Archive for November, 2011

Greenberg: Esty Afraid to Stand Up to Speaker Donovan
November 29, 2011

Republican 5th district congressional candidate Mark Greenberg is responding with harsh words to his potential opponent’s appearance on Sunday’s Face the State.    Greenberg called Elizabeth Esty “afraid” in her answers to whether she feels House Speaker Christopher Donovan should recuse himself from the redistricting process.   Here is the release being sent out today. 


Statement by Mark Greenberg on Elizabeth Esty on “Face the State”

Elizabeth Esty’s refusal on Sunday’s edition of Face the State to call Chris Donovan’s conflict of interest on the Reapportionment Commission a “conflict” is the kind of political response we have all come to expect from career politicians like Esty.


Even when host Dennis House quoted a Harford Courant editorial calling Donovan “oblivious to the conflict of interest,” Esty maintained that recusing himself from the Commission should be “Donovan’s decision to make.”


Her refusal to call for Donovan to recuse himself strongly suggests someone who is afraid to take a stand against a member of her own party — even when Donovan is clearly in the wrong on this issue.  We do not need that kind of “go along, get along” wishy-washy politician in the United States Congress – in fact, the refusal of members of Congress to make principled stands is exactly what got our country in the mess it is in today.


Esty’s response also begs the question: does she believe that the district boundaries will ultimately benefit her if she wins the nomination?

With the pall of Chris Donovan’s conflict casting a dark shadow on the redistricting proceedings, a court-ordered resolution will likely be the only way voters can have confidence that the obviously gerrymandered 5th District hasn’t been stacked for political insiders like Donovan.”

Here is Sunday’s Face the State interview with Elizabeth Esty:

Esty Can Use Husband’s Name in Campaign
November 28, 2011

Congressional candidate Elizabeth Esty’s (D-Cheshire) use of a phone number in her husband’s name for her campaign does not violate any ethics rules,  according to the Connecticut Elections Enforcement Commission, and the Office of State Ethics.    Eyewitness News inquired about the telephone number, which is in the name of Esty’s husband, DEEP Commissioner Daniel Esty.  The number appears on Esty’s campaign website, and the commissioner’s name appears in the Caller ID on calls from the campaign.   

Elizabeth Esty was our guest on Face the State Sunday and was questioned about that, and other issues in  her race for CT-5.   Here is a link to to the interview:

Read also:

Elizabeth Esty Campaign Phone Number in Commissioner’s Name
November 24, 2011

Our first guest this weekend on Face the State is Elizabeth Esty, the former state representative from Cheshire, now running for the Democratic nomination for congress in the 5th district.    Esty has pretty much laid low since announcing her campaign early this year, but she’s been the subject of a decent amount of press coverage because of her husband, DEEP Commissioner Daniel Esty. 

The Hartford Courant’s Jon Lender questioned a conflict of interest due to contributions made by Northeast Utilities to Elizabeth Esty’s campaign.   As head of the DEEP, Daniel Esty oversees NU, and other utilities.    There were questions about whether NU contributed to the Esty campaign in an effort to curry favor with Commissioner Esty.   I asked Mrs. Esty about that issue and whether she would return the contributions.   You’ll hear her talk about that on Sunday.

I asked Esty about what kind of role her husband  plays in her campaign, and about something that raised eyebrows in the the Channel 3 newsroom.    The official telephone number for her campaign listed on her website, is in her husband’s name.   The Estys have two numbers listed at their home address in Cheshire, and this is one of them.   Whenever we received a call from Esty’s campaign, the caller ID appeared this way.

I asked Mrs. Esty about that, and she replied that although the phone is in her husband’s name, she pays the bill and she didn’t think calls from that number were a big deal.    At the time of taping, we were unable to determine whether this violates any state ethics rules.  Clearly, any potential donor to the Esty campaign who took a call made from that number was given a not so subtle reminder that the candidate is married to a very powerful man.    Are toll calls made from that number paid for by the campaign? 

