Sunday, February 26, 2012

Scumbags Paid w/ Tax Dollars

How many "important people" are getting paid 6 figures in tax dollars who aren't required to do any work, or even show up for work? I think there is a lot of State and Federal Taxpayer defrauding going on in the State of Connecticut. Police Officers are often racists if they are White Males. The same seems to go for White Male judges in the State of Connecticut. Why do we the people continually allow these elites to rip us off? Why do we all those who align themselves with international corporations and banks so much power to continue to rip us off?

-stevengerickson At

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Feds Subpoena Anti-Poverty Agency's Records
[re-posted from the Hartford Court, source]
Jon Lender Government Watch

The U.S. attorney's office in Connecticut has subpoenaed records from Hartford's regional anti-poverty agency, the Community Renewal Team, which already had been under investigation by the state's attorney general, The Courant has learned.

Several sources said the subpoena from the office of U.S. Attorney David B. Fein, the top federal prosecutor in this state, was served days after a Feb. 12 Government Watch column was published in The Courant. The column reported that Paul Puzzo, CEO of the Community Renewal Team until 2005, has been receiving at least $85,000 a year as the agency's vice president — but he rarely appears at the office, doesn't have a desk there, and now spends significant time at a waterfront condominium unit he and his wife own in Florida.

In two recent years, his annual compensation exceeded $100,000 as vice president of business development and community affairs — a position created when he stepped down as CEO in 2005, according to CRT's Form 990 returns to the IRS as a nonprofit, tax-exempt organization. CRT has not responded to Courant questions about what steps it has taken to document that Puzzo works an average of 35 hours a week — which the agency has reported to the IRS in annual filings that maintain its tax-exempt status.

The Courant's sources did not verify which specific records are being sought under the subpoena that was served at CRT's headquarters at 555 Windsor St., Hartford.

A spokesman for the U.S. attorney's office, Thomas Carson, said he would not "confirm or deny" the existence of a subpoena or an investigation. Although it is a prosecutorial agency, the U.S. attorney's office also conducts certain non-criminal inquiries.

CRT would not answer inquiries about any federal investigation, referring all questions Friday to Hartford lawyer R. Bartley Halloran. Halloran has experience as a criminal defense attorney representing clients under government investigation. His firm is not among those that normally represent the CRT.

Reached Friday, Halloran said, "Unfortunately, I can't comment on this one way or the other."

Prior to the federal prosecutor's recent subpoena, the office of state Attorney General George Jepsen had already been conducting an investigation into CRT operations. Jepsen has refused to talk about it, but numerous sources have said that his office has been looking into reports of possible misuse of federal or state grant funds, which make up the vast majority of the nonprofit agency's $80 million annual budget.

The administrative inquiry by Jepsen's office came to light in recent weeks, after the Jan. 29 disclosure in The Courant of the resignation under duress of Trish Donovan, CRT's $100,000-plus chief operating officer.

Donovan claimed in a Jan. 15 letter to CRT's governing board that current CEO Lena Rodriguez forced her to resign after accusing Donovan of improper behavior. Donovan denied impropriety and said her ouster came because she furnished documents to, and cooperated with, state auditors.

The auditors were looking into an April 2011 complaint by a former CRT employee that money was being diverted improperly inside the agency from one grant program to another. The auditors say that they handed off the case — referred to in state law as a "whistleblower" complaint, because it involves an employee "blowing the whistle" about alleged improprieties where he or she works — to Jepsen's office in September.

The CRT board's chairman, Fernando Betancourt, said Donovan's claims were "nothing more than the views of a disgruntled former employee" and denied the misuse of grant money or any other irregularities.

Meanwhile, another whistleblower complaint was filed last Thursday by two current or former CRT employees, covering some of the same material in more detail, and delving into other alleged irregularities. One copy of the complaint went to Fein's office, and the other to Jepsen's. The complainants also gave a copy to The Courant.

CRT's public spokeswoman, Director of External Affairs Nancy Pappas, has defended the agency's long-distance employment arrangement with Puzzo. In The Courant's Feb. 12 column, she said: "Mr. Puzzo is actively engaged on behalf of the organization and is in contact with the management team on an as-needed basis."

She also said Puzzo's "compensation package is funded only by non-federal and non-state sources. Money comes from unrestricted private, local and corporate funding, as well as CRT's performance-based programs."

Before Puzzo stepped down as CEO in late 2005, federal auditors had found that CRT's top salaries, including Puzzo's more than $300,000 in pay and fringe benefits in 2002, were too much for an agency that operates Head Start preschool programs.

At the time, Betancourt said publicly that Puzzo's 40 years of experience with CRT and community contacts were assets too valuable to lose overnight, and that Puzzo would be paid $85,000 a year under a contract running through the end of 2013, when he plans to retire at the age of 70.

After that, Puzzo would receive the following retirement benefits, according to a recent report by CRT's independent auditor: "CRT will provide an annual supplemental retirement plan benefit of $100,000 in each of the years 2014 through 2016, with an $85,000 annual supplemental benefit payable thereafter for the remainder of his life." Puzzo's retirement benefits also would include medical and dental coverage "at no cost" to him.

