Archive for June, 2010

Weicker Blasts Blumenthal; Raises Trust Issue
June 30, 2010

They were neighbors in Greenwich,   colleagues at the State Capitol in the early 1990s, and both went to Yale.   A year ago,  they both endorsed embattled Senator Chris Dodd for re-election.     When Dodd dropped out, Lowell Weicker even called Dick Blumenthal to wish him well.   It looked like the always unpredictable and opinionated Weicker would once again spurn his former Republican party and endorse another Democrat:  the long time Attorney General.    

 Then May came along, and serious questions arose about Blumenthal’s military record and how he had characterized it.    Some say Blumenthal lied.   He says he misspoke.   However, Army veteran Weicker says Blumenthal intentionally embellished his record, and because of that he says there is no way he can support, endorse or vote for Dick Blumenthal.   

 In an interview set for this Sunday’s “Face the State” the former senator and governor told me Blumenthal’s statements about his military service are dishonorable and suggest he does not have the right stuff to be a U.S. senator, which Weicker says is a great honor.

 LW:  ” I think anyone who dissembles  their military service dishonors those who served and those who died in service of the United States and does not commend them to be a United States senator.  You can use any terms you want to use and Attorney General Blumenthal does.   I misspoke or a mistake or whatever it makes no difference .  That mispeaking or mistake was done quite a few things clearly to embellish his military record and if he is going to dissemble or fabricate over a matter like that , what trust will you have in that individual as a United States Senator?”

 Ruling out Blumenthal  doesn’t necessarily mean Weicker will support Linda McMahon, although it sounds as if he could,   if the former WWE CEO can show she is a different kind of Republican, and not completely in step with the GOP.  

Weicker served with McMahon on the WWE board and said he likes her “enormously. ”   and told me her business experience would make her a good senator.     He also thinks voters should not be bothered by WWE programming, calling it “PG entertainment,”    admitting old WWE programming from years ago was much different.    

DH - “when her critics say you should not vote for her because of this programming do you think- LW:  i think it nonsense it is nonsense there may be reasons not vote for her you may not like her stance on health care that is fair enough but not her association with WWE”

Hear from Weicker himself tonight on Eyewitness News at 5:30.   He also talked about the governor’s race, and Governors Rell and Rowland.  You can watch the entire interview with  Lowell Weicker this Sunday morning on Face the State at 11AM.

 

I’m now a columnist
June 30, 2010

I’m now a magazine columnist.    I was asked to write a monthly political column for Hartford Magazine and my first installment appears in the July issue. 

Writing for  print is much different than writing for television.  Many of the stories you see on Eyewitness News are 20 seconds long, with maybe 30-50 words.   I was told by editor Carol Latter to make my column 600 words.  Whoa!   Also the writing for television needs to be a little simpler.   Viewers can’t go back and re-watch what I just said on television so the writing needs to be crisp and concise. 

I was on the high school newspaper and wrote some stories I thought were pretty good….then.   Looking back at them now, they clearly needed some improvement!  My favorite piece was an expose on teachers and administrators who encouraged us to donate our lunch money and fast for a day to help the hungry.   Fair enough, so what were they doing at Burger King?    I was also assigned to write an opinion piece on why President Jimmy Carter should be re-elected.   Even in liberal Massachusetts, he was regarded as one of the worst presidents in history and I tell you, that was one tough assignment.

Anyway, I don’t profess that my column is in the league of a Rick Green,  Daniela Altimari, Colin McEnroe,  Brian Lockhart or Chris Powell or any of the other esteemed scribes our state is blessed with, but pick up a copy of Hartford Magazine and let me know what you think.

Perez Resigns, Segarra Sworn in as Mayor of Hartford
June 25, 2010

It happened quickly.  Mayor Eddie Perez resigned at 5PM today, and City Council President Pedro Segarra, a Democrat,  was sworn in by city clerk John Bazzano at 5:03PM.

Segarra is a former prosecutor, and corporation counsel.  A native of Puerto Rico he came to Hartford via the Bronx when he was 15.  He is the city’s first openly gay mayor and lives in the West End with his partner.   

Here is Segarra’s speech just before taking the oath:

“This is a difficult period for the City, but we need to join efforts to overcome our current differences and move our City forward. There are too many people depending on us to get the job done and we cannot and must not let them down. These are challenging financial times as well, so it is important to develop a work plan to take-on these issues quickly and effectively. I look forward to working with the Mayors in our surrounding towns and major cities as we deal with regional efforts. I will reach out to the Governor to see how the State can continue to assist the City. I also look forward to the support of the Hartford Delegation to ensure that the City’s voice is heard at the Legislative level as we are limited in our abilities to solve several issues at the local level.

But this isn’t just about government. It is about people and positive relationships in the community. I plan to meet with neighborhood leaders with the message that I am here to listen and learn. I extend that same message to our corporate and non-profit business partners as well, many of whom have already expressed a willingness to help.

There is a lot on Hartford’s plate right now and we need to address the City’s priorities immediately. I thank you for your support and look forward to taking Hartford to even greater heights and promise. There will be changes and these changes will come quickly. I want to thank you all for your patience and for your support.”

