June 7, 2024

In This Issue:

From Paddi's Desk

CT Agency Corner

Municipal Roundup

Inside Scoop

This Day in CT History

This Week's News:

Staten Island Borough President issues 'pizza challenge' to New Haven following controversial DELAURO Congressional proclamation...

LAMONT signs PFAS ban, with a suggested improvement...

What do golf and politics have in common?

Many people ask what lobbyists do once the legislature adjourns. They watch trends, follow up on unresolved issues, reconnect with clients, gather Intel on upcoming campaigns, and continue strategizing for results.

With the Travelers Championship Golf Tournament approaching (June 17-23 ) at the TPC Golf Course in Cromwell, CT, I started to think about similarities between golf professionals and political candidates. Both assess risks and opportunities, whether on the golf course or in the political arena. At first glance, golf and campaigning seem worlds apart, but both require strategy, precision, and endurance.

Strategic Planning

Golf and campaigning demand detailed strategy. Golfers navigate obstacles on the course, and candidates plan every move, from targeting voters to managing calendars and ads. Jack Nicklaus, a golf legend, said, "Success depends almost entirely on how effectively you learn to manage the game's two ultimate adversaries: the course and yourself." This applies to campaigns as candidates manage public perception and stay focused under pressure. For instance, Republican Glenn Youngkin's focus on local education issues was crucial in his 2023 gubernatorial victory in a pretty much democratic Virginia.

Precision and Adaptability

Golfers must account for variables like wind and slope, just as candidates use data analytics to tailor messages to key demographics. The National Golf Foundation reports that the average golfer spends 15 hours per month practicing -not talking about the PROs soon to appear in Cromwell! Similarly, campaigns invest heavily in targeted advertising and voter outreach, as seen in the NY State 14th district congressional election where Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez used micro-targeting techniques on social media to engage young voters in the 2024 Democratic primary.

Endurance and Persistence

Both golf and campaigning require endurance. A standard round of golf takes up to four hours (okay for most of us 5 -6 hours), while campaigning can last over a year. Arnold Palmer said, "Golf is deceptively simple and endlessly complicated," which also describes campaigning. President Biden's 2020 campaign persisted through setbacks and virtual events to win a very challenging controversial election.

Community and Networking

Building relationships is crucial in both golf and campaigning. Golf often serves as a networking tool, and successful campaigns depend on strong support networks to create strong grassroots and coalitions of diversity of support. In the recent Chicago mayoral race, former educator and Cook County Council board member Democratic candidate, Brandon Johnson focuses on a strong grassroots approach and community engagement strategy to secure a surprising victory.

See there is a connections between golf and campaigning - they do share a lot of similarities of strategy, precision, endurance, and networking. The perfect balance of planning, adaptability, persistence, and the ability to build and maintain relationships is key to both “games”. The strategic similarities between the green and the campaign trail where the intricate blend of art and science is essential for the “win.”

My question for you is - why can we name professional athletes who try their luck with political campaigning (remember the golfers, basketball players, football players, and even WWE wrestlers) but can you name any well know semi or professional golfer who caught the bug and dipped their toes into a campaign? Doesn’t it seem like a perfect training ground for the next set of potential candidates for public office?

Maybe we’ll see you on the golf course soon. 

CT Agency Corner - CSU's Improvement by the Numbers

The Office of Legislative Research recently reported that the 17 state colleges and universities (which do not include UConn) have shown strong signs of growth.

Despite being down in enrollment -14% overall when compared to 2018 numbers, state colleges and universities shared data that indicate the bleeding has significantly slowed down and in one instance added students. Here are the overall numbers:

Western CT State University 

Western shows by far the most problematic rates of enrollment with a 6.5% decrease in enrollment when compared to just last year but not as troubling as a 26.7% decline compared to 2018. Western has been the subject of conversations long term on its future which could become more complicated given the anticipated budget shortfall to come in 2025-2026.

Eastern Connecticut State University 

Eastern has been considered a stronghold for the CSU system showing just a 2.5% dip in enrollment in a year. This also does not factor in the increased investment being made in their graduate programs which could also help attract significantly more students.

Southern Connecticut State University 

Southern shows strong signs of slowing the declines it feared since 2018 before the pandemic by having a less than 1% decrease in enrollment compared to last year and much better than the 12.2% decrease from 2018. These numbers show periods of stabilization that could be visible sooner than originally anticipated. 

Central Connecticut State University 

Considered the most popular of the four major universities (which could partially be attributed to its division one athletics program), Central actually experienced student enrollment growth in the last year. Data shows a 2.5% growth in enrollment and an increased likelihood for continued growth next year given its rapid turnaround from a 17.8% decrease in enrollment since 2018. 

The State Bond Commission in Connecticut is set to approve over $850 million for various projects across the state. This includes $519.7 million in bond authorizations and $337 million in special tax obligation bonds. Significant allocations include $10 million for converting commercial space into dorms for UConn students, $5 million for parking garage repairs in downtown Hartford, and $50 million for the Build for CT program, which aims to create affordable housing. Other projects include infrastructure improvements, business loans, and urban development initiatives.

