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The Community Lawyer was invited by the editor and publisher of the weekly Winsted Journal to submit a regular opinion/editorial column. The table of contents displays the wide range of topics covered by the Community Lawyer since starting the column in 2008.

Freedom requires a declaration

Nations are created by civil strife, military rebellion, acts of heroism, acts of treachery. The origin of the United States included them all. This was unique, not only in its impact on the course of world history and the growth of democracy, but also because it all started in one document: the Declaration of Independence. The Declaration was drafted by Thomas Jefferson between June 11 and June 28, 1776. J ...

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What Zoning Tells Us About Our Town

By Charlene LaVoie Land use and zoning regulations govern the use and development of real estate and are used by municipalities to guide the development of property.  New York City adopted the first zoning ordinance in 1916. In 1924, the Connecticut legislature granted towns the right to zone.  These rights are derived from English feudal law that gave the sovereign control over all land.  In the United Sta ...

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Hands off NCCC

By Charlene LaVoie In 2011, Governor Dannel Malloy announced a sweeping plan to overhaul higher education to provide more resources for classroom teaching to help increase the number of students. The plan was supposed to empower the four state universities and 12 community colleges without closing or combining them and save taxpayers tens of millions of dollars over time. A central state Board of Regents wa ...

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A Year (or so) in Review- A Cautionary Tale

In September 2012, convicted felon Henry Centrella’s scheme was uncovered. In November 2012, he was put on leave. In January 2013, he was fired. In August 2013, he was arrested. In April 2014, after pleading guilty, he was sentenced to 20 years in jail. By September 2013, changed procedures and multiple safeguards were in place in Town Hall. All this was accomplished under the Democratic majority on the Boa ...

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Mayor Sterling and the infrastructure deceit

Mayor Sterling and the infrastructure deceit Fri, 07/18/2014 - 10:28am Civic Beat Opinion/Viewpoint By Charlene LaVoie More trickery from appointed Mayor Marsha Sterling that piggybacks on citizen concerns about repairing the town. In 2013, the budget focused on infrastructure and passed because the director of Public Works, a professional engineer, did something that had never been done. He made a public p ...

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Half-truths do not promote transparency

Fri, 06/13/2014 - By Charlene LaVoie Mayor Marsha Sterling has assured us that she is trying to be “clear and transparent.” But actions speak louder than words. Her actions at the Board of Selectmen meeting on Monday, June 2, reveal her willingness to trick the public and tell only those parts of the story that support her intentions. In her best micromanaging style, Sterling presented the finance report an ...

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Money moved around in mayor’s budget

Money moved around in mayor’s budget Fri, 05/30/2014 By Charlene LaVoie The annual budget is the most significant policy statement from the Board of Selectmen. How money is allocated tells voters what selectmen deem important. That’s policy making and transparency in government. The newly appointed mayor, Marsha Sterling, proposed a budget that contains a selectmen’s slush fund of $500,000 that she moved fr ...

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Postal Crisis Solution?

Postal crisis solution? Fri, 02/28/2014 By Charlene LaVoie The United State Postal Service Office of Inspector General released a report in January on “Providing Non-Bank Financial Services for the Underserved.” About 68 million Americans have no checking or savings account. They use costly services like payday loans and check cashing exchanges that, in 2012 alone, cost them about $89 billion in interest an ...

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