Friday, July 21, 2006

Can We Declare a War on Stupidity Please

Godfrey Daniels! What is the legislature thinking about? Today's Courant informs us that thanks to the ethical lapses of the Rowland/Rell administration, new ethical guidelines were developed to prevent the ethically challenged politicians from accepting gifts like jacuzzis for their cottages.

Thanks to the genius of our CT lawmakers this law seems to include the elimination of corporate technology gifts to schools. Where do these Homers come from? Honestly. Does anyone in the State House use their heads?

People, get out and vote on August 8.

Ethics Rules May Hurt Schools
State Agency Asked To Clarify Law Restricting Gifts
July 21, 2006
By ROBERT A. FRAHM, Courant Staff Writer
According to an opinion issued by the Office of State Ethics, the law bans all gifts to state agencies from donors or companies who pay for registered lobbyists or who seek to do business with the agencies. That includes many major corporations in the state.

The law does not apply to local school districts, but it does affect the technical high school system, for example, because of its status as a state institution.

The issue prompted a letter to the ethics office this week from State Board of Education Chairman Allan Taylor, who sought clarification on the new law.

Taylor cited the technical high school system as an example, saying it relies on gifts ranging from scholarships sponsored by Northeast Utilities to a recent $141,000 donation of heating and air-conditioning equipment from a group of companies including Carrier Corp.

Taylor also mentioned the $25,000 from financial services company ING that pays for the state's annual teacher of the year recognition ceremony and helps send the winning teacher to a national reception in Washington, D.C., and conferences in Texas and Alabama.

Although such gifts were acceptable in the past, state-operated schools and prospective donors can expect that future donations will be subject to a case-by-case review, said Meredith Trimble, director of education for the Office of State Ethics.

"Their concern is legitimate," she said.

"It's just pretty clear the way the statute is written. If they are a regulated donor and what they provide is a gift to the state - from a fax machine to cash to free training - it is no longer permissible."

The new rules could hinder efforts to forge ties between schools and businesses, some officials say.

"I don't think this was the intent" of the law, said Rachel Rubin, an expert on ethics who reviews compliance issues for the University of Connecticut. "We have a mandate to raise private money. It kind of puts us in a Catch-22."

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