Archive for February, 2010

Oz on Face: He’s no Jodi Rell
February 25, 2010

Oz Griebel, me, Rick Green of the Hartford Courant and Brian Lockhart of the Stamford Advocate

The state budget is a mess. Connecticut is losing jobs and losing its influence . Whoever becomes governor will have to make dramatic changes to turn the land of steady habits around. Last week, Ned Lamont said he was fine with the two Democrats in charge of the budget crisis being re-elected. The Republican in charge of the budget crisis isn’t running and GOP candidate for governor Oz Griebel says her way of running the state won’t be sticking around either if he is elected.

During a taping of “Face the State” Griebel became the first Republican candidate for governor to break ranks with Governor Rell. The president of the Metro Hartford Alliance was hesitant to criticize the Governor, but spelled out how would he have done things differently. One thing was clear: a Governor Griebel will much more active and hands on than Governor Rell.

When asked if he would have gone to the National Governor’s conference attended by President Obama, Griebel said “yes.” Rell was roundly criticized for not going, even though the governor of Guam flew in from the other side of the planet.

Griebel: “I really believe it is vitally important the governor be the face of the state , that the governor be the chief business development officer of the state. Not only do other governors go to these events but many major businesses do as well and I think it is important that the governor communicate to businesses that Connecticut is open for business and we are eager to retain jobs we have and gain new ones.”

That wasn’t all. Without mentioning Governor Rell by name, Griebel spelled out his philosophy on governing, which is in sharp contrast to how Rell runs the state.

” In this kind of global economy you have to understand that every state and many countries are going after these jobs. If Connecticut doesn’t have a hungry governor, there are 49 others out there eager to eat our lunch.”

“It is vitally important that a governor stay involved in this. This is a 6 or 7 day a week job.”

Ironically, Governor Rell could have kept Griebel and a few others stay out of the race had she endorsed Lt. Governor Michael Fedele. It is unlikely they would have jumped into the race knowing they would have to run against the administration. 

Griebel is not a politician, which could be why his answers had a little more meat than those from some of the people who have come before him on “Face the State.” It is something reporters Rick Green, Brian Lockhart and I found somewhat refreshing.

Griebel also shares his views on tolls, taxes, Sunday liquor stores and more this Sunday morning at 11. Also, why he believes the next governor needs to be the defacto mayor of Hartford.

By the way, Griebel has hired the man who hired me. Chris Rohrs, General Manager of WFSB from 1989 to 1998 is now the Griebel campaign’s senior media advisor. Chris signed my first contract and paycheck back in 1992 and was  a familiar face to viewers for the award winning editorials he presented pertaining to all the issues of the day:  Governors Weicker and Rowland, the income tax battle, casino gambling, and more.



Chris Rohrs, Oz Griebel, and me


Lamont: no tolls, but won’t rule out new taxes, new focus on cities
February 18, 2010

The label “Liberal Democrat” isn’t exactly a helpful thing for a candidate to have around one’s neck in 2010, and newly declared candidate for Governor Ned Lamont seems to know this.   When asked if he still considers himself a “Liberal Democrat,” he said no, I’m a “Progressive Democrat.”  

Lamont is our guest on Face the State this Sunday.  During the taping, Lamont talked about the extremely tough job he will face if elected to succeed Governor Rell.  The state is in an economic crisis and the next Governor will be forced to make some unpopular decisions.  In fact, some are speculating the next Governor will soon be so unpopular, there won’t be a second term, much like Governor Lowell Weicker. 

I’ll save the details for Sunday, but Lamont told us he is opposed to the resurrection of tolls, but supports lifting the ancient blue laws that ban the sale of liquor on Sundays.   In a lenghty exchange with WNPR’s Jeff Cohen he also would also not rule out raising taxes or implementing new ones.

Also, Paul Hughes of the Waterbury Republican American grilled Lamont on the unions of state workers  and whether they will have to make concessions to help balance the budget.  

We also asked about whether Speaker Chris Donovan and  Senate President Don Williams should keep their jobs since they, like Governor Rell have been at the wheel during this crisis.

Lamont also promised to focus on the state’s troubled cities and wants an end to jobs and companies fleeing for the suburbs.

See you at 11AM on Sunday.

Snow and the City
February 16, 2010

The University of Connecticut Law School campus where Al Terzi graduated.  Eric Parker and Jessica Schneider are soon to be alumni.    Al gave Eric and Jessica pointers.  “Kick the ball toward the middle of the net.”   

State House Square.   We miss the occasional dinners at Morton’s with the bosses. 

Broadcast Hole 

Bank of America in Asylum Hill.   Wouldn’t it be nice if all banks and smaller office buildings looked as good as this? 

Bushnell Park is a great place for sledding.  Seriously.

