Archive for 2007

Candelora, Fasano react to Federal Raid of New Haven Community Action Agency

Call for DSS review of CAA’s across Connecticut

 HARTFORD – State Representative Vincent Candelora (R-North Branford) and State Senator Len Fasano (R-North Haven) today reacted to news that federal authorities raided New Haven’s Community Action Agency on Whalley Avenue Thursday, removing large numbers of documents and files.  The Agency is also currently under investigation by the State of Connecticut for its billing practices.

In September, Representative Candelora and Senator Fasano called for an expanded forensic audit of CAA of New Haven by the Department of Social Services, saying information they had reviewed revealed a lack of financial controls and improper administration of federal Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) funds.  It was determined that illegal immigrants and other unqualified applicants were receiving home heating assistance funds and that the agency generated false Social Security numbers for unqualified applicants.  Today the legislators commended Governor Rell for her efforts to assure services will continue for New Haven CAA clients.  The legislators also called for a full review of each of the state’s thirteen Community Action Agencies. 

“All procedures at all Community Action Agencies across Connecticut should be reviewed, specifically regarding the agency’s administration of LIHEAP funds,” said Senator Fasano.  “We need to take every precaution to ensure that these funds are properly dispensed to qualified families who cannot afford fuel during the winter.”

“We have a situation now where the mismanagement and fraud that is prevalent at New Haven CAA have now placed in jeopardy the services of those who are in real need of them,” said Candelora.  “Senator Fasano and I warned about theses issues well ahead of the cold months, and now following a major snow storm and with another on the way, CAA was closed by federal authorities.”

Senator Fasano and Representative Candelora contacted the Governor’s office and the Department of Social Services today expressing their hope that services would not be interrupted for those who depend on the CAA for heat and other services. The legislators were assured by DSS that services would continue through the investigation, and they were doing everything they could to see they remain uninterrupted.

“Right now, we don’t know exactly why New Haven CAA is being investigated by federal authorities, but there have been a number of credible claims of wrongdoing on their part.  I want to be sure that any malfeasance on the part of the CAA doesn’t prevent those in need from getting help,” said Representative Candelora.

“Governor Rell is taking the right steps to ensure home heating assistance is not interrupted for those most in need,” said Senator Fasano.  “I will continue to work with Governor Rell and DSS officials to make sure qualified families who cannot afford fuel this winter, continue to receive assistance.”

 

Candelora, Fasano call for Expanded Audit of CAA in New Haven

Legislators Say Complaints of Improprieties are Too Great to Ignore

Inadequate Financial Controls, Administration of Energy Assistance Funds Called Into Question

 Hartford, CT – State Senate Minority Leader Pro Tempore Len Fasano (R-North Haven) and State Representative Vincent Candelora (R-North Branford) today called on the Department of Social Services to order an expanded forensic audit of the Community Action Agency (CAA) in New Haven regarding the agency’s administration of LIHEAP (Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program) funds.

 For the past several weeks, Senator Fasano and Representative Candelora have talked with current and past CAA employees and have reviewed volumes of documents related to the agencies handling of LIHEAP funds.  The legislators say the information they have gathered raises serious concerns about the lack of financial controls at CAA and the improper administration of energy assistance funds.  The legislators have received a number of alarming whistleblower complaints about the creation of fake Social Security numbers, questionable accounting practices, unqualified applicants receiving fuel assistance funds, and people who are receiving more than their statutory share of fuel assistance all at the expense of taxpayers and other qualified families in need. 

  In their brief review, Senator Fasano and Representative Candelora also determined there were at least two applicants receiving LIHEAP who are ineligible to receive the benefit.  They also determined that incomplete applications were being approved and that there is a lack of asset verification by management before approving applications.

