Archive for November, 2010

Covering Senator Dodd in D.C.
November 30, 2010

Eyewitness News is here in Washington to cover Senator Chris Dodd’s final speech on the senate floor.  We also taped this Sunday’s Face the State in his office, an office once inhabited by Dodd’s father, the late Senator Thomas Dodd.  

Here’s a sneak peek.  Look for our coverage on Eyewitness News and of course a full half hour for Face the State this Sunday at 11.

Baldwin: New Arena not Necessary for NHL Return to Hartford
November 26, 2010

          Howard Baldwin in front of the Hartford Civic Center (now the XL Center)  in the 1970s

There is a new era dawning at the State Capitol with a new Governor taking over in 6 weeks.  Ditto at  Hartford City Hall where a new mayor is making some big changes.  The same story across town at the XL Center, where former Hartford Whalers owner Howard Baldwin is back, marketing the state’s newly renamed minor league hockey team, the Connecticut Whale.

It is no secret Baldwin’s ultimate goal is to resurrect the NHL in Hartford.     Make no bones about it, that is one uphill battle, but Baldwin believes it can be done.  During  a taping of Face the State, Baldwin talks about what it will take to restore a Hartford Whalers team here.   He surprised me by saying a new arena isn’t an essential part of the equation, and during the taping he explained why.   His argument  is fascinating, and that should sit well with lawmakers who might be hesitant to help fund a new arena.

You can watch the entire interview with Howard Baldwin this Sunday morning at 11 on Face the State.

Also, Real Hartford has the story of a new Whalers store that just opened on Pratt Street.  http://www.realhartford.org/2010/11/24/storefront-filled-on-pratt-street/

Lt. Governor-elect Nancy Wyman Recovering from Face the State
November 25, 2010

This Sunday on Face the State, we have our first interview since the election with Lieutenant Governor-elect Nancy Wyman, shown here with some local girl scouts who were visiting our weather department.   

Wyman talked about the budget numbers and repeated what Governor-elect Malloy has been saying:  that this new administration will be honest about the fiscal problems the state is now mired in.    Malloy and Wyman have both said Governor Rell and legislative leaders were not truthful about just how bad things are.

I also asked her if she and the Governor-elect are prepared to serve just one term.   During teh campaign many politicos were saying whoever was elected was inheriting a mess, and should not expect to  be re-elected.    There’s a joke going around that one of Tom Foley’s advisors told him, “the bad news is you weren’t elected governor.  The good news is you weren’t elected governor.”

We hope the Lt. Governor rests this weekend.  Wyman was battling a cold, and suffered a minor coughing fit that required we take a quick commercial break.   After some water (from the Face the State mug) and a cough drop, the interview continued.  Happens to all of us!

You can watch the entire interview with Nancy Wyman, this Sunday morning at 11 on Face the State

Wyman talked about

Squash for the Holidays, and I’m not talking Butternut
November 24, 2010

In a state where sports is generally all things UConn, a team has been racking up an impressive record with little fanfare and acknowledgements limited to highway signs.    The Trinity College Bantams squash team has won 12 consecutive NCAA championships under the leadership of their coach, Paul Assaiante.

I came to know Coach Assaiante a few years back when I won some squash lessons from him at a charity auction.  I’d played racquetball and was familiar with Trinity’s successes, but had no idea how to play squash until I learned from the master.

While squash is certainly important, I’ve learned more from the coach’s new book, “Run to the Roar.”   It’s an autobiography with some valuable life lessons.   Here’s a man who is a father figure to scores of men from all over the world who have played squash under his tutelage.    Yet in the book, he says he “failed his own son.”     Assaiante talks candidly about his son’s battle with drugs.

“Run to the Roar” is in bookstores this weekend and is a must read for parents, (especially those juggling careers) sports fans, and for those who just want to learn more about one of Hartford’s greatest assets.   

Here is the interview with Coach Paul Assaiante from Face the State.

http://www.wfsb.com/local-video/index.html?grabnetworks={videoid:4439533}

Mayor Segarra Files Papers to Run in 2011
November 21, 2010

Hartford Mayor Pedro Segarra has filed the papers to run for mayor in 2011.   Segarra made the announcement during an exclusive interview on “Face the State” this morning.    

When Segarra took over the scandal plagued city following Eddie Perez’s corruption conviction and subsequent resignation, he said he had no plans to run next year because the city was in such bad shape, and he didn’t want to take away from the work at hand.    Segarra told me he changed his mind because he wanted to  send the message to investors and CEOs that if the voters will have him, he’ll continue to be the man at the helm.

Segarra’s bold approach to running the city has led to several accomplishments in a short amount of time.   The anti-business attitude of the Perez administration led to the loss of companies, jobs, and put the city in the state of inertia.    Segarra told me one of his top priorities has been economic development, which will create jobs.

