WEDNESDAY MORNING UPDATE

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

Rob Simmons

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.

DEBATE SCRAPPED

Plainfield Town Hall

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.

HOUSING CLASH

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?

Pawcatuck Middle School

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.

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