Archive for December, 2011

Plugging the Brain Drain
December 29, 2011

Much has been said and written about the “brain drain” in our state, and the difficulty companies have in luring young people to move here.   Ask any recruiter, and he or she will tell you that Chicago, New York, Boston, and other cities are often more attractive to job candidates.    

This week on Face the State we get some input on how Connecticut can be made more desirable to young professionals.  Our panel is made up of three up-and-comers who have strong opinions on what should be done.    Julie Daly is the executive director of HYPE; Hartford Young Professionals and Entrepreneurs.   Earl O’Garro is the CEO of Hybrid Insurance Group, which just relocated its headquarters from the suburbs to downtown Hartford.    Gregg Gorneault is an academic advisor at UConn.  All three have seen their peers flock to more exciting locales, but the trio can also easily rattle off a litany of great things about life in Connecticut, while admitting improvements are needed. 

They all seem to agree that making Hartford a stronger, more vibrant  city is a top priority.    The regional feel of Metro Hartford requiring one to drive to one place for concerts and museums, and another town for stores, and another for something else can be a turnoff to some.    Other issues raised:   lowering the cost of living, more housing downtown, better public transportation to New York and Boston, and a major league sports team.

You can see their entire discussion this Sunday morning on Face the State at 11 o’clock on Channel 3.

Here is the link

Ex-Reporter Stinchfield: Unions a Problem in Connecticut
December 29, 2011


There is a widely held belief that all reporters are secretly liberal Democrats.   One of our guests this weekend on Face the State helps shatter that myth.   

Grant Stinchfield is a familiar face to some Connecticut television viewers as an award winning investigative reporter for WVIT at the beginning of this century.    From Hartford, he moved on to the NBC station in Dallas, and earlier this year left the television business to open his own business, and run for Congress (TX-24,) as a conservative Republican.   

Grant is an old friend, whom I know from covering the same stories, attending charity events, and frequenting the Newport summer scene, so  I invited him to come on Face the State when he was back in town for a visit.  His wife, former Miss Connecticut Amy Vanderoef, is a Bristol native who is now a host of Good Morning Texas on the ABC station in Dallas.    Here they are with their son, Wyatt.

During our taping, Grant talked about why he decided to give up television for politics, and about the difficulty he faced being a conservative in an industry often tagged “the liberal media.”  We talked about the bias so many media organizations are accused of having, and I can tell you his former employers will not like what he has to say Sunday morning.   

I also asked Grant what he believes are the reasons  the Texas economy is so much more robust than the Connecticut economy.   Why is their state growing, and ours remaining stagnant?   His answer:  unions.        “Texas is a right to work state so our job market is much more competitive.   Employers can make a deal with who they want to hire and you come to an agreement together instead of a union totally tying a company’s arm behind its back.”

In the small world department,  Grant may have picked up a vote as he walked through our newsroom.  He met Channel 3′s Tina Martin, whose brother happens to live in the district Grant hopes to represent in Washington. 

You can watch the entire interview with Grant Stinchfield this Sunday morning on Face the State with Dennis House, only on Channel 3.

                                           The Hartford St. Patrick’s Day parade, 2001

Senator Edith Prague Suffers Stroke
December 29, 2011

State Senator Edith Prague (D-Columbia) has suffered a stroke on Christmas night and is hospitalized.     Prague’s daughter, Shelly Prague,  told Eyewitness News her 86 year old mother will likely be under the care of doctors for some time.     The senator is speaking, but is “extremely weak.”

Prague’s daughter told me she there have been calls of concern from Governor Malloy and Lt. Governor Wyman.  Earlier I reported the two had visited Prague in the hospital, but that was an apparent miscommunication between Shelly Prague and me.   Senator Prague is not  accepting visitors and the family does not want the name of the hospital released.

Shelly Prague also said her mother has been working diligently since the end of the legislative session helping constituents.  Recently, when she learned that an elderly constituent was eating cat food because she not afford groceries, the senator made a pot roast and made sure the woman was enrolled in the meals on wheels program.

More on the story tonight on Channel 3 Eyewitness News

Face the State Flashback: Hartford Cathedral Fire of 1956
December 29, 2011

57 years ago this New Year’s Eve, a devastating fire in Hartford made headlines around the world.    The ornate Cathedral of St. Joseph, the mother church of the Archdiocese of Hartford, was destroyed by fire.  Shockingly, it happened the day after another fire nearly destroyed St. Patrick’s Church, now called St. Patrick-St. Anthony Church.

In 2011 Face the State showed you spectacular, rare film from the Channel 3 archives shot on December 31, 1956.    Channel 3 didn’t go on the air until September of 1957,  so the origin of the film is unknown.   We can tell you the film aired in 1962 as part of a special commemorating the consecration of the new cathedral, which opened on May 15, 1962.

The special was narrated by Ross Miller and features a report on the fire from Ed Anderson, who was live on the scene for WTIC radio, which back then was part of the Channel 3 family.     In Sunday’s flashback, you’ll see vintage clips of inside the cathedral before the fire, firefighters battling the stubborn blaze,  onlookers in shock, Archbishop Henry O’Brien talking to reporters, and the subsequent rebuilding.

