers look back on the fight to repeal the death penalty.

    Sen. Eric Coleman of Bloomfield and Rep. Gary Holder-Winfield of New Haven recounted the twists and turns leading up to this years vote at a "Drinking Liberally" gathering Tuesday in Windsor.

    Coleman said there were some who were hesitant to raise the bill this year, but Holder-Winfield-as he was in 2009 when he got it passed only to see it vetoed by then Gov. M. Jodi Rell-was persistent.

    "Believe it or not as long as the death penalty was an issue there were still people who professed to be on the fence about the issue," Coleman said.

    Those fence-sitters caused Coleman to receive daily questions from his leadership about where certain Senators stood. He said leadership didn't want to have Lt. Gov. Nancy Wyman have to break a tie vote, even though she was prepared to do it if it came to that.

    "We wanted it to be a Democratic initiative and the Democratic majority being responsible for the passage of the repeal bill," Coleman said.

    Coleman credited the 180 victims families who spoke out in favor of repeal. He also credited a visit to Connecticut's death row arranged by Sen. President Donald Williams for the three Senators who were still on the fence.

  • PELTO: "Vermont Put Their Children First...Why Didn't Connecticut?"

    As U.S. Secretary of Education prepared to come to Connecticut to announce that he had granted Governor Dannel Malloy's request for a federal waiver on the No Child Left Behind Law, the Brattleboro Reformer newspaper's headline read; Vermont Drops Request for No Child.

    Vermont's State Board of Education was one of the 37 states to request a waiver but later voted to withdraw its application when it became clear that the state would not be allowed to develop its own "measurements for progress and teacher qualifications."

    Stephan Morse, Vermont's Board of Education Chairman, said that they decided to drop the waiver request because "there was no room to do much of anything under the waiver. All of the requirements of No Child Left Behind remained in place."

    The Brattleboro Reformer newspaper reported that Vermont state officials had engaged in "a series of time-consuming negotiations as it attempted to create its own system of measurement and accountability that relied less on standardized tests and punitive actions against teachers, administrators and schools."

    However, according to the reports, "it became more and more apparent that the U'S Department of Education would not be willing to budge on many of Vermont's requests, and so when the latest letter arrived in Montpelier asking for more details the State Board of Education decided to cut its losses and move on."

    So yesterday, as Vermont's children, parents, teachers and school administrators breathed a big sigh of relief that Vermont was not going to jump from the "standardized testing frying pan into the standardized testing fire," Education Secretary Arne Duncan flew to Connecticut so that he and Governor Malloy could announce that Connecticut would go where Vermont was smart enough not to go.

  • OIB: "Why Andres Ayala Is A Threat To Win The State Senate Primary"

    It's been a long time since a Democratic primary to decide a State Senate seat in the city featured three candidates all with an equal chance at victory. In Connecticut's 23rd Senatorial Ernie Newton has been endorsed, Ed Gomes is the incumbent and State Rep. Andres Ayala should have enough financial firepower and organizational support to put himself in play to win the Aug. 14 primary. Any of these candidates can win.

    Ayala brings to the table his East Side legislative base, albeit the lowest turnout area of the city in a heavily Latino district. The senate district has roughly 28,200 registered Dems comprising about 70 percent of Bridgeport and another 2,200 in the western portion of Stratford. If Democratic primary turnout trends continue, roughly 20 percent of the electorate, representing about 6,000 voters, will turn out. It means 2,000 votes can win this primary.

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