All fluff and no stuff

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Bob Fluff hath spoken from on-high.  Gather ’round.  His sermon rained down like a mess of fluffy feathers.   What was Norwalk’s State Rep and Senate Majority Leaders message?  In a press release?   The end of 67 days and no budget? No, of course not.  Update on progress?  Crickets as they say.  He takes the easy way out:  a warning about gas prices.  Go back and read that – high gas prices.  In response to the hurricane, Bob pontificates, “This is a warning to retailers, distributors and suppliers, we’re watching.  Don’t take advantage of the situation.  I am calling on the Department of Consumer Protection to keep a close eye out for unscrupulous behavior. We’re all in this together and no one should be gouged at the pump.”

Pathetic.  Bob Duff has zero clue on priorities even though he has been in office for 16 years.  The budget is required by LAW!  67 days past the due date!   Bob knows this is not the first budget rodeo as the budget is the number one objective for the past 2…4….8….12… 16 straight years.  You and I would be at day 67 of the unemployment line if we missed such a crucial deadline.  News flash Bob:  you are wasting your time with fluff about gas prices.  Besides, where is the press release on the amazing success of you “watching”?  How many gouging violations?  Who were the violators?  Who benefited and by how much?  Oh.  Wait.  You were just “watching,” not acting.  Got it.  Big difference but that is what I guess “Majority Leaders” do – watch; all while leading from the back of the pack.

But for today, let us say pricing is a concern.  What Bob fails to understand is supply and demand.  The Free-Market and Capitalism sets pricing, not his press releases.  Low gas supply, steady gas demand:  gas prices go up.  Period. Or do you think I lost him back at the word “pathetic”? Let’s talk gouging, shall we Bob?  Yes, gas price gouging.  Shut your Venezuelan Economics 101 book and listen:  Connecticut is the one gouging!  We have the sixth highest state gas taxes in the USA!

Let’s bring the cluelessness closer to home and combine his cloudy understanding of priorities, supply, demand and Fluff’s Word du Jour:  gouging.  I see Bob’s realtor listings is comprised of only 1 house – he’s representing a seller of a $379,000 home.  So tell me Bob, if multiple offers come in over asking – $409,000…$419,000 perhaps, (essentially demand > supply, right?) will you tell your client on Frances Avenue, “no deal, that’s gouging Mrs. Owner; Sold – $379,000 max”?!  Of course you take the highest price!  But again, his logic makes zero sense.   I can’t wait.  Bob’s next press release after reading Chapter 2 of that trusty Venezuelan Economics 101 textbook will be a “watch warning” to Connecticut’s own Nestle Waters which assuming we spend $1 on a 16.9-ounce bottle of water, we are effectively getting gouged $7.50 per gallon; 3,785 times more than you’d pay for the same amount of water from a faucet.   Or maybe it’ll be crickets again as Bob will christen that non-gouging?  Get used to it folks – we’ve got Fluff reigning down.  No substance.  No plan.  No clue.

Kevin Kane



Isabelle Hargrove September 10, 2017 at 9:08 am

Ronald Reagan rightful said, “The nine most terrifying words in the English language are: I’m from the government and I’m here to help …”

In Norwalk, it appears that the nine most terrifying words should be “I’m Bob Duff and I’m standing up for you”

John Levin September 10, 2017 at 10:19 am

Kevin, criticizing anyone about anything is easy. Why not offer even one constructive recommendation? One?

I will: our state has a budget crisis because it spends more than it takes in. I don’t know enough to recommend where to cut spending. But I know two great places to raise revenue: the gas tax that you complain about, and highway tolls. Gas prices right now are very low, and our highways, I-95 in particular, are quite crowded. Also, the US enjoys very low gas prices compared to other wealthy nations, for the most part because our gas taxes are so much lower. I recommend that Connecticut’s current gas tax be raised by 5.1 cents per gallon, which would have the effect of making our state’s taxes and fees on gasoline match those of neighboring New York state. That will raise money and help balance our state budget. By how much? I don’t know. Maybe a lot. But it is a step toward solving our problem.

Your turn, Kevin.

Donna Smirniotopoulos September 10, 2017 at 11:18 am

I’m inclined to agree with Kevin about Duff sounding the alarm on potential price gouging at the pump. On this subject, Duff has been all hat and no cattle. @John Levin, while increasing the gas tax can have a revenue positive impact on the state economy, gas taxes are regressive taxes. The poorer you are, the more these taxes hurt. And unlike spending on tobacco and alcohol, which is discretionary, gas spending is essential for most CT workers–especially given the dismal state of public transporation. I’d be reluctant to impose additional gas taxes on residents who are already struggling. I’ve thought about reinstating tolls, but tolls have the same impact as gas taxes. They disproportionately impact the poor. I’d like the state legislature to take up full legalization of marijuana as a means of creating a positive revenue stream. I realize for many this is a ghastly idea. But we need to put it in perspective. Marijuana use is widespread already. Even though medical marijuana is legal in CT, most casual users still make black market purchases. The state is missing out on tax revenue from the sale of weed. By the way, I’m not a fan. I just think it’s an idea the state needs to explore.

Thirty percent of state tax revenue, according to a July 2017 article in Atlantic Montly, comes from 0.02% of the population. The inherent risk in this formula is when the top 0.02% experience a drop in income–common among earners in finance whose income is subject to market fluctuations–the entire state suffers. According to the same article, people are leaving the state or not moving here to begin with. These are long term trends. Duff is a long term state senator. We can’t dismiss economic failings without looking at Duff.

Debora Goldstein September 10, 2017 at 1:46 pm

The essential difference between a gas tax and some other commodity taxes is that tax on fuel wins up as a tax on all retail purchases, even essentials like food, baby products, medicines, vitamins, etc.

