NO TEETH IN ETHICS LAW
Four Norwich Public Utilities officials, including General Manager John Bilda, will not have to reimburse the city for an all-expense paid trip last year to the Kentucky Derby. The Norwich Board of Public Utilities Commissioners last night unanimously accept the recommendations made by a hired Newington attorney who has reviewed the matter. Anthony Palermino says the city’s ethics commission, which called for the reimbursements, doesn’t have the authority to do that. He says the city shouldn’t receive the money anyway, since the trip was paid for by the local energy cooperative. Bilda says he will donate 15-thousand dollars to the Thames Valley Council for Community Action’s heating assistance program, and hopes the Derbygate issue has been put to bed. He says criticism of him has been deserved and he apologized again. Attorney Palermino’s report recommends, among other things, increased ethics training for NPU employees, a concise and easy-to-understand travel policy at the utility, as well as a letter in Bilda’s personnel file outlining the utility commission’s concerns.
BUCKING THE TREND
The FBI reports violent crime nationally was up in 2016 while property crime was slightly down. By comparison, from Waterford to Stonington, local police departments reported less violent crime in 2016 than in the previous year, with some logging an uptick in property crime. The exception is New London, where violent and property crime rates jumped by 26.3 and 17 percent, respectively. The data show assaults and larcenies were major factors in the city’s increased crime rates. Groton City, Groton Town, and Waterford all saw jumps in the category, which includes burglaries, larcenies, vehicle thefts and arson. In Groton City, burglaries increased more than 200 percent, from 9 in 2015 to 29 in 2016.
TOWN MEETING IN PRESTON
Voters in Preston will hold a town meeting Thursday night at 7:30, at the Preston Veterans Memorial School. Residents will get the chance to discuss a $3.84 million dollar five-year capital spending plan for town and school vehicles and projects, before the question is forwarded to voters for an Oct. 10 referendum.
SIMMONS SAYS NO
Stonington First Selectman Rob Simmons has rejected a challenge by his Democratic opponent George Crouse that they limit their respective campaign fundraising to $6,000 each. Crouse, who was defeated by Simmons in 2015, issued a statement saying the limit would stop big money and outside groups from influencing the election. Simmons said he would not limit his fundraising. While neither Crouse nor Democratic Town Committee Chairman Scott Bates could point to outside big money groups that influenced Simmons’ campaign in 2015 or could in November, Bates said special interest money are trying to influence the outcome of elections across the country, even down to the local level.
PAVING ALMOST FINISHED
The Public Works Department is hoping to be done with final grading today on the streets scheduled for repaving in downtown Niantic. The first layer of asphalt is planned to begin on Monday, Oct. 2nd and should take approximately 4-5 days to complete. The pavers are scheduled to come back starting around October 23rd weather dependent, to install the top layer of asphalt which will take 4-5 days as well. Residents with questions or who would like to discuss a specific issue in front of their house can call the department at (860) 691-4118.
A first selectman candidates debate in Plainfield was canceled after two of the four candidates backed out. Vickie Meyer and Cathy Tendrich released a joint letter announcing their withdrawals saying they requested information on the format, duration and rules of the debate, but information was never provided. The debate was scheduled for Oct. 19.
TRIMMING MAY DELAY BUSES
East Lyme officials say the trimming and cutting of trees on Interstate 95 South between East Lyme and Old Lyme may lead to delays for afternoon school buses. The school district will be notifying parents and guardians through the Infinite Campus messenger system if buses will be late by more than 20 minutes.
About 75 low income and elderly residents packed a small New London community room on Tuesday in an emotional protest over suggestions of privatization of the New London Housing Authority, displacing residents, raising rents or layoffs of Housing Authority employees. Housing Authority Executive Director Roy Boling, told the residents the financial position of the Housing Authority “has never been stronger. The commission has applied for Section 8 vouchers and is expected to move residents out by the end of the year.
MIDDLE SCHOOL MERGER?
The Middle School Consolidation Committee releases a report saying the town of Stonington would save up to $1 million a year by closing Pawcatuck Middle School and housing all middle school students at a renamed Mystic Middle School. The report says the former Middle School could become a new home for school district administrators and as a community center. The committee plans to present its recommendations to the school board this fall with possible implementation for the 2018-19 school year. The committee will hold a series of staff and public forums to get input on the possible consolidation.