Worshippers at a morning mass on New Year’s Eve ’56 smelled smoke, but firefighters couldn’t locate the fire right away.   By the time they did, the flames were out of control and destroyed the rare wood carvings inside the church.    Due to the fact it happened right after the St. Patrick’s fire, arson was suspected, but no one was ever charged.    Ed Anderson’s report talks about beefed up security by HPD at churches across the city.

You can watch the flashback right here:

UPDATE Here is the link to the video

and here is another report with reflections from Monsignor John McCarthy




King, Brzezinski or O’Reilly?
December 28, 2011


Based on your e-mails, retweets, and Facebook comments, viewers seem to love our Face the State Flashback segment, when we dig into the Channel 3 archives for  old political stories and ancient film of a bygone era in Connecticut television.  

For 2011, three of our most popular FTS flashbacks were devoted to three famous WFSB alumni:  Gayle King of CBS News, Mika Brzezinski of MSNBC,  and Bill O’Reilly of the Fox News Channel.    All three will play prominent roles in covering the 2012 presidential election, and as you watch them in the coming year, you can remember that they once worked at Channel 3 Eyewitness News. 

The clips and pictures of Gayle, Mika and Bill, were broadcast on Face the State, and after they aired on Channel 3, they were posted on my blog, “The Hartfordite.”  So which alum’s story was read the most in 2011?    You still have a few more days to choose your favorite by clicking his or her link, and I’ll post the results after the New Year!




Lieberman Talks Romney’s Religion, and 2012 Senate Race
December 23, 2011

Connecticut’s senior senator Joe Lieberman has been a guest on Face the State numerous times over the past 30 years as senator, and attorney general.   This Sunday he’ll be talking about his final year in office, the race to succeed him, and his new book.

The focus of the new book is his Jewish faith and his observance of the sabbath.    We talked about the Stamford independent has been able to balance his religious practices and his senate obligations.   As the first Jewish candidate on a major party presidential ticket in 2000, Lieberman was something of a trailblazer.   I asked him about Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, a Mormon, and whether his religion will be a factor in the race for White House.

As you may have heard, Lieberman talks about sex on sabbath in the new book, but we don’t address that this Sunday.  The senator will appear on Better Connecticut on January 3, and Channel 3′s Kara Sundlun handles that discussion.

During his Face the State taping, the always direct Lieberman also talked about the death of North Korea’s dictator Kim Jong Il,  and what he will miss most about the senate.

You can watch the entire interview right here that aired Sunday morning at 11 on Face the State, only on Channel 3.


Part 2.




also this Sunday, we look back at the end of the G. Fox era

Face the State Flashback: The G. Fox Era Comes to an End
December 21, 2011

Nostalgia for a lost Connecticut holiday tradition has been running high this year thanks to pictures making the rounds on Facebook and in the media promoting an upcoming program.    We’re talking about the legendary G. Fox department store in downtown Hartford.      It closed 19 years ago, and the name G. Fox faded into the history books.

This Sunday in our Face the State Flashback, we’ll go inside the store courtesy of the Channel 3 archives.   Dan Kain filed a fascinating report on September 11, 1992, the day May department stores announced it was closing the landmark, the last department store in downtown Hartford.    Dan’s report, part of a half hour special report by Eyewitness News on that dark day,  recalls the glory days of G. Fox, and we hear from then Senator Chris Dodd, who talked about what G. Fox meant to him.

We are also joined by Elizabeth Abbe, of the Connecticut Historical Society, who has researched G. Fox, and is an authority on the subject.

You can watch the entire flashback this Sunday morning at 11 on Face the State, only on Channel 3.  Due to the fact Sunday is Christmas Day, we are granting viewers a special dispensation to DVR the broadcast!

You can catch Abbe’s talk on G. Fox on January 10th.   Contact the Connecticut Historical Society for more information.

Oh, the Joys of the Family Christmas Card
December 20, 2011

My daughter is now at the age that she actually anticipates seeing the holiday cards that flood our mailbox this time of year.   She looks for pictures of her friends, cousins, and Santa Claus, but clearly has no idea what goes into producing these cards.   We parents certainly do, and it’s not always an easy process, like it used to be B.C.; before children.

                           The expectant parents smiling for the self timer in December 2006

It seemed easier for my parents.  I apparently willingly posed for this picture when i was 4.

Kara also appeared pretty agreeable at the same age.

Last year’s Christmas card shoot was frustrating, as I pointed out in my blog, posted below.   My son was 15 months old then, and had no interest in sitting still for a picture.  We had some unexpected occurences that delayed things, and before we knew it, mid-December was upon us.     Kara and I decided 2011 would be different, and we would take a nice family picture at the end of the summer.

Kara’s stepmother is a professional photographer in Rhode Island (Soozie Sundlun of and has taken some spectacular shots of our children over the course of their lives.  As you know, Kara’s dad died this summer, so plans for a family portrait on the beach were put on the back burner.   