New Haven developer David Nyberg just won an architectural award for his restoration of this historic building on Farmington Avenue.  Hallie Jackson’s beau also worked on this beauty.  Wouldn’t it be nice if other landlords  in the city did the same with their properties? 

One of Hartford’s most historic streets, Capitol Avenue.   The brownstones were built in 1871.  The Butler McCook House a century earlier.  Kara and I lived on Capitol Avenue for the better part of 7 years.

The entrance to the Hoadley Bridge in Bushnell Park.  What….you say, there is no bridge  in Bushnell Park?  You are right…but there was. 

The bridge was demolished and the Park River buried as part of the “Destroy Hartford” campaign of the mid 20th century.  That program led to the demolition of entire neighborhoods, and dozens of beautiful buildings, but that is a story for another blog.

The Art of the Announcement
February 15, 2010

Ned Lamont  is getting ready for  an announcement regarding his political future.   It is expected he will throw his hat in the ring in the race for governor, and in terms of the announcement itself, he is getting off to a good start.   

The way a candidate begins his or her campaign is vitally important.  The goal is to get maximum media coverage.    Making the announcement in Hartford is the first step. 

The capital city is the media capital of  Connecticut, and making an announcement there pretty much guarantees you the most coverage.  Just about every news gathering organization in our state has a reporter stationed in Hartford to cover the State Capitol.  Television stations WFSB, WVIT, WTIC and CPTV are located in the city or the suburbs and WTNH has a newsroom in the city.    The state’s largest newspaper is in Hartford, and the state’s most powerful radio station is in the Hartford burbs.  Ned Lamont and his advisors get this.   Lamont will make his announcement at the Old State House in downtown Hartford.  

Some candidates want to announce in their hometown.   I’m not sure this would have worked for Lamont.   His advisors probably cautioned that some voters might be turned off  by seeing his face on television with a graphic that read “Greenwich” at the bottom of the screen.   

Jim Amann chose to make his announcement in his native Bridgeport.  Not a good call.  Ditto for Mark Boughton who chose Bethel….at 6PM.  More on that later.

 Channel 3 along with Channels, 8, 30 and 61 are part of the Hartford/New Haven television market.  Fairfield County is not included in that coverage area.  People certainly watch us in Fairfield County, but the FCC has assigned that part of our state to the New York television market, even though Bridgeport and Danbury are closer to Hartford than New York City.    That market distinction impacts the way we cover news.  

We cover the daily happenings in the Hartford/New Haven market which gives a  tremendous advantage to candidates from that area.  In 2006 if candidate for governor and New Haven Mayor John DeStefano held a news conference regarding crime statistics, the stations were there and he was on the 6PM news.   If his opponent, Stamford Mayor Dan Malloy, held a similar news conference, we weren’t there and he wasn’t on the evening news.  The New York stations should be covering the daily news of Stamford, but honestly, they could care less.   

Malloy understood this, and has a made a tremendous effort to spend time in the Hartford/New Haven area, be it on “Face the State” or at the capitol.   If he decides to run this time, look for his announcement to take place in Hartford. 

Back to Boughton’s announcement.   Bethel on a Monday at 6PM.   A bad call all around.    Bethel is in Fairfield County, and that meant a commitment by a television station to have a satellite truck in Bethel during a newscast .     Boughton’s campaign kickoff was not covered as extensively as it should have been because of the location and the time.   Holding a news conference during a newscast is risky.  There is a slight chance it will be carried live, but there is a much greater chance the stations resources will be tied up elsewhere, and it won’t be covered at all.     Boughton did not get the maximum media coverage.

Oz Griebel kicked off his campaign with two announcements:  one in Torrington and of course, one in Hartford.  Tom Foley had his in Hartford, but that wasn’t handled well.   He didn’t take questions, and was criticized for it.   Lt. Governor Michael Fedele announced at a business gathering in Cromwell.

None of the Senate candidates planned their announcements particularly well, with Peter Schiff being the worst.  He went to New York to announce a run for a Connecticut senate seat on cable network MSNBC during the program “Morning Joe.”    A person close to Schiff told me it was an effort to make one single announcement to a large audience.   Problem was each of the local  television stations has a larger audience in Connecticut than “Morning Joe.”    The amount of voters who watched Schiff’s announcement was pretty small… rivaling “Dora the Explorer” on Nick Jr.   

If I were advising a candidate, I would recommend having a campaign kickoff  midday on a Wednesday.  Midday allows the television and radio crews to put together stories for the evening news and afternoon drive.   It makes the newspaper on Thursday.  I’m told readership is high on that day.  Plus, some newspapers like the Hartford Courant  are offering Thursday through Sunday delivery packages because readership is down early in the week.   

Also…take some questions from reporters and get yourself on “Face the State!”