There are two other declared candidates in the 2011 race for mayor:   Attorney Shawn Wooden, a Democrat,  and J. Stan McCauley, who ran as a Republican in 2007, but is now running as a Democrat.

In case you missed the interview we will have the story tonight on Eyewitness News, and the interview will be on wfsb.com tomorrow

McMahon Open to Running Again; One Day Ad Blitz set for Tuesday
November 18, 2010

In her first television interview since election night, Republican Linda McMahon gave signals that she may run for political office again, possibly in 2012 for the senate seat currently held by independent Joe Lieberman.   

During  a taping of “Face the State with Dennis House,” the former WWE CEO said she wouldn’t rule out a future run.     “I’m not taking anything off the table,” she said, declining to be specific.

We in the media love a good race, and this three way contest would have  journalists salivating:   Ted Kennedy, Junior for the Democrats;  McMahon for the Republicans; and Lieberman the independent.  

McMahon told me she wasn’t sure if Lieberman would seek a fifth term, and has heard about Kennedy as a potential candidate, and admits the Branford resident  would be formidable opponent.       It’s unclear if Kennedy would want to run, but if he did he might clear the field of Democrats.   State party chairwoman Nancy DiNardo once called Kennedy a “dream candidate” for ’12, and just today a well placed Democratic operative also suggested his name to me.   I wrote more in-depth about Kennedy and his prospects for 2012, earlier this year.  http://dennishouse.wordpress.com/2010/01/24/ted-kennedy-junior-in-12/

Kennedy and McMahon tangled briefly during the campaign, when Kennedy called on McMahon to stop using footage of his late uncle, President John Kennedy, in her commercials.

As for other candidates, most people expect Secretary of the State Susan Bysiewicz to run.    Despite the awful year she’s had, she remains very popular among Democrats.     Remember, back in January a Quinnipiac University poll showed Bysiewicz with a big  over Dan Malloy and Ned Lamont in the race for Governor.   In fact,  her strong showing in a 2009 Q.U.  poll, may have played a role in  Governor Rell’s decision not to see re-election.    That poll showed Bysiewicz just a handful of points behind the state’s most popular politician.  Dropping out of the race to run for Attorney General is undoubtedly the biggest mistake of campaign 2010. 

Other candidates for the senate could come from the congressional delegation.     Some expect Jim Himes to consider it, after his  strong re-election preceded by a CT Capitol Report poll predicting his defeat.   His opposition to Nancy Pelosi’s election as Minority Leader could make him more appealing to moderates and independents.      Himes’ appearance with President Obama at Harbor Yard this year could also earn him a nudge from the White House to run. 

Nobody will be surprised if Chris Murphy runs for the senate, he has hinted at it for some time.       Joe Courtney hasn’t hinted at it, but has just as much of a reason to run as Murphy, so who knows.   Murphy seems to be more ambitious than Himes and Courtney and I’m told by a Democratic insider that could translate into being a better campaigner, although that person also felt Himes has a better profile.

As for Republicans,  former Ambassador Tom Foley might want to run, maybe former Congressman Rob Simmons, and I’ve also heard of at least one member of the General Assembly eyeing Lieberman’s seat. 

As for McMahon, she told me she is analyzing  the results and will then make a decision on her future sometime next year.    “We are doing polling to see if we can identify which voting groups didn’t turn out.”      We also talked about her belief that the media cut Richard Blumenthal a pass:  “an Attorney General should be held to a higher standard.”  

Speaking of Blumenthal, I asked McMahon if she was disappointed when Senator Chris Dodd dropped out.  At the time polls showed her ahead of Dodd, and never again in the campaign would McMahon lead a poll.    “It would have been an easier race against Dodd, but I expected it would be Dick Blumenthal we would run against,” McMahon said.   

While McMahon was vague about her future, it is clear she is optimistic about her chances.  She did better than any Republican in a Connecticut senate race since Lowell Weicker, and got more votes than Lamont got in 2006, more than Lieberman, too.    McMahon also told me her campaign “energized” the Republican party, and points to her party’s gains in the General Assembly.   Hartford Courant columnist Kevin Rennie said McMahon has built up plenty of goodwill in the party, and that could aid her in ’12.

Look for McMahon in your living rooms next week in a new television spot thanking those who voted for her.   The ads will run Tuesday.  

See you Sunday morning at 11 for “Face the State” right here on WFSB Channel 3.

Malloy Supports Murphy’s “Buy American” Push
November 12, 2010

Congressman Chris Murphy’s push to buy American products may have an impact on spending by the state government.   During a taping of “Face the State” I asked Governor-elect Dan Malloy whether the state should be buying foreign cars for its fleet.     Malloy said “we should buy American.”  

