Chiaramonte Slams Duff on Crime, Spending; Duff Responds

Republican Jack Chiaramonte, left, and Democratic state Sen. Bob Duff, right, spar recently as the debate over who will represent Norwalk and part of Darien in District 25 for the next two years.

Updated, 10:20 p.m. Monday

NORWALK, Conn. – Jack Chiaramonte is making a late election-season push in his drive to unseat state Sen. Bob Duff (D-District 25), with flyers arriving in mailboxes daily.

The latest headlines? “Liberal Bob Duff Voted for $2.6 billion in Higher Taxes!” and “Bob Duff is So Liberal He Gave Child Molesters and Rapists a Get Out of Jail Free Card.”

The men touched on both of these topics in their Oct. 15 debate at City Hall, organized by the League of Women Voters.

First came the higher tax rate. “I am a small businessman in SoNo,” Chiaramonte said, adding that many businesses around him were suffering. He held up an article from Barron’s magazine, which he said reported that Connecticut is the worst state to do business in. “Our financials are ridiculous,” he said. “We cannot go on this way.”

“We had to make some very difficult choices over the last two years in order to  balance the budget,” Duff said.

With Connecticut dealing with one of the highest per capita deficits in the nation, Gov. Dannel Malloy and the legislature took a three-prong approach, he said, including $2 billion in cuts, $1 billion in concessions from state employees, and additional revenue from taxes.

Other states pushed the pain down to the municipalities, he said. “They did not increase revenues on the state level but they made massive cuts to education funding and their municipal funding, which included 20 to 30 percent property taxes in their communities,” he said.

Concessions from state employees resulted in $21 million in savings over 20 years, Duff said, adding that former Gov. Jodi Rell had done some of that, too.

The difficult budget was supported by major companies, including Aetna and ATT, he said. “They saw it as way to stabilize finances in the state and move on, and grow jobs in the state,” he said.

Chiaramonte would have none of it. “You raised taxes $1.8 million, while you did that gave state unions four year no layoff clause,” he said. “In this economy?

“The whole purpose was to prevent future deficits. We’re not even to 2013, we’re $26.5 million in the hole, and we’re predicted to be another $200 million. This whole thing that you’re going to prevent future deficits by taxing us was wrong. We in the state here are living hand to mouth.”

“I guess you would have supported cutting education funding for the city and for statewide,” Duff retorted. “In addition, we finally fully funded our pension programs for the first time in years.

“The 4-year no-layoff clause was in exchange for health care and pension changes that will save $21 million over 20 years. I think that’s real savings for people in the state of Connecticut.”

Duff said there are 5 percent fewer state employees than there were two years ago. The employees don’t see the no-layoff clause as a gift, he said, as they voted against the contract the first time it was presented. ‘The deal didn’t change, they voted yes,” he said. “This is not something that they felt was in their best interests. They did it because they knew if they didn’t do it they were going to get laid off.”

Duff’s response to the charge about letting violent offenders out early?

“It must be awfully easy to just kind of throw out … what you think are facts,” he said. “There is no way – whether you’re Democrat, Republican or anything in between – that you would ever vote to release violent offenders. The people he is talking about would have been released even earlier if we didn’t have the risk reduction credit program in place. They actually stayed in longer because of this program.”

“One criminal has already gotten out and shot a merchant, a family man who ran a little food store,” Chiaramonte said. “One of the people who got out early on your vote. I don’t see how you justify any time at all when you let a third strike violent criminal out early.”

(I talked to Jack briefly on the phone Saturday – he was driving – and then sent him an email asking for details. He didn’t get back to me.)

Duff said during the debate that he had a letter from the state of Connecticut Commissioner Department of Corrections. “It says I can assure that these credits will not result in the early release of any dangerous violent offenders,” he said. “It goes on to say that the folks that you reference were not released as a result of this risk reduction credit. In fact, it says that they would have been released earlier had this program not in place.”

(I sent Bob an email Saturday asking for the letter. He didn’t get back to me, but posted it on his website Monday. The link is above.)

Chiaramonte said in the debate, “Across the board he voted to let sex offenders, violent criminals, and three strike violent criminals out for early release and we are already seeing the repercussions on what’s happening out of that. We have revolving door justice in this state; 10 percent of the criminals are doing 90 percent of the crime. Because they know crime pays. They get caught they’re going to be released early or they’re going to get out of it. These are not our values. I just don’t understand how Sen. Duff could have voted to let this happen.”

Duff said crime in the state is down about 44 percent over the last 30 years.

“We’re talking about cutting spending and trying to save dollars,” he said. “One of the largest expenses in the state is our prisons. We spend about $800 million a year on prison population. We have seen crime go down, we have been able to close two prisons, hopefully we’ll close additional prisons as well.”

The program in question takes nonviolent offenders and puts them in programs that reduce recidivism and reduces costs, and is one of the most conservative programs of the 46 states that are doing something similar, he said. Connecticut’s program is more conservative than the one operated by the state of Texas, he said.

“We had truth in sentencing,” Duff said. “We do not have a revolving door for justice. People have to serve 85-90 percent of their prison terms in order to be eligible for parole.”

“You can sneak up on a mirror, you’re reflection always looks you in the face,” Chiaramonte said. “… This is how you save money? It is deplorable. You do not let violent criminals out early.”


One response to “Chiaramonte Slams Duff on Crime, Spending; Duff Responds”

  1. John Frank sr

    Once again, Jack got part of a story and ran with it. When it comes to child molesters and rapists, Bob Duff is more conservative than Jack and would never vote for early release.

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