During the taping we also talked about House Speaker Christopher Donovan, and why Esty believes she is the better candidate.   She was also questioned about her stance on whether she feels Donovan should step down from the committee redrawing the congressional districts.    

You can watch the entire interview this Sunday morning at 11 only on Face the State on Channel 3.

FOLLOW UP: Watch the interview with Elizabeth Esty here, and read about the ethics question (more…)

Should Catholic Church Play Role in Revitalizing Cities?
November 24, 2011

In this very Catholic state of ours the Catholic church plays a huge role in daily Connecticut life.    The Catholic church has hundreds of parishes, dozens of schools, and a charitable organization that helps thousands of people. 

This week on Face the State we are joined by Lois Nesci,  the new director of Catholic Charities, who is here to talk about the role of the organization.    Of course, its primary goal is to help the less fortunate. 

I’m Catholic, in fact I taught CCD one year when I was in parochial high school.   I’m all for the church helping the poor, but like many people, I often question  how they go about doing it.

There are times I think the church is perpetuating poverty.   For example, the relatively new Cathedral Green project in Hartford undertaken by the Catholic church, was somewhat controversial when it began.   The church wanted to turn the old Cathedral school into supportive housing for low income people.  The city, and columnists felt it should be market rate housing, to help improve the neighborhood.  The school, in the shadow of the Cathedral of St. Joseph, could have been sold for top dollar to a developer.   The church went ahead with its plan.

I’ve often wondered why the church doesn’t build this supporting housing on the acres of land it owns in the suburbs, to give folks a chance at better schools, and in many cases, to live in a safer neighborhood.    You can probably buy crack a few blocks from Cathedral Green;  I doubt you could do the same near a church in Avon.  

The parochial school closings due to declining enrollment nearly always take place in the cities.  Ditto for parish closings.   It seems the me,  the church should play a role in improving these neighborhoods to bring in more money to the parishes which would allow them thrive and provide the resources to help more people.    The city churches desperately need middle to upper income parishioners to fill their collection baskets, to the replace the countless parishioners who moved to suburbia when their neighborhoods began to slide into decline .   

I asked Nesci about this and you can watch the entire interview this Sunday morning at 11 on Face the State, only on Channel 3.

By the way, the above picture is yours truly after receiving his First Holy Communion at St. Catherine of Siena Church, Norwood, Massachusetts.

UPDATE:  Here is the interview that aired Sunday

Attorney Joins Senate Race with Attacks on McMahon and Shays
November 24, 2011

The Republican field in the Senate race has grown by one.   Thomaston attorney and Marine Corps reservist Kie Westby has entered the race, announcing his plans during a taping of “Face the State,”  set to air this Sunday.   Westby has never held elective office, but has run for Congress and Attorney General. 

Westby joins Brian K. Hill, Jason McCoy, Linda McMahon and Chris Shays in the hunt for the GOP nomination for the seat held by Joe Lieberman.   During the taping he took a swipe at McMahon and Shays, citing them for the reason he decided to run. 

“Linda McMahon has shown that her high expenditures really don’t lead to victory people prefer principle over her pomp  Chris Shays is known as a vascillating moderate.”

Westby also had criticism for Democrats Chris Murphy and Susan Bysiewicz, and questioned Senator Richard Blumenthal’s “conspicuous silence” regarding the situation with Attorney General Eric Holder.  Westby thinks Holder should resign.

You can watch the entire interview that aired on Face the State Sunday  right here:

Face the State Flashback: the Busway Proposal of ’74
November 22, 2011

When I first moved to Connecticut, I was told the land of steady habits has two speeds:  slow and stop.   In another words, nothing gets done quickly.    At this week’s official announcement of the controversial Hartford New Britain busway, much was made of the fact that the project was in the works since the early 1990s.    But did you know, that talk of a busway into your capital city began nearly 40 years ago?

In this week’s Face the State Flashback from the Channel 3 archives, we have  a report on an Eyewitness News special report called the “Road to Nowhere,” from May of 1974.  It was lengthy and the old film is of poor quality.  The reporter?  Brad Davis.   He studied a proposal to put a busway over abandoned railroad tracks to carry commuters into Hartford.  Sound familiar?  