This Week on Face the State
February 12, 2010

This Sunday we are joined by the 2006 Democratic nominee for Governor, John DeStefano, Mayor of New Haven.  DeStefano talks about this year’s race, his changing city, education reforms, Sunday liquor sales and why he was absent at the groundbreaking for Gateway Community College, hosted by Governor Rell.

Also, we talk about the way state government spends your money.  Why did the Department of Correction spend $600 to hire a clown?  Fergus Cullen of the Yankee Institute for Public Policy has the questionable expenditures on his new website

See you Sunday

A Gift for Fedele from Governor Rell?
February 9, 2010

Reporters, this one included, were a little surprised to see Lt. Governor Michael Fedele at the news conference following the explosion at the Kleen Energy Plant in Middletown, and very surprised NOT to see Governor Rell.    Our friend Brian Lockhart at the Stamford Advocate has the details

However, one has to wonder if there is more to it.   The plant explosion was a huge story that made national news.    Think about it, when we watch coverage  on CNN and the other cable networks of wildfires in California we see Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger overseeing the operation and fielding questions.   Hurricanes in Florida, we see Governor Charlie Crist, and so on.   On Sunday for the plant explosion, the nation did not see Governor Rell, but rather the Lieutenant Governor of Connecticut.    That is certainly unusual.    In fact, it wasn’t until well into Monday that Governor Rell appeared on television,  although she did telephone interviews Monday morning. 

It would be in extremely poor taste for them to admit it, but Fedele’s people have to be thrilled that the Governor skipped the news conference and let their man represent the state on national television.   At a time when former Ambassador to Ireland and candidate for governor Tom Foley is all over the airwaves with commercials, Fedele got free air time on all four local television stations on Super Bowl Sunday when record numbers of television sets were on.    Tens of thousands of voters were watching.    Voters and viewers got the clear impression that the Lt. Governor was running the state.    Fedele can put a check next to “stature enhancement” on his campaign checklist.

Sunday was a boost Fedele needed.   His  campaign got off to rocky start after he told reporters Governor Rell had privately endorsed him.  The Governor later said that wasn’t the case and that an endorsement from her may not come until after the primary.  Ouch.  

Let’s suppose for a moment Rell HAD endorsed Fedele when she announced she would not seek re-election.   It is possible Foley wouldn’t have jumped into the race.  Ditto for Metro Hartford Alliance President Oz Griebel and Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton.  Would they really have  taken on the chosen candidate of a Governor with such high approval ratings? 

Since then the polls have shown Foley to be the leader of the pack, but not by much.   A recent Quinnipiac Poll had 59% of Republicans undecided, so there is still time and room for Fedele to grow his support, but the road will be tougher without his State Capitol partner touting the strengths of the man she plucked from obscurity to be her running mate.  

Republicans will  meet for their convention in May, with Governor Rell presumably staying neutral.   But what happens if the delegates nominate Griebel, Foley, Boughton or someone else other than Fedele.    Will the Governor continue to stay out of the race, knowing her silence  could cost Fedele the primary in August?     Let’s face it, her endorsement won’t pack a lot of punch after the primary.   Does anyone think Rell would endorse Ned Lamont or Dan Malloy or any Democrat over her fellow Republican, even if it isn’t Fedele?  

I don’t think Rell’s decision to let Fedele take such a high profile role on Sunday was a calculated political move, but regardless it helped her right hand man.   Fedele needs Rell’s endorsement sooner than later, but in the meantime little gifts from the Governor can’t hurt.

Mark Boughton on Face the State: would have done things differently than Rell
February 4, 2010

This Sunday we are expecting lots of viewers tuning in to Channel 3.   We are airing a football game between Indianapolis and New Orleans and of course, Face the State.   

Our guest this Sunday is a man many of our viewers might be seeing for the first time:  Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton,  who is running for the Republican nomination for Governor.    Although unfamiliar to many people, he made national headlines because of his views on illegal immigration. 

During our taping, Boughton talked about that issue with guest reporters Christine Stuart of, Angela Dias of WTIC AM 1080, and me.    We also talked about what he would do to balance the budget, and he admits the current situation is not pretty.  Boughton said more cuts still won’t be enough  and we asked his opinion  about new revenue streams like tolls and Sunday liquor store openings.  

He didn’t criticize Governor Rell but said he would have done a few things differently than her doing the budget crisis.  “I would have vetoed the budget and locked up lawmakers until they passed a bill that passed the smell test,”  Boughton said.

Boughton also conceded he is now waffling on one issue.  You can see his explanation on Sunday.

I will tell you he called the car tax a “pain” and said it might be time to start “sunsetting” it.

See you Sunday at 11AM and don’t forget the wings.    Mild, please.


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