Archive for November, 2006

What’s In a Name?
November 24, 2006

What a year we’ve had for Friday Night Football!

FNF is one of the highlights of Eyewitness News, and I look forward to it every fall.

It’s fascinating to follow the different teams from all over Connecticut, and we love to talk about the mascots.

And, there are some great ones, including the Wreckers of Staples High School is one of my favorites, along with the Whippets of Windham. They are originals, as are the New London Whalers — appropriate for the Whaling City — and the Wilbur Cross (New Haven) Governors.

Wilbur Cross was governor of Connecticut from 1931 to 1939. One of the best: The Danbury Hatters, a perfect choice for the Hat City.

Another great name is the East Hampton Bellringers, although they do not have a football team. Bells were made there for years.

Two team names represent geography: The New Milford Green Wave, an homage to the Litchfield Hills surrounding this bucolic town. Ditto for Darien: The Blue Wave is a salute to Long Island Sound, where this town sits.

Some schools have nicknames that you won’t hear anywhere else in our state, includes, among others:

  • The Bloomfield Warhawks
  • Fairfield Prep Jesuits
  • Hartford Public Owls
  • Hyde-New Haven Howling Wolves
  • New Britain Golden Hurricanes
  • Shelton Gaels

Would the real Indians please stand up?

Many other names are far less original. There are no fewer than eight schools that call themselves the Indians, and some towns are actually right next to each other!

Farmington and Newington share a border and have identical nicknames, and right next door in West Hartford, Northwest Catholic is also the Indians.

A few miles away, these Indians can play the Manchester Indians, and Indians also play in North Haven, Guilford, Montville, and Watertown.

Other towns have nicknames that honor Native Americans like the RHAM (Hebron) Sachems, the Coventry Chieftains, and the Wilton Warriors.

There is also a flock of football Falcons, including:

  • Avon
  • Fermi of Enfield
  • Fitch of Groton
  • Ludlowe of Fairfield
  • Barlow of Redding
  • St. Paul of Bristol
  • Xavier of Middletown

Another interesting thing about some schools is that they are named for people rather than the town, even when they are the only school in town. Other examples include Staples of Westport, Daniel Hand of Madison, Morgan of Clinton. I’ve lived in several different states and I find this phenomenon unique to Connecticut.

Have a great Thanksgiving watching football, or maybe even playing football, and I’d like to know what you think. Click on the “Comments” link as follows.

What an (Election) Year
November 9, 2006

Election 2006 is but a memory, but what a year it was. Ever since the Lowell Weicker-Joe Lieberman battle of 1988, it had become tradition in Connecticut that Senate races be boring. Very boring. We’re talking nap-inducing snooze-fests in which the incumbents sailed to re-election with nary a ripple.

Then along came Ned Lamont, and Lieberman’s usually smooth road to re-election was suddenly rocky with a fourth term left in question. The primary attracted national attention as Lamont and Lieberman spent millions on television commercials, some of which aired during just about every commercial break here on WFSB.

The races for congress in the 2nd, 4th and 5th Districts were all barn burners, and in the 5th, incumbent Rep. Nancy Johnson lost the seat she first won in 1982.

Connecticut voters are a fiercely independent bunch and have no problem firing an incumbent politician. Remember Sen. Lowell Weicker? Rep. Gary Franks? Rep. Sam Gejdensen? Mayor Carrie Perry?

The 1st and 3rd congressional district races were blowouts with John Larson and Rosa DeLauro recording landslide wins, respectively. We haven’t had a good old-fashioned race in the 3rd in years and the last time the 1st was competitive was in 1998, when current U.S. Attorney Kevin O’Connor showed Republicans you can do well in a Democratic district if you try. Let’s hope for tighter races in those districts in 2008 for the sake of the voters and reporters who love covering a horse race.

At least this year’s dull races were better than what our neighbors in the Bay State slept through: Half of the congressional races in Massachusetts weren’t races at all: Five victors all ran unopposed! It was a like a team forfeiting a game. What kind of message does that send to children? “Don’t even bother trying,” was the message sent to half of Massachusetts.

It won’t be long before Campaign 2007 begins, bringing us municipal elections all over the state. Will John DeStefano run for mayor of New Haven again? Will Hartford Mayor Eddie Perez seek a third term? Can Republicans capture Hartford City Hall for the first time since Ann Ucello was re-elected in 1969?

Then there is 2008. It’s highly unlikely we’ll see any presidential candidates coming to Connecticut in 2008. In 2004, we served merely as a fly-in ATM for the Bush/Cheney and Kerry/Edwards teams. The vice president and his challenger came here to raise money, not to campaign and meet the voters.

After the Democratic National Convention in Boston, the newly anointed Kerry/Edwards duo jumped in a bus and headed for Connecticut, spending about an hour here. The problem was, it was an hour on the highway, without a stop. They were just driving through on their way to New York!

Connecticut’s primary is on the same day as several bigger states, and with only seven electoral votes, we’re even less of an attraction during the general campaign. Not to mention we are a solid blue state taken for granted by Democrats and written off by Republicans.