The busway was controversial then, and many of the same arguments heard in 2011 were made in 1974; mainly that it was too costly, and people preferred light rail.   

In 1974,  Connecticut was growing, and many women were joining the workforce, and as a result, many households were becoming two car families.  People were starting to complain about the price of gas, traffic congestion and pollution and so Eyewitness News took a closer look at mass transit.   On Sunday, you’ll be amazed at the prices of gas and parking and the vintage film of traffic and Hartford.

The busway is finally coming to fruition, and regardless of how you feel about it, it is no one’s interests for this to fail.  Personally, I’m envisioning 2017 when the busway buses are full of people heading downtown  to catch a Hartford Whalers game.   

Here is the link to the segment that aired Sunday:

A Thanksgiving Lesson from Legendary Bob Steele
November 22, 2011

 It’s that time of year for turkey, football, family, and a song, that many of us think we know.  It starts with “Over the river.”    I learned the proper verbiage for this tune thanks to my co-anchor Denise D’Ascenzo who learned it from the legendary voice of  Bob Steele of WTIC AM 1080 and Channel 3, shown here in  our studios in the 1960s.*     

It was 1986, and Denise was anchoring her first day before Thanksgiving broadcast at Channel 3 after moving here from Cleveland.   She recalls writing and reading a script about holiday travel that went something like this:

                  “By car, by train, by plane, people all over Connecticut are going over the river and through the woods”

As soon as the newscast was over Denise received an urgent call from a man she had never met.   When he said “Denise,” she said it sounded like the voice of God. 

 “This is Bob Steele from WTIC radio, I’d like to point out a mistake you made in your news copy.  It is not through the woods, but rather through the wood.  No “s.”    I wanted you to get it right.  You are new around here.” 

We thank Bob for the lesson, although Denise was at first taken aback by this call.   It’s an easy mistake to make.  People sing it the wrong way all the time…just check out you tube.   Besides, “through the wood,”  who talks like that?

The song is from a poem written by Lydia Maria Child in 1844.     Here it is, as Bob Steele would read it.

Over the river, and through the wood,
To Grandfather’s house we go;
The horse knows the way to carry the sleigh
through the white and drifted snow.
Over the river, and through the wood,
To Grandfather’s house away!
We would not stop for doll or top,
For this is Thanksgiving Day.
Over the river, and through the wood—
Oh, how the wind does blow!
It stings the toes and bites the nose
As over the ground we go.
Over the river, and through the wood,
With a clear blue winter sky,
The dogs do bark, and children hark,
As we go jingling by.
Over the river, and through the wood,
To have a first-rate play.
Hear the bells ring, “Ting-a-ling-ding”,
Hurrah for Thanksgiving Day!
Over the river, and through the wood,
No matter for winds that blow,
Or if we get the sleigh upset
Into a bank of snow
Over the river, and through the wood,
To see little John and Ann.
We will kiss them all, and play snow-ball,
And stay as long as we can.
Over the river, and through the wood
Trot fast, my dapple-gray!
Spring over the ground like a hunting-hound,
For this is Thanksgiving Day.
Over the river, and through the wood—
And straight through the barnyard gate,
We seem to go extremely slow,
It is so hard to wait!
Over the river, and through the wood,
Old Jowler hears our bells.
He shakes his pow, with a loud bow-wow,
And thus the news he tells.
Over the river, and through the wood,
When Grandmother sees us come,
She will say, “Oh, dear, the children are here,
Bring a pie for everyone.”
Over the river, and through the wood—
Now Grandmother’s cap I spy!
Hurrah for the fun! Is the pudding done?
Hurrah for the pumpkin pie!

*Channel 3′s call letters used to be WTIC, from our inception in 1957 to 1974, when we became WFSB and split with the radio side of the company.   AM 1080 remained WTIC.

