Letter to the Editor: Does John Shaban Share Our Values?

Leon Karvelis writes: "But, there is a dark side of his voting record and decision-making that is troubling in many respects and which prompted my run in opposition to him."


To the Editor:

In 2010, John Shaban ran for an open seat in the 135th AD after the retirement of John Stripp. In completing his first term, Mr. Shaban now possesses something he didn't have that year: a voting record.

A review of that record indicates his support of certain measures which I would have supported, including local input on cell tower placement and measures to protect the investments of folks in adult retirement communities. But, there is a dark side of his voting record and decision-making that is troubling in many respects and which prompted my run in opposition to him.

Let me provide some examples:

 — His failing grades from the CT League of Conservation Voters for two years in a row have indicated a callous disdain for protecting the environment. The League has characterized Mr. Shaban as "a problem". Mr. Shaban's rambling defense of his failing environmental record rings quite hollow in the face of many other local Republican and Democratic legislators who had much higher grades because they voted responsibly to protect the environment rather than hiding behind excuses. Most notably, Mr. Shaban's attempt to roll back our landmark Environmental Policy Act protecting against polluting developers represents betrayal of our state's long-standing tradition of strong protection of our open spaces, air and water quality. Mr. Shaban's constant claim of being an environmental attorney is true, but lawyers have the capacity to be on either side of any issue. His poor record leaves open the question of which side this environmental attorney is on.

— Lacking evidence of compassion, he voted against a bill that became law to discontinue employer discrimination against people in the workplace on the basis of personal gender preference.

— He voted in 2011 against  group health insurance coverage for MRIs for women with dense breast tissue for early cancer detection, and to deny coverage for certain therapies for men with prostate cancer or for covering ostomy supplies for people with compromised digestive systems.

— Mr. Shaban fought including safety disclaimer notices on web dating sites designed to protect women from predators. Similar laws have been enacted in New Jersey and New York.

— He also voted against child abuse referrals to DCF of uninvestigated complaints in the same household when domestic animal abuse is proven. The FBI has discerned a connection between the two in affected households over years of research. Many states have passed similar statutes.

— He claims that he supports small business, but he voted in the minority to allow giant insurers to steer auto glass repair business to affiliate Safelite instead of local shops. His vote would have adversely affected both consumers and local businesses.

— One of the first bills he sponsored would have needlessly "reformed" long settled law concerning construction mechanics' liens and, according to the CT Construction Industry Association lobbyist, this would have resulted in higher costs for contractors, project slowdowns and more work for lawyers.

— Mr. Shaban unwisely supports converting Connecticut into a voter initiative state where a small minority of petitioning voters could place changes in the state constitution or statutes on the ballot. In states which have such systems, serious financial and social problems have often followed media-driven "frenzies of the moment" to impose unwise and often unconstitutional provisions into law.

Perhaps his most puzzling action is serving as a dues-paying legislative member of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC). This organization is a 'bill mill' founded by the Koch Brothers in 1976 with many large corporate members. Their lobbyists meet secretly in sessions with state legislators from around the nation and cob up model bills designed to put money in corporate pockets.

ALEC model bills promote gutting the Federal Clean Air and Water Acts, preempting the ability of state attorneys general to protect consumers, disallowing pharmaceutical reimportation to end helping seniors with high drug costs, promoting the unregulated sale of flavored moist tobacco products, privatizing public schools and prisons and facilitating mining, fracking and drilling activities without EPA regulation, among other things. How does this help our District? Are ALEC, the Koch Brothers and their corporate allies providing Mr. Shaban with his marching orders, or are his constituents? His membership in the group has only served to compromise his legislative credibility.

A group of major companies (e.g. GE, Walgreen, Yum Brands, Coca Cola, Pepsi, Walgreen, MacDonald's, etc.) and legislators from many states have resigned ALEC membership recently citing concerns over the positions the group has taken, particularly on social issues. One legislator from Missouri was quoted as saying that ALEC is not the innocuous, bipartisan organization it postures to be. But Mr. Shaban still remains a member. He even has gone so far as to compare the Connecticut League of Conservation Voters, an environmental not-for-profit watchdog, as a "special interest" group akin to corporate front ALEC in our recent Weston debate. Really? This comparison is preposterous.

I don't think the record of questionable judgment and flawed votes by Mr. Shaban is consistent with the views of most of the fair minded people of Redding, Weston and Easton. ALEC's extremist positions are consistent with those of people contributing to the partisan divisiveness we are experiencing in Washington, DC. Such polarization has no place in Hartford where we should strive for consensus in resolution of the serious issues of reengineering our economy, fixing our fiscal house and reforming education our state faces.

My background of over thirty years as a leading expert in private sector analysis of state and local finance and economics, as an inner city school teacher and elected member of a high achieving school district, as a small business owner and, since retirement, a community volunteer, is far more appropriate to the challenges currently faced by our state. I am proud of being endorsed by the Sierra Club for my environmental positions, by Uniformed Firefighters for my support of first responders, and by Republican and Democrat community leaders alike for my evenhanded approach to responsible and efficient government. I am running un-conflicted by allegiance to any career, client, lobbyist, corporation, extremist special interest group or union. My only "special interests" will be yours.

Leon Karvelis
Candidate, 135th Assembly District
Redding, Weston and Easton


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