That seems to signal that a change might be coming in the vehicles the state purchases for its fleet.  Right now the state has 325 Toyota  Prius models, a car that is manufactured in Tsutsumi, Japan.    

That’s about $7,000,000 of taxpayer money sent overseas.     No wonder why Murphy is  so emphatic about “Buy American. ”  By the way, the new Chevrolet Volt hitting the market now is made in Hamtramck, Michigan.   The Ford Escape hybrid, which the state also has in its fleet, is made in Missouri. 

Malloy Feels Construction Could Pull State out of Mess
November 11, 2010

“This state is a mess.”  That’s what Governor-elect Dan Malloy said during a taping of  “Face the State.”       Malloy said he will “tell the truth” about the budget, explaining that Governor Rell and state lawmakers were not up front with citizens about the crisis we now find ourselves in. 

Along with guest reporters Angela Dias of WTIC AM 1080 and Brian Lockhart of the Stamford Advocate we asked Malloy about how he plans to tackle the massive problems facing the state. 

We wanted to know about taxes, jobs, and whether Malloy wants any of his former opponents working for him in the new administration and whether any Rell appointees will keep their jobs.   We also asked what he thought about former Governor Rowland’s recent statement that a sure way out of the economic crisis is to jump start the economy by bonding and building.    Rowland’s tenure saw massive construction in New Haven, Storrs, Hartford and elsewhere.    Malloy said he hadn’t heard Rowland say that , but he does plan on spending on building and infrastructure, saying it has worked after the past 8 recessions and could work now. 

With Malloy taking a hiatus from wearing green ties, I decided I could wear one on Face.   I intentionally did not wear green on days Malloy was on the program so as not to give those conspiracy theory-minded viewers fodder for their e-mails that I was somehow showing solidarity with the Stamford Democrat.  

Don’t laugh.    You’d be surprised at what I get in my inbox.  If I wear red, someone thinks I am a Republican; blue, a Democrat.  If I sit next to Duby, someone writes I must be a Democrat.  Ask about Nancy Pelosi and I must be a Republican. 

I have to hand it to Governor-elect Malloy.  He has never turned down an invitation to come on our program.  For this past campaign he was on about a half dozen times dating back to 2008.   Late that year,  Malloy told me he would run for governor if Dick Blumenthal decided not to.   The rest is history.  To his credit, Republican Tom Foley also never declined an invite to come on Face.  The voters and viewers were well served by these two men who spent plenty of time on television talking about the issues.    I can’t think of another local race, either this year or in years past, in which the candidates were so accessible to the media. 

Here is Brian Lockhart’s take on the taping: http://blog.ctnews.com/politicalcapitol/2010/11/11/governor-elect-dan-malloy-faces-the-state/

Tune in this Sunday at 11AM

Apartments Coming to Constitution Plaza?
November 11, 2010

A source has told Eyewitness News a deal is in the works to convert the old Hotel America/Summit/Sonesta Clarion Hotel on Constitution Plaza into apartments, aimed at young professionals.   I’m told the long abandoned hotel is the subject of talks between the city and a developer, interested in the site because of it proximity to Adriaen’s Landing.

The hotel closed in the 1990s.

Cinema Grill to be First Front Street Tenant
November 9, 2010

As Eyewitness News reported yesterday, the first tenant in the Front Street entertainment district at Adriaen’s Landing will be a movie theater restaurant bar.    Late today Governor Rell announced the name:  Cinema Grill.    Here is the company’s website. http://www.cinemagrill.com/index.htm

Here is our post from yesterday:

http://dennishouse.wordpress.com/2010/11/08/front-street-on-verge-of-announcing-first-tenant/

Here is the release from the Governor’s office:

Governor M. Jodi Rell today announced that Cinema Grill, a combination movie theater and dining complex, has signed a lease and will be the first tenant for the Front Street development in Hartford. The company expects to open by mid-2011.

“This is a major step forward for our ongoing efforts to bring new vitality and new economic development to downtown Hartford,” Governor Rell said. “I am tremendously pleased to have the first tenant in place for Front Street – and to have that tenant be such an exciting attraction.”

Cinema Grill, which operates a number of locations in the Southeast and Midwest, offers patrons a chance to dine as well as watch a movie. The theater will occupy 22,500 square feet of the total 65,000 square feet available at Front Street, and will offer a state-of-the-art, multi-screen cinema, pub-style food and a full-service bar.

The theater will offer a diverse line-up of movies, ranging from mainstream pictures to independent and foreign films.

“Adding an attraction that combines dining and entertainment is a great way to ‘put feet on the street’ and create a buzz of activity in the Adriaen’s Landing District,” Governor Rell said. “I look forward to additional announcements with our development partner, HB Nitkin Group of Greenwich.”

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