 “CAA has a fiduciary, legal and moral obligation to properly dispense LIHEAP funds to qualified families who cannot afford fuel during the winter.  Any transgressions from federal and statutory law will undoubtedly result in eligible people not receiving the benefit of the program,” said Senator Fasano.  “These whistleblower complaints and the evidence we’ve uncovered cannot be ignored.  A thorough forensic audit is warranted to either prove the allegations unfounded or validate the claims.”

 “We are pleased that DSS is committed to ensuring that a system of administering assistance free of fraud is established,” said Representative Candelora. “While we all want to see everyone who needs heat assistance during the winter receive it, breaking the law by generating fraudulent Social Security numbers enabling illegal immigrants to obtain this assistance is not the way to address the issue.”

 The legislators said the forensic audit should cover the last three years and include a review of all agency transactions, including: application process from intake to funding; vendor lists; contract payments; signatory on checks; oil deliveries; invoicing and related payments.

 Additionally, the legislators have called for:

·        DSS to assign a veteran employee to review existing applications and ensure they are processed and funded according to state statute and federal law.

·        DSS to demand CAA Board of Directors immediately require the two main administrators of the LIHEAP program be placed on an administrative leave of absence until further notice.  There is evidence the two top administrators attempted to stifle employees when this matter became public.  The administrators’ presence therefore would impair any effort to have an open and fair audit.

·        Creation of a CAA Board of Directors in accordance with Connecticut General Statute Section 17b-886.

Press Conference RE: Concerns Over CAA Administration of LIHEAP Funds

State Senator Leonard Fasano (R-North Haven), State Representative Vincent Candelora (R-North Branford) and other legislative leaders will hold a press conference tomorrow about a series of concerns related to financial controls and the administration of LIHEAP funds at community action agencies.  The legislators will call for significant changes to CAA procedures.

 WHEN:  Wednesday, September 26th, 2007 – 11:30 AM

 WHERE:  2nd Floor Atrium (Break-out area), Legislative Office Building

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Candelora Announces Funding for North Branford

HARTFORD- State Representative Vincent Candelora (R-North Branford) today announced grants from the Office of Policy and Management would be made available for projects in North Branford. 

 

The North Branford public library system will receive $3,000 for programming supplies, circulation supplies, and furniture in the children’s section for both the Edward Smith Library in Northford, and the Atwater Library in North Branford.

 

The town will also receive $7,000 to replace the scoreboard at the high school athletic field with digital equipment and remote access to benefit the football, soccer, lacrosse and field hockey programs.  These funds will be augmented by $4,000 that the North Branford Booster Club has donated to the project.

 

“I am very pleased that these items are receiving funding and I thank Governor Rell and the Office of Policy and Management for making important projects in North Branford a priority in Hartford,” said Candelora.  “We have a terrific library system in town staffed by dedicated and talented people. They know how to stretch money to make it count for the families of our town, and this will help them accomplish their goals.”

 

“The Booster Club did a remarkable job in raising money for a new athletic field scoreboard with technological upgrades,” said Candelora.  “These additional funds will allow the town to get that scoreboard, and enhance the excellent sports programs we have in our town.”

Candelora Reacts to AG’s Opinion on New Haven Municipal ID Cards

HARTFORD – State Representative Vincent Candelora (R-North Branford) today reacted to the opinion issued by Attorney General Richard Blumenthal that New Haven residents can not use the new Elm City Resident identification cards for the purposes of voter registration. The creation of the cards ignited controversy earlier this year as illegal immigrants are allowed to obtain Elm City cards.

“I am pleased that the Attorney General has upheld the statement by Secretary of State Bysiewicz that these cards can not be used for voter registration purposes,” said Candelora.  “We all know that they shouldn’t be.  The problem with these cards is that, as the Attorney General acknowledges in his opinion, Connecticut does not require proof of citizenship at any point during the voter registration process, and these cards would satisfy the identification requirement of someone who shows up to vote at the polls.

“I am not suggesting that we should further complicate the process of registering to vote by requiring proof of citizenship, but I do believe the state should mandate that cards issued by a municipality such as those in New Haven state clearly on the front that they are not to be used for voter registration purposes,” he added.