The 51 year old Segarra lays out his plans for the city this Sunday morning at 11AM on Face the State.

Linda McMahon on Blumenthal, Hart, Simmons & More
June 24, 2010

Republican candidate for Senate Linda McMahon is on “Face the State” this weekend talking about a host of issues.   When she was on last time we were criticized by some for spending too much time on wrestling, and no doubt those critics will spew some venom my way again this weekend. 

Quite often people will tell me that they like Linda McMahon and say they would like to see fresh face in the Senate.   This mother and grandmother  has the political gift of being able to connect with people in person, there is no doubt about it.  She is very easy to talk to and seems genuinely interested in people’s lives.     However, most of these people will also tell me they are concerned about the whole wrestling thing. 

We talked about this on Face the State and McMahon totally gets voters apprehension about her career.   She knows not everyone can relate to the WWE, which might explain why she is actually running clips from her past in her new commercials.   

We also talked about Dick Blumenthal and I asked her to describe what kind of person she thinks he is.   We talked about her campaign’s role in the NY Times story about Blumenthal’s military service.      McMahon also told me about a recent conversation she had with Rob Simmons.   As I reported on this blog a few days ago, we also talked about the lawsuit filed against McMahon and the WWE by the widow of wrestler Owen Hart.

It is all this Sunday on Face the State.

Next Mayor of Hartford: Pedro Segarra
June 24, 2010

One of our guests this week on “Face the State” is the next mayor of Hartford, Pedro Segarra.    Segarra is perhaps the most experienced mayor to run the capital city in a generation.  He is a former prosecutor, and corporation counsel who will likely be sworn in as mayor in the next week or so.

During our interview we talked about the tremendous disappointment Segarra feels about Mayor Eddie Perez, who in ten years when from a promising politician to convicted felon. 

We also talked about the number one issue facing the city:   the loss of thousands of jobs and millions in tax revenue.   During the past few years of the Perez administration several major corporations fled the city for suburbia, and City Hall was criticized for their role in the departures.   All you have do is look around downtown and see the impact these departures have had on the city.   The loss of thousands of feet on the street means empty stores and vacant lots that could have been developed.      A head of a local law firm told me just today, the inability or refusal to hold on to so many major employers will go down as the biggest mistake of the Perez administration. 

Segarra says one of his top priorities will be to recruit new businesses and restore the tax base that shrunk in recent years.     Investors will likely see the approachable Segarra as a welcome change.

You can watch the interview with the mayor-to-be this Sunday morning at 11AM on Face the State.

Bye Bye Home Sweet Home
June 24, 2010

A special era came to end for Kara and me today.   We sold our old house, the home where we spent the first years of our life together. 

It was the summer of 2000 when I moved into the historic brownstone in downtown Hartford.   The first meal in the new pad was pizza…..Kara and I sat  on the floor of an empty place with nary a stick of furniture in sight:  no curtains, nothing.    It was the beginning of a period in our life we will never forget.

That home was the scene of  Thanksgiving celebrations, family Christmas gatherings, a baby shower, engagement party, a magazine shoot, lots of painting, renovations, barbecues, going away bashes, pool matches and our traditional St. Patrick’s Day Parade parties.    The parade went right by our front steps.  

 We watched the First Night fireworks from our living room and often just kicked back and gazed at the skyline.    The views were amazing.

In early 2007 we took Helena home from the hospital to the brownstone to a nursery Kara designed and I painted.   It was featured in the Hartford Courant along with our colleagues Rebecca Stewart and Jamie Muro who also did the nursery thing for their son Charlie.    We had planned on Helena growing up in the brownstone until reality started setting in. 

The home had plenty of room and we loved the convenience of being able to walk to restaurants, concerts, events and for many years, work.   It had character everywhere including  multi-level rooms with 12 foot ceilings which unfortunately meant  lots of stairs.   I counted them once:  67 steps from the sidewalk to the top floor.    It didn’t phase us for years until we had to carry a baby up those stairs and a stroller, and a car seat, and the all the baby stuff.  Plus, we wanted to have a another baby so double the load!  

We also started to think we needed a yard with a swingset and other family types of things.   Life changes and your needs change.  It was time to say goodbye to downtown living.  

After we moved, we rented the place to two young professional women, and now we have sold the brownstone to an awesome couple who fell in love with the place just like we did.    They are the latest in a long string of people who called the brownstone home.  The first owner in 1871 was William Hamersley,  who later became a Connecticut Supreme Court Justice.    Like us, they all made memories in the brownstone.   The owner before us had their son’s briss in the dining room!

We wish the new owners  years of happiness in a home that made us so happy.     Who knows….when our kids are grown and off to college, maybe we’ll move back downtown.

The Perez Verdict: Where I was
June 23, 2010

I’ve been asked by several people why my blog was silent on Friday when Mayor Eddie Perez was found guilty in his corruption,  considering I had blogged on the case many times before.     Truth is, I was out of town, in Chicago for an annual pilgrimage to Wrigley Field my friends and I have done 23 straight summers.   