That is because of the large distribution networks which rely on trucks to deliver product. It is doubly regressive to raise fuel taxes to drive a policy objective of trying to reduce dependence on fossil fuels without investing in alternatives to smooth the transition.

John Levin September 10, 2017 at 2:10 pm

Donna and Deborah, I think you make excellent points about 1) gas tax is regressive, and 2) gas tax filters through the economy, and becomes even more regressive. Yes, these are valid points. But if Donna/Atlantic Monthly are correct that 30% of state revenue comes from 0.02% of the population, then it seems our system already is quite progressive, and regressive taxes might be in order. Further, gas prices are now low. They are lower than they were 4 years ago. Raising our state’s gas tax to match New York State is a 5.1 cents per gallon increase. That is small, and smaller than a typical price fluctuation in a month. If there was a way to make gas taxes progressive, I would support that too. Also, I’m okay with regressive taxes if we find ways to return the money to low income workers. Maybe spend more on underperforming public schools? Or community health providers? There are ways.

Donna Smirniotopoulos September 10, 2017 at 3:39 pm

@John, the problem with 0.02% covering 30% of the revenue is the instability of that revenue stream. Those wages are highly subject to market fluctuations. It’s not a smart way for Hartford to fund a budget. There was no suggestion in that observation that existing state income tax is too progressive. It’s simply unreliable. And I don’t think more regressive taxes are a smart countermeasure to a too-progressive tax system, besides the fact that gas taxes do not have the desired effect of keeping cars off the roads. In Greece they used to ban driving on alternate days based on odd or even license plates. I suggest CT not emulate Greece, nor should we emulate our neighbor. New York has five times the population and a much bigger infrastructure to support. I don’t think anyone in CT is looking to NY for economic answers or advice on taxes.

Debora Goldstein September 10, 2017 at 5:14 pm

New York funds and maintains a robust public transportation system. It is possible for someone to avoid the gas tax at the pump. Here, it is inappropriate to suggest that the working poor plug the holes in our budget. Apples and oranges.

Isabelle Hargrove September 10, 2017 at 6:31 pm

@John Levin. To write that no ideas have been put forth to solve our fiscal problems is ludicrous and completely disingenuous. It is also why Democrats have lost all credibility. You may not like the ideas, but they exist and have been clearly spelled out by the Republican caucuses in the house and senate. They have had, for no less than 6 months now, a full budget proposal ready for a vote. Also, a slew of public policy organizations and numerous op-eds in national newspapers have also laid out constructive agendas to answer this crisis.

Donna Smirniotopoulos September 10, 2017 at 6:56 pm

@John Levin, while criticizing anyone IS easy, it’s not the job of Duff’s constituents to be responsible for coming up with good ideas. That is in fact Duff’s job. And we are right to give him a performance review, not only every second November at the polls, but during times of crisis. I voted for Duff in 2016. Ehlers did not seem to have his facts straight. But Duff, as a 16 year veteran of the State House, has been so ineffectual that early this year some were calling for the City to hire an advocate to speak for our interests in Hartford. Isn’t that advocate Duff?

While Hartford burns, Duff’s Opinion pieces are either abloom with sunny optimism or awash in dire warnings–watch out for those gas gougers folks! And the negative comments keep coming. If we’re looking for ideas to help solve the budget crisis, they should be coming from the guy we elected for that purpose.

Kevin Kane September 10, 2017 at 8:50 pm

John, thanks for the offer. Go back and read my letter. My one recommendation? Learn how pricing works by getting a fundamental understanding of supply and demand then establish the priority to follow the law. All laws. In this case, while the budget is “law” it really is not followed and there are no punishments and it is “legal” to stumble along as a State as we are now 70 days into this quagmire. One? How about across the board cuts of 7% on every budget. On $31b of spending, that’s a $2.2b budget hole plugged. 90 days for every manager to identify 7% and if not, you’re fired. How about for every day the budget goes past due, 1% cut in pay for State Reps. How about no building on State universities for 10 years? I’ll gladly pay higher taxes – IF I get a good value for my dollar; currently I am not. You and many people immediately go to the easy part: simply raise taxes. We have a spending problem, not a revenue problem. Tolls and gas tax increase? OK maybe but these idiots can’t even agree to a transportation lock box. We’re did the cigarette lawsuit money go? http://www.ct.gov/sustinet/lib/sustinet/taskforces/tobaccotaskforce/07012010report/appendix_4tobaccostudy.pdf

As of 2009 Connecticut has received nearly $1.29 billion from the settlement since
distributions began in Fiscal Year 2000.
 Of that, only $23 million, or less than 2% of the total Tobacco
Settlement Funds, have been used on programs specific to reducing
the number of smokers or anti-tobacco efforts.
 86% of Tobacco Settlement funds, $1.1 billion, ended up in the
General Fund for unrestricted spending.

Rick September 12, 2017 at 4:02 pm

Alexion Pharmaceuticals Inc. is moving its headquarters to Boston from New Haven, pulling out a key support from under Connecticut’s fledgling bioscience industry, while promising to return millions in state aid that helped the startup transform itself into a $3 billion enterprise.

They say now kids from Ct go to college and don’t return back to Ct one reason these companies are leaving there are no workers.

This was no surprise ,Bob you have seen this news well before the rest of us whats the deal?

How is that automated parking garage doing on Wall st. in Norwalk it was the only thing you were going to get done afar the big hoopla over the Theatre .

Someone has pointed out unless the Who is going to play there soon the doors will be shut soon.

So much for a wall st comeback.

Its gotta be a democratic type sickness that hit Norwalk years ago.It was probably the ice cream that was the carrier,

Looks like Ct has no incentives left, our money was no good.

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