Yankee Institute Blog

Federal investigation reveals millions in food stamp fraud

Waterbury grocer Raul Marcos Monarca-Gonazalez pled guilty in federal court on Tuesday to unlawful use of food stamps and conspiracy to commit food stamp fraud. Investigators estimate the amount of fraud to be in the millions.

According to the press release from the U.S. Department of Justice, Monarca’s store, WB Trade Fair Grocery, only stocked enough eligible food items for a maximum of $240,000 in food stamp purchases per year.

Are hostile work environment claims contributing to Connecticut’s hostile business environment?

An employee can voluntarily separate from their employer and still receive unemployment benefits if the cause of separation was due to, among other things, a “hostile work environment.” So what constitutes a hostile work environment and what does the Connecticut Department of Labor use to determine whether or not such an environment exists?

Legally, a hostile work environment must be “permeated with discriminatory intimidation, ridicule, and insult that is sufficiently severe or pervasive to alter the conditions of the victim’s employment and create an abusive working environment,” according to precedent set by the decision Brittel v. Department of Correction.

Union schedules “planned arrest” at Fight for 15 Strike

An email sent from the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees asked for 25 people willing to be arrested as part of a “fight for $15” strike at McDonalds on Washington Avenue in Hartford on Tuesday, November 29.

The email, sent by retired state employee Win Heimer, states “This is a planned arrest – with a promise to appear in court for community service. Police will have your Social Security number and do a background check in advance in coordination with Fight for 15 strike planners.”

Connecticut public-sector labor union laws get a “D”

Connecticut earned a “D” grade for its public-sector labor laws from the Commonwealth Foundation, a free-market think tank based in Pennsylvania.

Connecticut was one of 22 states in the country that earned a grade lower than a C. The study cited Connecticut’s binding arbitration laws, lack of paycheck protection and closed-door union contract negotiations as contributing to its poor grade.

Long waits for licenses at the Department of Public Health

When Liz Wilson submitted her final test results to become a marriage and family therapist in early September, she thought she would be able to receive her license from the Department of Public Health within a couple weeks and move forward opening her own private practice.

Six weeks later on October 21 she finally received notification that she was now officially licensed by the state but there was one last hold up – the DPH only prints licenses once a month.

State employees settlement costs Connecticut $18 million this year

A 2003 lawsuit by the State Employee Bargaining Agent Coalition against Gov. John Rowland has increased the Connecticut budget deficit by $18 million according to figures released by the Office of Fiscal Analysis.

The OFA estimated a $20.8 million shortfall at the Office of the State Comptroller due to adjudicated claims. “Approximately $18 million of the projected deficiency is for estimated payments for the SEBAC v. Rowland Settlement.”

Regional emergency management coordinators take home two pensions and state vehicles

Regional coordinators for the Division of Emergency Management and Homeland Security are receiving municipal pensions while employed by the state of Connecticut and driving state vehicles, including Emergency Management Director William J. Hackett.

Hackett retired as chief of the Branford Fire Department and president of the union local of the International Association of Firefighters before being appointed to the position in 2006. Hackett receives a disability pension in the amount of $45,175.80 per year.

What is Danbury doing right?

The city of Danbury has been experiencing a renaissance in the past few years, which has the city moving in the opposite direction as the rest of the state. Although Connecticut has been experiencing a net loss of population, Danbury has increased its population by 8 percent since 2000; while Connecticut’s credit rating has decreased, Danbury recently earned a AAA rating; Connecticut’s state employee pension system is among the most underfunded in the nation, while Danbury’s is nearly fully funded into the foreseeable future.

Cibes doesn’t want to hear Connecticut is in a “death spiral”

As Connecticut’s Spending Cap Commission closes in on it’s December 1st deadline to deliver recommendations to the state legislature, committee co-chair, William Cibes, asked that the term “death-spiral” cease to be used when discussing the state’s fiscal health.

Cibes also said that he no longer wanted to hear that state spending was out of control.

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