What I’ll be doing on Thanksgiving:

Meek Lays Out Strategy in CT-4
November 18, 2011

Two years ago, Republicans hoped to use President Obama against Congressman Jim Himes in his battle for re-election in CT-4.    Near the end of the campaign, the President came to Bridgeport, and it helped push Himes over the top.

This year, the economy is still in trouble, and President Obama’s approval rating in Connecticut is down considerably from the 2010 campaign.   Question is, will Republicans try to link Himes to an unpopular president?   

This Sunday on Face the State, we meet the second Republican to jump in the race for CT-4, financial executive Chris Meek.     Meek laid out his strategy for trying to persuade voters to dump the two-term Democrat,  and we asked him about whether he will try to tie the President’s problems to Himes. 

Meeks  also talked about a conversation he had with the last Republican to hold the seat, Chris Shays.

You can watch the entire interview, this Sunday morning at 11, only on Channel 3.

UPDATE:  Here is the interview with Chris Meek

UConn Economist: “Renovated XL Center is Vital to Economy”
November 17, 2011

As the weather grew colder this week, the buzz was hot about a dream many people across Connecticut have:  to see the NHL return to their capital city.    Fueling the excitement was a new plan presented Tuesday, to overhaul the aging XL Center and transform it into a sports and entertainment mecca.

Former Hartford Whalers owner Howard Baldwin  unveiled these renderings along with hopes a major league hockey would return to the XL Center in 2017.   The sketches show a drastically different arena, with stores, restaurants, a TV studio, better seating, luxury boxes and the list goes on.   The plan also calls for a block of Trumbull Street to be closed to vehicular traffic.

These renderings aren’t just based on Baldwin’s dream.    They are backed by a study paid for by Aetna, and conducted by the Connecticut Center for Economic Analysis at UConn.    The study found for $105 million dollars, the plan would be huge boost to the city, region and state.      Why would Aetna do this?   It is hard to recruit employees who might also be considering jobs in Boston, New York, or Chicago.    


This Sunday on Face the State we will hear from one of the people who worked on that study, economist Fred Carstensen.   During the taping Carstensen talked about the need for spending money on this, and where the money could come from.    He also talks about the appeal of the Hartford economy, and when he says Hartford he refers to the city and its many suburbs.   In addition, Carstensen talked about the benefits of the new bio-science research center in Farmington, and how a revitalized XL Center would be another wise investment.    It was a fascinating conversation that is must see for any fan of our state, region and capital city, not to mention a fan of UConn  basketball and the Hartford Whalers.  

UPDATE:  Here is the interview that aired Sunday on Face the State:

Gayle King at WFSB: The Hartford Years
November 15, 2011

Today my former co-anchor Gayle King debuted on the brand new “CBS This Morning,” joining PBS host Charlie Rose, and shoreline native Erica Hill, who grew up in Clinton.     Even though it has been a dozen years since Gayle left the big 3,  she remains in the hearts of  many of us here, and definitely in the hearts of viewers across our state.    She clearly qualifies as a Connecticut television icon, although Gayle winced when I called her that once.  

In fact, after Gayle left to work as editor-at-large at O Magazine, Channel 3 viewers missed her so much I was sent to Manhattan to interview her.   Sitting in her office across the street from the Ed Sullivan Theater, Gayle told me Hartford will always be a part of her.

               “Without sounding sappy, I became a woman, I grew up at Channel 3.  I fell in love at Channel 3, I got married at Channel 3, I had children at Channel 3, and I got divorced at Channel 3.”

Now that Gayle has made it big time, it’s time to look back at where she came from.    We’ve hauled out some old video out of the dusty archives from her years as a cub reporter at WFSB.    We gave fellow WFSB alumni Mika Brzezinski and Bill O’Reilly their nostalgic trips down the Hartford Memory Lane earlier this year, and it still amazes me how many people still go to my blog every day to see pictures of vintage Mika and vintage Bill.

