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August 8, 2020
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A Full Accounting

Published July 29, 2020

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Several Connecticut newspapers recently printed a list of companies receiving PPP (paycheck protection loans). Among those listed was Centerbrook-based Tower Laboratories, owned by Essex First Selectman and State Senator Norm Needleman (D-33). Needleman’s firm received between $2- and $5 million of taxpayer funds.

Manufacturing has been exempt from closure and it is hard to imagine that COVID-19 has significantly impacted sales of effervescent products.

A July 8 article published by the CT Examiner “A Closer Look at as much as $7.8 Billion in Subsidies to Connecticut Businesses” states that Needleman said that all the rules had been followed. Your readers may recall the significant outrage at restaurant chains such as Shake Shack and Ruth Chris. These firms, unlike Tower Labs, were actually forced to suspend operations and, likewise, followed all the rules.

The CT Examiner article states that Needleman also said that he was able to give his hourly employees a $2 an hour raise and that salaried personnel received a five-percent pay increase. Even on the low, $2 million end of the range, the funds should cover the cost of these raises for the next 10 years. Don’t get me wrong, it’s great for those workers, but it does little for the businesses who were turned away after the program ran out of funds. COVID-19 closures aside, lots of business owners would love to give their employees raises, especially if not funded from their own bottom line.

One might also ask why the Needleman could not afford to give raises from his own funds. In 2018 he spent more than $500,000 of his own money to win his senate seat. He’s already deposited $200,000 into his campaign account for 2020.

Money is fungible; taxpayers deserve a full accounting from Needleman.

Harry Ruppenicker
Westbrook