Friday, January 25, 2008

Annual ethics conference at the Capitol

Today was the day of the biennial ethics conference at the State Capitol, which a number of other legislators and I attended.

The main speaker was Phillip Boyle, PhD, of Leading and Governing Associates, Inc. His program was very interesting. The most compelling part of his presentation was the idea that the basis of people's ethical values can be broken-down into three bases:
  • Ends and Consequences
  • Rules and Means
  • Care and Compassion
Since this was at a Capitol conference, he presented these three motives as the basis of different people's political beliefs. Here is how he described what each of these means:
  • "Ends and Consequences" says that:
    • The most important thing is that policies have good outcomes.
    • What is the greatest good for the greatest number of people.
    • "Ends justify the means".
  • "Rules and Means" says that:
    • You cannot know with certainly what outcome will come from policies, so the most important thing is for create good rules and enforce them.
    • Follow the "rule of law" - no matter what.
  • "Care and Compassion" says that:
    • The most important thing is actions are done for compassionate reasons.
    • You cannot know with certainly what outcome will come from policies, so the most important thing is that the intentions are good.
Dr. Boyle points out that this breakdown does not mean that each person uses just one of these. Most people, he says, are motivated by all three. The question, he says, is which one is most important and least important of the three for you.

I found this analysis, and Dr. Boyle's discussion of them, to be interesting because it does help to have an understanding of the basis of different people's opinions and value systems.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Martin Luther King Day events in New Britain

Today is Martin Luther King Day, and there were two major events in New Britain to celebrate the occasion.

The first was the City of New Britain MLK breakfast at Angelico's Restaurant, followed by the wreath-laying at the Martin Luther King monument on MLK Boulevard.

The keynote speaker was Rev. Thomas Mills of New Britain's McCullough Temple. It was a stirring speech, in which Rev. Mills spoke about the significance of the great events of Dr. King's work and what still has yet to be achieved. His speech was a call to action since, while the civil rights movement has accomplished much, there is a need to build momentum in the movement for changes still needed.

Rev. Mills pointed out Dr. King's courageous stand against the Vietnam War and his work to expand the civil rights movement to challenge the unjustly inequitable economic systems that harm Americans of all racial and ethnic backgrounds.

I have asked Rev. Mills for a copy of his speech. I will post it here when he does. I wish someone had recorded it. It was truly a great speech.

The second event was the Mary McLeod Bethune Club's Martin Luther King Day commemoration at Spottswood AME Zion Church. The main speaker was Kevin Williams, who is the advisor to the New Britain High School African American Club.

The event raises funding for the Bethune Club scholarship. This year's scholarship recipient is Ms. Aja Edwards.

I know that there are statewide Martin Luther King commemorations. But I feel fortunate that New Britain is a place where the memory of Dr. King's work and the importance of the civil rights movement is kept alive.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Summer Youth Employment at the Capitol.

Today I was pleased to attend an event at the State Capitol honoring the kids who participated in this year's Summer Youth Employment program.

This is a program that I have been happy to support and of which I think our state should be proud.

The Summer Youth Employment program was a very successful federally funded program, providing, as the name implies, jobs for youth in the summertime. Unfortunately budget cuts completely eliminated this important program.

And the loss the program was felt severely, especially in cities like New Britain. So the state decided to recreate it - as a state program.

The current Summer Youth Employment program is a jobs program for youth with a strong educational emphasis. It provides kids with opportunity, work experience, a sense of responsibility and, of course, a paycheck.

Over the past few years I have been proud to support increases in the budget for this program. But there are still kids who want to participate who are turned away. So there are still many more kids who can be given greater opportunities if we can increase the funding for the Summer Youth Employment program.

Congressman Chris Murphy speaks at the New Britain Chamber

New Britain's Congressman, Chris Murphy, was the speaker at today's Chamber of Commerce breakfast forum.

Senator Don DeFronzo, Rep. John Geragosian, Alderman Phil Sherwood, Alderman Adam Platosz and I joined New Britain's business community to hear Cong. Murphy discussion issues he is working on in Washington. The event was very well attended.

He emphasized three areas. First, the ongoing mortgage crisis, something that he said requires thoughtful solutions. He warned that the crisis is going to get worse before it starts to get better.

Then he discussed the new energy legislation that was approved by Congress. It increases automobile fuel efficiency standards for the first time in thirty years. He also discussed the new standards for renewable energy and investments he hopes will drive a new generation of high-tech clean energy industry in Connecticut.

Finally, he talked about his efforts as a new member of Congress to press for ethics legislation. He emphasized the importance of doing at the federal level what we have already done at the state level in Connecticut - a Citizen Election system with public financing of election campaigns to replace special interest dominated privately-funded candidacies.

Murphy also emphasized that he wants to be open to hearing from people in the district, saying that he wants his role to be to open the decision-making in Washington to the people and away from the top-down decision making that has dominated the US Government.

I think he impressed a lot of people.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Humanities Council funding for the New Britain Museum of American Art

I received a letter recently Bruce Fraser, Executive Director of the Connecticut Humanities Council letting me know about cultural funding for New Britain
Heritage Granting Awards
Third Quarter, 2007
Representative O'Brien District 24

$9,850 to New Britain Museum of American Art (New Britain)
for The World of Charles Ethan Porter: 19th Century African American Artist The New Britain Museum of American Art received a $9,850 grant for educational and outreach programming related to its upcoming exhibit, "The World of Charles Ethan Porter. " Programming includes lectures, concerts, films, school vacation programs, art and writing workshops for high school students, tours, and others.
These funds, Mr. Fraser says,
were made through our Cultural Heritage Development Fund, a program for Connecticut museums and heritage organizations made possible by a $2.5 million annual appropriation from the State of Connecticut. This year, thanks to your support, we will award $1.1 million in heritage grants through the appropriation.
He added that...
Projects funded through these grants help Connecticut's cultural institutions explore our state's rich past through exhibits, lectures, walking tours and other public programs. Over time, they build organizational capacity and have been proven remarkably successful in attracting tourists to the state, whose spending in local restaurants, hotels and shops helps stimulate our economy.
I think you will be pleased to know that the grants on the attached list bring these benefits to the people in your district.

Thank you so much for recognizing the importance of heritage tourism to Connecticut's economy through your support for the Connecticut Humanities Council and the cultural experiences it provides for thousands of Connecticut residents and visitors each year.
I certainly thank Mr. Fraser and the Connecticut Humanities Council for recognizing this program.

You can click here for information on public programs at the New Britain Museum of American Art, which right now includes events related to the Charles Ethan Porter exhibit.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Eagle Scout ceremony in Newington

Tonight I attended a Court of Honor held by Boy Scout Troop 347 to elevate Gregory Pietrycha to Eagle Scout. I joined Rep. Sandy Nafis and Sen. Paul Doyle in presenting a legislative citation giving Greg state recognition for his achievement.

It takes a lot of work to become an Eagle Scout, so I congratulate Greg for his accomplishment. I know his parents are very proud of him.

Best wishes to the Pietrycha family and to Troop 347.