Pappas would not say if the annual "supplemental retirement" payments of $100,000 and $85,000 would be in addition to any other pension or other payments already coming to him — such as payments from a 403(b) tax-advantaged retirement savings plan to which, she said, he has been making contributions.

Puzzo's mail of late has been forwarded from his longtime home in East Hampton to Stuart, Fla., where since 1993 he and his wife have owned a condo unit on a cove sheltered from the nearby Atlantic Ocean, records show.

This past Jan. 17, both Puzzos registered to vote there. On that same day Puzzo, 68, applied for a "Florida Homestead Exemption," local officials said. That exemption can provide a property owner with significant property tax savings if he declares that his Florida home is his or his dependent's "permanent residence."

Puzzo has declined requests for comment. The Courant mailed him a certified letter on Feb. 2 with questions about his employment arrangement. Addressed to his lakefront home in East Hampton, the letter was forwarded to his home in Stuart, Fla., where it was delivered Feb. 10, according to the U.S. Postal Service's "track and confirm" website for certified mail.

"I received your letter of [inquiry]. Please refer all questions directly to the Community Renewal Team," Puzzo said in a Feb. 10 email to The Courant. He did not answer a request for comment sent to his email address Friday.

Jon Lender is a reporter on The Courant's investigative desk, with a focus on government and politics. Contact him at, 860-241-6524, or c/o The Hartford Courant, 285 Broad St., Hartford, CT 06115 and find him on Twitter@jonlender.

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Unequal Enforcement: Black, Hispanic Drivers Faced Tougher Treatment From Police
[source, the Hartford Courant]

By MATTHEW KAUFFMAN, The Hartford Courant

Black and Hispanic drivers stopped by police across Connecticut are significantly more likely to leave the encounter with a ticket or a court date than are white motorists pulled over for the same offense, a first-ever analysis of state data shows.

From running stop signs to busted taillights, an analysis by the Courant of more than 100,000 traffic stops by dozens of local departments in 2011 found widespread disparity in how racial and ethnic minorities are treated.

Blacks and Hispanics fared especially poorly when stopped for equipment-related violations. Among nearly 4,000 stops related to the display or use of license plates, for example, 13 percent of white motorists left with a citation, compared with 27 percent of black drivers and 36 percent of Hispanics.

For more than 2,600 stops involving improper taillights, black motorists were twice as likely and Hispanics nearly four times as likely to be ticketed, compared to white drivers.

Across the country, studies have sought to determine whether police are more likely to target blacks and Hispanics when deciding which vehicles to pull over. But the Courant's analysis focused on disparities in the treatment of motorists after they are stopped.

The unequal outcome was most striking among Hispanic motorists, who were more likely than both whites and blacks to be ticketed in each of 13 categories of violations for which there were at least 1,000 stops. Black drivers fared worse than whites in 10 of the 13 categories.

"Well, I wish I could say I'm surprised, but I'm not," said state Rep. Kelvin Roldan, who said he has been the victim of racial profiling many times in his 23 years in Connecticut. "These are real violations of people's civil rights."

For nearly a decade, state law has required every police department to send detailed information on traffic stops to the African-American Affairs Commission for review. Most departments have ignored the law, but even for those that complied, the commission has reported each year since 2005 that it lacks the funds to do anything more than tally and file the records.

But an analysis by the Courant of the commission's most recently acquired reports, along with data submitted by police agencies to the Capitol Region Council of Governments, uncovered what Glenn A. Cassis, executive director of the African-American Affairs Commission has long suspected.

"This is not good," he said, shaking his head as he studied a series of graphs showing the disparity.

"This is beyond profiling. This goes to actually a level of discrimination, and who gets the wink and who doesn't get the wink," he said. "An officer can make a decision on whether or not to give a ticket, and it seems they've landed on a decision that if you're a minority, you're going to get a ticket."

The disparity was evident in stops as serious as speeding and running red lights, and as mundane as being overdue for an emissions inspection. Among the findings:

--Stops for traffic-signal violations led to citations for 26 percent of white motorists, compared to 30 percent of black drivers and 42 percent of Hispanics.

--For violations of state laws on tinted windows, white motorists were ticketed 12 percent of the time. For blacks and Hispanics, the figure was 17 percent and 24 percent, respectively.

--Among drivers stopped for an improper turn or stop, blacks were nearly 50 percent more likely to be ticketed than whites. Hispanics were twice as likely.

For violations with seemingly little room for discretion — such as driving with a suspended license — the percentage of motorists receiving a ticket or summons was high and fairly uniform. But the racial and ethnic disparity widened for moving violations and equipment problems, where officers had wider latitude in deciding the outcome.

"This tells me there's a different level of discretion being used by police officers when they pull people over," Cassis said. "This is alarming."

Anthony Salvatore, chief of police in Cromwell and legislative co-chairman of the Connecticut Chiefs of Police Association, said he had no clear explanation for the disparity, but said it was possible that in some cases, a minor motor-vehicle stop may have revealed a more-serious violation. The reports list only the initial reason for a stop, even if the motorist ultimately was cited for a different offense.

"They may have initially put down that it was for a stop sign, and it could have led to something else," he said.

Salvatore said officers have discretion in enforcement actions, but are expected to base their decisions on relevant factors, such as the seriousness of the incident.

Copyright © 2012, The Hartford Courant

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