But it wasn’t always that way. Sen. John Kerry, former Vice President Al Gore and former President Bill Clinton carried our state the last four elections. Granted, no Republican has carried Connecticut since George H.W. Bush in 1988, but Ronald Reagan won here in 1980 and 1984, Gerald Ford in 1976 and Richard Nixon in 1972. Presidential candidates used to come here often and the Connecticut voter was better for it.

The General Assembly is also growing bluer. The Democrats now have a veto-proof majority, meaning Gov. Jodi Rell’s veto power is very limited.

One position that remains bright fire engine red is the state’s top office, which has now eluded the Democrats for 20 years. This year marks the fifth consecutive gubernatorial election they have lost and it hasn’t even been close since 1994 when there was a three-way race. Governor Rell coasted to victory, winning by one of the largest margins in recent Connecticut history — 63 percent of voters chose Rell, an accomplishment seen only once in the past 20 years by John Rowland in 1998.

I’m sure Democrats have already started thinking about 2010. The big factor: Will Governor Rell seek re-election? Who will be a fresh face for the Democrats? State Treasurer Denise Nappier? Will John DeStefano run again? Dan Malloy?

As for any Nutmeggers going national, we have U.S. Sen. Chris Dodd testing the presidential waters for 2008. He has already started touring the country and raising money because the New Hampshire primary is only 14 months away.

We’re never too far away from an election, and I hope for all of us, the next one is as exciting as the last one.

I’d love to hear what you think. Please click on “Comments” below and be sure to include your city or town.

  • Read Also: 2006 Reminiscent Of Elections Past
  • Dennis Recalls Election Days Past
    November 7, 2006

    As you might imagine, today is one of the busiest days of the year in the Eyewitness Newsroom. Election Day brings in just about everybody who works at Broadcast House, people from all corners of the WFSB operation.

    Election Day is one of my favorite days to work. It is exhilarating to watch history unfold minute by minute.

    The first election I covered was primary night in March 1988 in Rhode Island, where I was working for WPRI in Providence. I was sent to Democratic headquarters where local politicians celebrated a win by Michael Dukakis. The faces in the crowd included Patrick Kennedy, who was running for state representative.

    My future father-in-law, Bruce Sundlun, was also there. He was campaigning for governor. I later covered elections in New Hampshire, Illinois and Michigan. In 1992, I remember waiting in the freezing cold in Kalamazoo covering a campaign stop by President George H.W. Bush, who was running for re-election.

    My first election for WFSB was later that year. Back then, Connecticut was more of a player in presidential politics and we had plenty of visits by the candidates. We still marvel at the fact that former California governor Jerry “Moonbeam” Brown won the 1992 Connecticut primary — beating Bill Clinton!

    Campaign 2006 has garnered tremendous scrutiny for our state. Walk by the Goodwin Hotel in Hartford and you’ll see satellite trucks from CNN, CBS, etc. All are here to broadcast to the nation how YOU are voting today.

    For a small state with only five congressional seats, Constitution State voters will wield considerable influence on the makeup of the next Congress. From Goshen to Greenwich, to Groton to Grosvernordale, ballots cast will have an impact across the nation.

    We have a new feature for Campaign 2006: Webcasts. We’ll have updates every hour on and up-to-the-minute election returns.

    Forever Gone From Election Night

    One thing is missing from our election coverage this year — in fact, gone forever — is a staple of Eyewitness News election coverage since the last time the Democrats won the governorship: Denise’s election dress. The velvet navy blue frock with the red lapels has been unceremoniously retired.

    On the recommendation of an image consultant, the dress, with its gold-button-laced bodice, will be donated to charity. When Denise first wore it for an election night, Ronald Reagan was president, there was no Internet and Falcon Crest ruled the television ratings.

    Angela Channing, a Flock of Seagulls, and the election dress are all icons of a bygone era. But if you are hankering for a blast from the past, and really want to see some shoulder pads like the ones in Denise’s dress, head over to the Bushnell in Hartford, where two icons from the 1980s will be wearing them: Linda Evans and Joan Collins of Dynasty. They are starting a weeklong run, poking fun at their days on Dynasty.

    Go vote!

    November 4, 2006

    Anyone who commutes to downtown Hartford will want to see my report on jaywalking Monday night at 11. Anyone who walks through downtown
    should watch it. Yes, even the jaywalkers should see it.

    Every day, jaywalkers create traffic jams. How? When the light is
    green — and the bright orange hand indicates to pedestrians they should stay put — jaywalkers just stroll into traffic. They don’t jog, they often walk briskly. In fact, some even saunter.

    They bring a stream of rush-hour commuters to a halt, not to mention putting themselves in danger.

    A careless pedestrian can cause you to be late for work. I should know. Kara and I walk through downtown daily. We experience
    the perils of drivers going too fast, running red lights and parking on crosswalks. (More reasons to use caution when walking.)

    I really don’t get it. We have crosswalks and the lights are timed to allow pedestrians and drivers to peacefully co-exist. There are laws in place to prevent accidents and keep everybody safe.

    Yet, on a regular basis, pedestrians choose to show a lack of consideration for drivers and they jaywalk.

    In our report, you hear the excuses and hear from police — what HPD has to say may surprise you.

    Watch Monday night on Eyewitness News at 11 and let me know what you


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