Sadly, a while back, some managers who are now former managers,  ordered the disposal of dozens, perhaps scores,  of old videotapes.  As a result of their short-sighted housecleaning,  Gayle’s first story here at WFSB in the fall of 1981, no longer exists in our archives,  along with many of her reports from 1981 to 1985, everything from festivals, to shootings, to fires, the standard fare for newbies.     Thankfully, a few reports from that era did survive.  They are in an old 3/4″ tape format that must be played in a rickety old relic of a machine.   The quality is grainy, at best.

Anyway, Gayle worked at WFSB from 1981 to 1999.   Most of the stuff from the 90s appears from time to time during our anniversary specials, but the really old stuff has not been seen, well, since it aired.

This the oldest image I’ve been able to find of Gayle’s tenure at WFSB.   It is from a weekend edition of Eyewitness News taken in our studio in the since demolished Broadcast House sometime in late 1981.   

This next image here is from the summer of ’82, when Gayle interviewed a boy who found a $10,000 lottery ticket in the trash.    I’m not sure if she was moonlighting as a flight attendant for Air Lingus, or as a spokesperson for National Car Rental.

The new CBS This Morning will be heavy on politics, and with the 2012 election getting into high gear, the timing couldn’t be better.   Gayle’s new boss is Chris Licht, a native of Newtown, and the former executive producer of “Morning Joe” on MSNBC, who will try to bring that successful formula to CBS.     Gayle will no doubt be grilling candidates, politicians, and pundits.

Gayle actually did some political reporting during her time here.   According to the archives, Gayle was out in the field on election night in 1981 and 1982, and interviewed Senators Weicker, Lieberman and Dodd over the years, along with mayors and members of congress.  In 1988, she anchored our coverage of the Democratic National Convention in Atlanta.  

As Democrats chose Michael Dukakis to be their nominee, Gayle showed off her sneakers she wore to climb the stairs of the Omni, to avoid tripping in her trademark heels.  

To me though, and I’m hardly a fashion expert, it seems that scarf might have been a bit of a tripping hazard.  

I know many people see Gayle as Oprah’s best friend, but  during our nearly five years of sharing the anchor desk, and sitting at the same pod in the newsroom, I saw her in a much different role.   First, she’s a real news junkie.   After Gayle left for O Magazine, she called me during the Michael Skakel trial looking for information and it wasn’t unusual to get an e-mail from her seeking information about something in the news.  She told me it was during the big stories like that, and 9/11, when she really missed the news biz.   More recently, I was a guest on Gayle’s radio show being questioned by her about news stories from Connecticut that made national headlines.  

Gayle  also has a great sense of humor, which will serve her well on the Early Show.    I’ll never forget having to read a report of a man who was suing a stripper, because she hurt his neck with her breasts during his bachelor party.  Apparently, the whiplash was so bad, he was going to miss his nuptials.  Gayle started to laugh so hard, I could not finish reading the story.    There are countless other television moments  like that.

The most important thing I can say about Gayle is that she is a great mother.   She brought her daughter and son to school before she started her work day, and like any suburban mom, shuttled them back and forth to school events and practices.   I remember a few times she brought Kirby and William to work, and they sat at a couple of desks and did their homework with help from mom if they needed it.     Another time she told me how William no longer wanted to seat in back seat of the car, as was required by Connecticut law for someone his age.    Gayle explained he would be sitting there until he turned 11, or whatever the legal age was for a child to sit in the front seat. 

As for Gayle’s new co-anchors at CBS,  Charlie Rose, and Clinton native Erica Hill,   I think they”ll find Gayle easy to work with.     There was never any tension on the set, and she made me feel right at home when I was named as her co-anchor.    She instantly called me her “television husband,”   and gave me the nickname “Denzel.”  In a  profile of our newscast in a local newspaper, Gayle talked about her philosophy (which I share) that co-anchors should be partners.    

               “Some teams quibble about who gets to lead the newscast and who gets to read the most stories,” King said.   “I don’t keep track and I don’t care.”       

I think Gayle is going to do just fine at CBS.    She’s one of the nicest people in the biz and I wish her the best at Studio 57.           

Here is the clip that aired on Sunday on Face the State:

See also:

Mika Brzezinski at WFSB

Bill O’Reilly at WFSB

also read:


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