Hartford Courant from Hartford, Connecticut on November 18, 2010 · Page B02
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Hartford Courant from Hartford, Connecticut · Page B02

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Hartford, Connecticut
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Thursday, November 18, 2010
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Page B02
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B2 THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 18, 2010 THE HARTFORD COURANT NOW VOTE No Plans To Conduct Ballot Audit By JOSH KOVNER jkovnercourant.com It turns out that Bridgeport won't be doing the voluntary review requested by the secretary of the state of the ballots cast at the dozen polling places that ran out of them on Election Day. After Deputy Secretary of the State Leslie D. Mara spoke with Democratic Registrar Sandi Ayala and Republican Registrar Joseph Borges on Nov. 9, Secretary of the State Susan Bysiewicz told The Courant that Park City officials had agreed to a voluntary count to address lingering questions about the credibility of the Election Day results. But in a written statement Tuesday, Bridgeport City Attorney Mark Anas-tasi said the registrars' discussions with Mara were "preliminary," and that no agreement had been reached. He asked Bysiewicz to cite the law that gives her the power to require such a count. "We agree my office doesn't have the statutory authority to order the audit," Bysiewicz said Wednesday. "We disagree on the public policy. This was an opportunity to dispel a dark cloud hanging over those precincts." When ballots ran out, officials used photocopies that couldn't be fed into the optical scanners and had to be hand-counted. State Republican Party officials have filed complaints with the State Elections Enforcement Commission over the use of photocopies. The registrars office had ordered just over 20,000 ballots for almost 70,000 registered voters. The turnout in some precincts reached 50 percent, Borges has said. Bridgeport Mayor Bill Finch put together a bipartisan panel to study the Election Day problems. The three-member panel held its first public meeting Tuesday. "We want to hear firsthand accounts of problems and issues faced by any Bridgeport voters who went to the polls to vote on Election Day, Nov. 2," panel Chairman Nicholas Panuzio said in a written statement before Tuesday's meeting. He is a former Republican mayor of Bridgeport. State Rep. Charles "Don" demons, D-Bridgeport, has proposed a bill requiring that cities and towns order one ballot for each registered voter, to be paid for by the state's Clean Election Fund. College Enrollment Tops 200,000 Post University Sees 52.2 Percent Increase By KATHLEEN MEGAN kathy.megancourant.com For the first time, enrollment in Connecticut's public and private colleges and universities broke 200,000 this fall, driven by soaring numbers at community colleges and at eight of the state's private colleges, including four for-profit schools. Overall, the increase from fall 2009 to fall 2010 was 3.8 percent, bringing the total number of students to 200,624. The numbers were announced at a meeting of the state Board of Governors for Higher Education Wednesday, but the positive news was tempered by warnings that the surging numbers might soon take a dip, as the college-age population declines in the next few years. "We have been riding a demographic wave of high school graduates, but the demographic wave is about ready to turn," Michael Meotti, higher education commissioner, said after the meeting. The enrollment increases reported Wednesday were dramatic: 5.7 percent in the community colleges, 5.3 percent at Quinnipiac University, 20.2 percent at St. Joseph College, and 34 percent at Goodwin College. Among the for-profit independent colleges, Post University had one of the greatest percentage increases in enrollment 52.2 percent mostly the result of the Waterbury university's online program. Post's online program has grown from 179 students in 2004 to 5,500 this fall. Post was reaccredited by the board of governors at Wednesday's meeting, but the massive growth of the university raised questions for some board members. "We are not concerned because we see something bad going on," Meotti said, "but rapid growth, just like rapid decline, is a sign that says you need to dig a little deeper into what's going on and ask are they prepared to handle rapid change." Brian J. Flaherty, vice chairman of the board of governors, said after the meeting that the state might want to review its accrediting and licensing procedures to ensure effective assessment of the growing number of for-profit and online schools. William H. McDonald, vice president for academic affairs at Post University, said the state is correct to be concerned. "This concept of online is new and within that there are these terrific variations between well-run high-integrity institutions and really sort of fly-by -nights. ... We welcome the review and the scrutiny." Ultimately, Post University hopes to serve 20,000 to 30,000 online students, though doing so would require expanding the faculty, said Francis X. Mul-grew, president of Post's online program. The other for-profit programs that saw growth this year were Lincoln College of New England in Southington formerly Briarwood College up 24 percent; Lincoln College of New England in Suffield, up 18.6 percent; and Sanford Brown College formerly Gibbs College up 59.1 percent. H FROM THE BLOGS Study Is Right: State Locks Up Too Many ere's an interesting question: Are we safer because of harsher state drug laws such as strict penalties for drug arrests near schools or are we just corralling more people and filling up prison cells with inmates who ought not to be living at taxpayers' expense? I don't know, but I'm glad a business group studying state spending is starting to ask questions about the cost of our correction, parole and probation systems an $800 million behemoth that continues to grow. Just maybe, the report from the Connecticut Regional Institute for the 21st Century politely suggests, we are locking too many people up. The cost is astonishing: The state Department of Correction budget has increased 280 percent since 1990. We spend about $92 per day, per inmate, in Connecticut. Our present prison population is about 18,500. "One of the most promising findings of the institute's study is that increased incarceration does not reduce crime," concludes a summary of the study, which was prepared by BlumShapiro, a local accounting and consulting firm. "Once the most serious offenders are locked up . . . the crime prevention pay-off of additional incarcerations declines and overall costs to society may actually increase." The study, important because it is backed by leaders of the state's business community, makes a number of suggestions, including: Decrease the prison population by releasing low-risk offenders. Prisoner re-entry programs must be expanded and state businesses must commit to hiring more ex-offenders. Renegotiate costly union contracts. Expand collaboration with community organizations that work with ex-offenders. Provide more unified leadership of correction, parole and probation systems. Examine more closely why we jail so many minorities. "This is one of the higher-cost items in the state budget. To the extent that we can deliver services more efficiently, that helps everyone," said James Torgerson, CEO of UIL Holdings and chairman of the regional institute's steering committee. "We have got to make sure there are jobs for ex-offenders. The business community has got to step up." Brian Renstrom, a partner at BlumShapiro, told me Connecticut has been doing many innovative things, such as emphasizing prisoner re-entry programs and reducing the number of inmates who return to prison. "What is it that we want to accomplish?" Renstrom asked me. "Do we want to lock up petty drug offenders? Is that making us safer?" We know that locking more and more people up doesn't make our streets safer. Over the last few decades, the prison population has grown even though the number of accused has remained largely steady. It's significant progress that business leaders are waking up to prison reform. It's now time for our new governor and state legislature to pay close attention. Rick Green To read more blog posts go to courant.comrick - SSL BUY ONE GET ONE H p on Lyocell Down, GridZone & Comfort Foam Pillows Let our Sleep Experts show you the latest innovations in sleep. If you're not sleeping comfortably, let us PillowFit you to your perfect pillow. Only at a Sleep Number store. ( f ft -M t0 '' 20-30 OFF Pillows, Sheets, Comforters and Blankets. Hurry, offer ends 112410.

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