New Britain is considering a new policy to address panhandling and homelessness. The city's mayor, Erin Stewart, has proposed a plan that includes ordinances against aggressive panhandling, especially near ATMs, parking lots, and restaurant entrances. This move is in response to concerns from residents and businesses about safety and quality of life.

However, the policy has sparked a debate about the treatment of homeless individuals. Critics argue that these measures criminalize poverty and fail to address the root causes of homelessness. They emphasize the need for more supportive services, such as housing and mental health care, to effectively tackle the issue. The city council is expected to vote on the proposal soon, balancing community concerns with humane treatment of vulnerable populations.


Federal Funding Drain

This past short session was unique in several ways. Many priorities quickly came and went without legislative support, legislative committees saw agendas fall by the wayside and we even had several committee shakeups. Appropriators said no to budget adjustments and leaders scraped the bottom of the ARPA barrel for last-minute injections. These federal funds used to shore up some of those organizations across Connecticut were a quick hit of Advil for a headache that is going to return. As the state government continues to decide just how this ARPA money is going to get out the door, stakeholders and advocates have to get prepped and ready for…the next legislative session. The long session after a significant state election is usually packed with priorities and initiatives. The longer sessions are a grind for legislators – defined by hundreds of bills and thousands of requests. The end of 2024 will bring new legislative faces and outstanding priorities that need to be addressed. But 2025 will be defined by budget challenges. Here we go again.

$693 million in one-time dollars is currently supporting the next budget. That one-time piece is the most important part because as we approach another budget year, what will Connecticut’s legislature do when the well runs dry? You may think that the surpluses we hear so much about will come in and save us, but with wage increases and costs running high, surpluses evaporate quickly. With billions in unfunded obligations and state budget controls defining how much we save, legislators have decisions to make and not a lot of money to spend. While we will continue to follow the rhetoric around budget discussions as individual legislators run their respective races, we are on the lookout for just what leaders in the legislature will focus on as the fall approaches and administrative budgets begin to take shape. If you are a stakeholder or an advocate many may be wondering what you can do (in June) to prepare for expiring support and budget issues for next year. Prepare and get ready to engage with legislators, many of whom will be new after the November elections.

June 7th: A Landmark Supreme Court Case Guarantees Your Right to Privacy- and Birth Control

The introduction of the birth control pill in 1960 launched a sexual revolution that posed a fundamental challenge to long-standing federal and state “morality laws.” These Victorian era laws had been enacted to stop the sale or distribution of materials intended for “immoral uses,” such as having sex merely for enjoyment, or limiting family size by “unnatural” means. No state had tougher laws in this regard than Connecticut.

Today in 1965, however, the U.S. Supreme Court overturned the Connecticut law that had criminalized birth control in the Land of Steady Habits for 92 years. In the process, it established Americans’ constitutional rights to privacy and family planning.

Back in 1873, during the apex of the Victorian era in the United States, Congress passed the Comstock Law, which outlawed “the circulation of obscene literature and articles of immoral use” through the U.S. mail. The “obscene” and “immoral” material in question was anything related to the discussion and use of contraceptives and abortifacients; even so, several states passed supplementary “morality laws” that expanded the definition of “obscene material.” Connecticut ‘s own “Act Concerning Offenses against Decency, Morality, and Humanity,” which passed in 1879, was one of the most restrictive acts in the nation, outlawing both the discussion and use of contraceptives.

Over the next 70 years, American attitudes on morality and sexuality changed drastically — but most of the restrictive state laws inspired by the 1873 Comstock Law remained on the books. Even after the FDA approved the first oral contraceptive pill in 1960, the sale and use of “the pill” remained illegal in Connecticut. Soon afterwards, Estelle Griswold, president of the state’s Planned Parenthood chapter and a longtime social activist, defiantly opened a birth control clinic in downtown New Haven with Dr. C. Lee Buxton, an obstetrician and Professor at Yale Medical School, where they provided counseling and supplied contraceptives to couples. To help legitimize their business, they accepted only married couples with stellar character references as their clients.

Nine days later, they were both arrested and fined $100 under Connecticut’s 1879 law prohibiting the discussion, sale, and use of contraceptives. Their arrest set off a chain of lawsuits and appeals that eventually arrived on the doorstep of the Supreme Court in 1965 as Griswold v. Connecticut. The justices struck down the antiquated Connecticut law by a 7-2 majority, arguing that marriage was a form of association even “older than the Bill of Rights” that existed in a “zone of privacy” entitled to constitutional protection against government intrusion.

Today, Griswold v. Connecticut is hailed as a landmark case — the first in American history to establish a Constitutional right to privacy which has been cited in countless court cases ever since. Seven years after Griswold, the Court expanded the “right to privacy” to individual Americans, regardless of their marital status. A giant step for womankind — and the protection of individual liberties — became the law of the land on this day in Connecticut history.

To view the full story on the CT Historian's website, click here.

Sullivan & LeShane, Inc.
www.ctlobby.com | (860) 560-0000