Getting to Rhody this fall for a shoot was difficult,  with work commitments, weddings that Soozie was photographing, events, etc, and our efforts to have someone less qualified than Soozie to snap a family pic were futile.  One child was looking the other way, or it was blurry, or heads were cut off.    Suddenly it was December again.

A visit to Santa proved amusing, but I’m not sure this picture would have been a good Christmas card. 

Finally, help came in the form of the official Channel 3 photographer, Brian Ambrose of Glastonbury, ( who snapped the picture of me at the top of this blog and all of the publicity images of the Channel 3 team.    Just a few weeks ago, Brian shot some amazing shots of Kara, the kids and me, and got us the cards last week,  just in time. 

Now, time to start thinking about 2012…

                          The talented Brian Ambrose trying to take a picture of the kids.  Sometimes photographing animals at the zoo is easier.


last year:

My Saab Story
December 19, 2011

Picking up my new Saab in October, 1995.   That service sign was an omen.

The news that Saab is likely disappearing from the automotive landscape is devastating to the legions of enthusiasts who worship their quirky Swedish cars.   The company is falling into bankrupcty, and efforts to rescue it have been exhausted.   Here is an excerpt from a report in today’s New York Times, that pretty much sums it up.

“Despite a famously loyal base of customers, Saab has reported a profit only once in the past two decades, and the fact that all of the global automakers have passed it over suggests a different fate ahead. Analysts expect the company, which began selling cars in 1949, to be broken up and sold in bits. “

I was once part of that loyal base.     Back in the fall of 1995, I decided it was time to trade in my 1988 Pontiac Sunbird GT convertible.  I loved that car, but with 155,000 miles on the odometer, and a tear in the top that my mother repaired with industrial thread, it was time to part with a car that had been with me through television jobs in Illinois, Michigan, and now Connecticut.    I decided to “upgrade” to a Saab, a brand I had long coveted for its coolness and understated luxury.

Once at the dealership, I picked out a eucalyptus green Saab 900 convertible.   Like the thousands of Saabophiles, I loved that car, and experienced that feeling and attitude I had been told was unique to Saab owners.  The love affair with my car went on for about 3 years, even though deep down I acknowledged the Pontiac was probably the better car.  I didn’t like that the Saab didn’t have cup holders, and I wasn’t a fan of the ignition near the shifter which seemed to be nothing more than a receptacle for dust, crumbs, and spilled coffee.

It was about 60 thousand miles into owning the Saab, when my passion for the car began to turn to frustration and strong dislike.    Little things started to get wrong with it, and while they may been “little,” the bills to repair them were big.   Each problem seemed to cost about $700 to fix, although there were a few that topped a grand as I became a familiar fixture at the Hoffman Saab dealership in East Hartford.    I grew increasingly irritated at a car that I enthusiastically dumped my old Pontiac for.   The sticker price on my Pontiac was almost half that of the Saab, and had been approaching 160,000 miles with no major problems.  Zero.  Routine maintenance was all that “less prestigious” car ever needed.    My Saab situation had become an unhappy one, so much so it became a running joke among my friends.

During all of this spate of unreliability, the car was vandalized in a parking lot…the windshield smashed.   A few months later, it broke down on Route 9 in Higganum and had to be towed to Hoffman’s.    That was another costly repair.  Just a few days later, came the final straw.   The car wouldn’t start, had to be towed again, and the ignition, I mean crumb receptacle,  had to be replaced.   AAA was loving me that year.

I had sunk so much money into the car, I felt for a moment I should keep it, hoping its annus horribilis was over.  I ended up  trading in the Saab without hesitation or regret, never to buy another.     It was the worst car I ever owned.

Even so, I hate to see Saab go, while so many bland  nameplates without the rich Saab history remain in the marketplace.   I feel badly for the people who love their Saabs, like WNPR’s John Dankosky and Channel 3′s Dan Kain.    There are websites, forums, and fan groups.   Do you think people sit around and chat about the their Camrys like passionate Saab fans do?      Of course not.    The demise of Saab is also tough news for Sweden.  Saab was a source of pride for all of Scandanavia, and with Volvo now Chinese, it means the end of the Swedish automobile industry as we know it.

also read:

Santa, Skating, and 1,000,000 Lights
December 17, 2011

With just a week before Christmas, I highly recommend a trip to your capital city for the family.  

Make sure to check out the free skating rink at Bushnell Park, and visit with Santa Claus at the historic carousel.   Friends of mine were discouraged by the two hour wait for one of the mall Santas, so headed to Bushnell Park where their son saw Santa within minutes, and the picture was free.  Winterfest goes until the middle of February, so while Santa may head back to the North Pole, the rink will remain.    In the two hours some people waited at the mall, our kids sat on Santa’s lap, rode the carousel, skated and grabbed lunch at Vaughan’s. 

Also, don’t miss the  1 million lights at Holiday Light Fantasia at Goodwin Park.   $10 a car and all proceeds benefit the Channel 3 Kids Camp.


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 146 other followers