Monday, September 29, 2014

Meriden Drug Company Gets Grant, Praises Esty

One of the more interesting vagaries in any campaign season is when an incumbent politician puts out is press release abut something that happened in their district, but doesn't make it clear what role they played in making it happen.

Such was the case Monday when Fifth District Congresswoman Elizabeth Esty's office put out a press release about Meriden-based drug maker Protein Sciences receiving a $669,156 grant from the federal Department of Health and Human Services. The funding is from the National Cancer Institute through the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program and will be used to support lung cancer treatment. 

The release is pretty standard fare, with Esty saying nice things about the company and Protein Sciences saying nice things about the Democratic congresswoman. What neither side makes clear is whether Esty had a hand in securing the funding.

If she did, then she should make it clear. Because otherwise it looks like an attempt to hitch her campaign's wagon to some positive news in the Fifth District.

Esty, a Cheshire woman, is smart enough and honorable enough to know better than to leave it open to question. She's also an experienced lawmaker who is good enough at what she does to know better.

Here's what Esty and the company said said in the press release. First, Esty:
“Protein Sciences is on the cutting edge of developing innovative healthcare solutions for the 21st century, and it is no surprise that the Department of Health and Human Services awarded this funding,” she said. “Last year when I toured their facility, I saw first-hand how Protein Sciences stands as a global leader in the biotech industry, creating jobs here in Connecticut. This grant will allow Protein Sciences to continue to deliver life-saving technologies to effectively treat lung cancer patients and keep our families healthy.”

Now here's what Dan Adams, executive vice chairman and global head of business development for Protein Sciences said:
“We are gratified to be awarded this contract to help develop a novel approach to treating patients with lung cancer,” he said. “We are collaborating with UCLA and Vault Nano Inc., developers of the vault approach to targeted cell delivery, and using our proprietary baculovirus technology to manufacture recombinant vaults that will deliver a potent chemokine to tumors.

“Elizabeth Esty has been a strong supporter of our company and its proprietary technology that can transform the vaccine business with products such as Flublok and vaults.  She has been a leader in promoting groundbreaking Connecticut technologies such as ours in Washington, and we greatly appreciate her help,”  Adams said.

In the interest of full disclosure, an Esty staffer did reach out to me Monday and offered to provide me with additional information beyond the release. Coverage of other stories Monday did not permit me to make a call back.

I will follow up with a call to the Esty campaign Tuesday in an effort to get some answers to the questions that have been raised in this post. But tell me, dear reader, what conclusions do you draw having read what Esty and the company said. 

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Tuesday, September 9, 2014

More Mishegas At The Wallingford Housing Authority

Michael Misiti has resigned as chairman of  Wallingford Housing Authority and for at least the time being, we don't know why.

Misiti confirmed Tuesday afternoon that he had resigned, but refused to give a reason for his decision.

"Let's just say it was time," Misiti said.

It is his right not to offer a reason for his decision. Some may even consider it a classy move on his part for not getting into the reason for his departure.

But it has been my experience in decades working as journalist that if people have simple reasons for resigning for a job, they usually make them clear. Things like spending more time with family or needing to devote more time to work are the explanations most frequently used.

When somebody leaves a job and declines to offer an explanation, it's because they're trying to save somebody from being embarrassed. Sometimes, it is themselves, sometimes it is someone else, and in some cases, it is the organization or company they represent.

Let me say from the outset that I don't believe Misiti is leaving because he did anything wrong.

I have spent nearly a decade covering Wallingford and for much of that time, one story that never seemed to die was controversy involving the town Housing Authority. That all ended about the time Misiti joined the Authority in March 2011 and became its chairman soon afterward.

 Misiti was chosen because of his background in facilities maintenance. He is assistant director of facilities at Quinnipiac University.

 Things haven't been perfect at the agency by any means, including some difficulties this year developing an operating budget. But they are better than they were.

Based on my dealings with him, I can say Misiti was able to remove the Authority from its place as a local political football.

 That was something his two predecessors, Robert Prentice and the late William Fischer, couldn't do because they were both chairman of their respective Town Committees. Prentice still heads the Republican Town Committee and Fischer was a long time chairman of the Democratic Town Committee.

Much of controversy at the Authority prior to Misiti's arrival Nere, and allegations of questionable activity made against him by Democrats on the Authority. That all ended in November 2011 when Nere accepted a $130,000 buyout of his contract.
centered the housing agency's executive director, Stephen

I hope I'm wrong in speculating that Misiti's resignation signals a return to the bad old days when the Housing Authority was a cauldron of controversy. But there is something more here than meets the eye.

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