 Candelora introduced a measure on the floor of the State House of Representatives prohibiting the issuance of such municipal cards during the last session.  The measure was introduced as an amendment to House Bill 7434.  Under the provisions of the measure, no municipality would be allowed to adopt an ordinance issuing identification cards to an undocumented illegal immigrant for any purpose.  

His efforts were blocked by the legislative Democrat majority.

Candelora indicated that he intends to introduce legislation this coming session that would require the cards be labeled to say they can not be used for voter registration.

“Since the Attorney General and the Secretary of State both agree that these cards can not and should not be used in the voter registration process, I hope I’ll have their support for this legislation,” said Candelora.

Candelora: House Passes Biennial Budget

House Republican ‘No Tax Increase’ Initiative Spares Taxpayers

HARTFORD – Representative Vincent Candelora (R-North Branford) voted with House Republicans in the early morning hours last Saturday to approve a $36 billion biennial state budget.  

 Rep. Candelora noted that when the legislative session began, it appeared that a tax increase was imminent.  Since the House Republican minority introduced a ‘No Tax Increase’ budget, and stuck top their guns through deliberations on the point, he said the GOP legislators changed the debate at the Capitol.  The final budget contained no tax increases with the exception of the cigarette tax, which jumped from $1.51 per pack to $2.00 per pack.

“While this may be a strategic and political victory for Republicans, it is more importantly a victory for the taxpayers of Connecticut,” said Candelora.

Proposals that the Democratic majority had pushed, but were unable to keep in the final budget included an increase in the state income tax, an Earned Income Tax Credit for those who make too little to pay a state income tax, an increase in the property tax credit from $500 to $1000, and elimination of the exemption of the sales tax for clothing under $50.

“Despite a roughly $900 million budget surplus, Democrats wanted to raise taxes by $1.6 billion,” said Candelora.  “Thankfully, we were able to prevent that from happening, while the towns in the 86th District will receive a $5.7 million increase in state aid over the next two years.”

Candelora also observed that the budget which passed the House contained: 

–An additional $441 million over two years for local school aid, the largest increase in state history. There are also new measures requiring school districts to account for the funding and measure their students’ achievement.

– $94 million in the first year and $120.7 million in the second to boost reimbursement rates to doctors, hospitals, clinics, and dentists who serve needy patients on Medicaid. Physicians have not seen a rate increase in 18 years.

– Increases in funding for state parks, including $1.7 million to hire additional park personnel.

 

– More money for programs that help the elderly, such as personal care assistants and Dial-a-Ride.

– Full funding for day programs provided to young adults with developmental disabilities who recently graduated from high school.

– A 3 percent increase for nursing homes and private, nonprofit agencies that provide everything from group homes for the mentally retarded to programs for the homeless.

 The budget was passed by the State Senate this afternoon, and will now head to the Governor for her signature.

$500,000 in Improvements at Edward Smith Library Announced

 Governor M. Jodi Rell today announced that the Edward Smith Library in the Northford section of North Branford is expected to receive $500,000 in funding for expansion and renovation when the state Bond Commission meets June 29.

The Edward Smith Library is one of two libraries in the Town of North Branford; the other, the Atwater Memorial Library, is in North Branford center. Both are in need of major renovation. After thorough study, the Town Council and Library Board have decided to expand and renovate them one at a time so that one is always open for patrons.

 The state funding will allow the Edward Smith Library to expand to house its current collection and allow space for future growth and services. The addition will increase its size from 5,200 square feet to more than 10,600 square feet. The project will also include an elevator, meeting room, children’s program area, study and reading rooms, new restrooms, staff offices, increased parking, space for young adult readers and new furnishings.

 “It is wonderful to see communities update and expand their libraries, ensuring they remain useful and lively places,” Governor Rell said. “Not only will this funding help the Edward Smith Library improve its living space and facilities, it will also improve its energy efficiency by overhauling the heating and air conditioning system. Libraries are important public spaces – it is important to keep them in good shape.”