I got an e-mail from Kara shortly after landing at O’Hare:  “verdict in a half hour.”   As a journalist and also a city resident, I almost couldn’t believe I was missing the biggest story to hit Hartford in many years.  Then when I got the verdict I was trying to read it on my phone while the train was gumping and shaking.   I immediately called Pedro Segarra to find out what the city council was going to, hoping the connection would hold as the train went underground into the subway.  A few more calls later to a few other folks  and I had some decent information to phone in to WFSB assistant news director Patience Hettrick.

It was killing me not to be able to go to a TV or computer to watch the verdict.   I had to meet my buddies at the legendary “Murphy’s Bleachers”  in the shadow of Wrigley before the game.  I kept checking my phone for updates, but the news junkie in me was not satisfied.    

I got home Saturday night, celebrated Father’s Day and logged on to read all the news stories.  

As for Mayor Perez, he is doing the right thing by resigning.    There is no way having a convicted felon running a troubled city can be a good thing.      The city has been paralyzed economically during the corruption scandal, and one can only hope the developers and investors wary of dealing with an embattled mayor will see Hartford for what it really is:  a place of untapped potential. 

Coming up:  my blog on the next mayor of Hartford.

Scot Haney’s One Shining Moment
June 23, 2010

Channel 3′s Scot Haney is still basking in the glow of a big day in his life that happened last week.   No,  he didn’t interview a celebrity or win the lottery, but rather for a brief shining moment he was the “Master of the Road. ”   He had the privilege of driving my Buick Roadmaster.   Insert oohs and aahhs here. 

Last week Kara had the Roadmaster at Foxwoods and Scot had to leave early and couldn’t wait to travel with the crew, so he asked if he could borrow the luxuriant cruiser for the journey from Mashantucket to Metro Hartford.     After an exhaustive background check we handed  Scot  the keys.  Here he is picking up our baby from the valet saying a quick prayer that some day he too, will have the great fortune of owning a Roadmaster. 

Scot no doubt welcomed the break from the chore of driving his metallic phlegm-colored, perilously collapsible Japanese appliance that sounds like a lawnmower but isn’t nearly as powerful as one.    \

The voyage was somewhat confusing for Scot, as he marveled at the technology and wide array of options not found in his impotent import:  six way power seats, automatic lights, concert sound stereo, seating for 8 and 0-60 acceleration he hasn’t experienced since he test drove a Porsche.   The Roadmaster has the same engine as a Corvette, which is one reason they are sought after by collectors, and the reason the sticker price in 1995 for a brand new Buick Roadmaster Estate Wagon topped $30,000.

Where will Scot’s car be 15 years from now?   Likely in compressed pieces in the hands of convicts at Sing Sing as they craft scrap metal into license plates.

Scot was “Master of the Road”  for about an hour and saw Denise as he pulled in the Channel 3 parking lot.    “It’s like driving a couch,” Scot told her and remarked how you can’t feel any bumps or potholes.     That’s our ‘Master!     Safest ride he’s taken in a while.  

Reason # 725 I love the Roadmaster:  it holds a pool!

McMahon Speaks about Hart Lawsuit
June 22, 2010

Republican senate candidate Linda McMahon has spoken about a lawsuit filed against her and the WWE by Martha Hart, the widow of wrestler Owen Hartford.  In an interview with WFSB for “Face the State,” McMahon answered questions about the suit.  Here is a clip:

http://www.wfsb.com/video/24009339/index.html

“The accident with Owen Hart happened eleven years ago.  It was a devastating accident that Owen Hart lost his life and for Vince and I and the WWE and fans of the WWE our hearts and souls went out to Martha and her two young children.    It was our desire to make sure Martha and their children were cared for for the rest of their lives. This particular suit is a copyright issue a contract issue that the WWE will be dealing with.” 

I also asked McMahon if she felt her political opponents were somehow behind the announcement of the lawsuit.
“it was in Hartford today the suit was filed in Hartford the press conference was in hartford the WWE located in Stamford.  The  timing is what it is, we’ll see.” 
 
I also asked if she would advise her husband Vince to pull Owen Hart videos to satisfy the family.
“I think the WWE has always operated in its copyright rights.  If there is an issue it will dealt with appropriately.”

You can hear from Linda McMahon about the Hart lawsuit and more this  Sunday at 11AM on “Face the State.”   Details on what else we talked about later this week.

Malloy and Lamont Agree
June 17, 2010

If Mayor Eddie Perez is found guilty at his corruption trial, there won’t be any support from the two Democrats running for governor.  Through their spokespeople, both Dan Malloy and Ned Lamont told Eyewitness News Perez should resign.   Perez endorsed Lamont in the race for governor. 

We have asked Governor Rell the same question (should Perez resign if found guilty,)  but have not heard back from her office yet.

As we pointed out yesterday, the city charter does not have a provision preventing a mayor who is convicted of a felony from remaining in office.    A source told Eyewitness News there is a strong possibility that if convicted, the mayor would fight to keep his job.

http://dennishouse.wordpress.com/2010/06/16/convicted-perez-could-remain-as-mayor/

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