 “I am extremely pleased that Governor Rell has recognized the need for this project by awarding the library this significant grant,” said state Rep. Vincent Candelora (R-North Branford). “The expansion will play a vital role in enhancing library services and creating much needed programming and meeting space in Northford.”

 North Branford is one of eight towns slated to receive a total of more than $2.6 million in funding for improvements under the Library Construction grant program through the Bond Commission.

 

Candelora Introduces Measure Prohibiting Proposed New Haven ID Cards

HARTFORD – In response to passage this week of a measure by the New Haven Board of Aldermen creating a program of municipal identification cards with which the city’s estimated 15,000 illegal immigrants would be able to use to secure social services and open bank accounts, Representative Vincent Candelora (R-North Branford) today introduced a measure on the floor of the State House of Representatives prohibiting the issuance of such a municipal card.  The measure was introduced as an amendment to House Bill 7434.

Under the provisions of the measure, no municipality would be allowed to adopt an ordinance issuing identification cards to undocumented illegal immigrant for any purpose.  

“The City of New Haven has exceeded its authority and may have illegally passed a measure that countermands federal law,” said Candelora.  “While that isn’t for us to resolve, it is perfectly reasonable for the state to prohibit the issuance of these cards, to be certain that their use does not lead to things like identity theft or voter fraud.  This proposal helps ensure that.”

By bringing out the amendment, Democratic leaders of the House passed the bill temporarily in an attempt to avoid a vote on the measure.  Republicans objected, and Democrats averted debate and a vote on the measure on a party-line vote of 107-44.

Candelora noted that he hoped state and federal authorities would examine the New Haven ID card proposal, to be certain it complied with state and federal law, and did not facilitate the breaking of the law.

“Immigration laws lie with the federal government.  The City of New Haven has made this a state issue.  The City cannot be permitted to develop a foreign policy or immigration policy. The City receives millions of dollars from the State and we have an obligation to account for how and on whom the money is spent.” He added.  “It’s unfortunate that the House Democrats have abdicated their responsibility by refusing to take up the matter on behalf of the citizens of the State of Connecticut.”

The 2007 session of the General Assembly concludes tonight at midnight.

Candelora: Democrats Kill Republican Gas Tax Cut

HARTFORD – House Democrats tonight finally killed the Gas Tax Holiday Republicans crafted to immediately save motorists 25 cents per gallon from Memorial Day to Labor Day, despite widespread public outrage at the record high fuel prices.

 

The Republican amendment, supported by Representative Vincent Candelora (R-86) would have saved motorists more than $125 million in fuel costs from now until Labor Day and the lost revenue would have been replaced with a portion of the $846 million surplus.

 

“Unfortunately, in a transparently partisan act, legislative Democrats only wanted to pay lip service to supporting a Gas Tax Holiday to pass real savings on to Connecticut motorists during this time of outrageously high prices,” said Candelora.  “They vote for it once on their tax package which they knew would be vetoed by the Governor.  This was the only real chance they had to cut gas prices at the pump, and they punted.”

 

Every Republican in the House and Senate voted to cut the gas tax since the House Republicans first proposed it on May 14. Since then, Democrats used procedural slight of hands to try and fool the public into thinking that they supported the gas tax cut.

 

Candelora noted that 173 of the 187 lawmakers in the House and Senate have in recent weeks voted to cut the state gas tax, either in amendments or on the Democratic tax legislation that was supported by 90 of the 107 House Democrats. Those votes were for bills that were crafted to give Democrats political cover but stood no chance of ever becoming law.

 

“The Democrats are apparently happy to be able to go back to their districts being able to say they voted for this measure once,” said Candelora.  “But the fact is, they had the power to deliver it, and they failed, because they never actually intended to give this relief.”

          

This session of the Connecticut General Assembly adjourns at midnight June 6th, 2007.

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