Archive for January, 2012

Almost 20 Years at WFSB, How is that possible?
January 31, 2012

A viewer wrote to me “reminding” me that I started at WFSB in 1992, and that would mean I’ve been here at Channel 3 for 20 years!   Hold on…not yet.    I was a sophomore in  high school when I first walked into Broadcast House on August 31, 1992.   Lol.

 Stay tuned.  Through out this year until the anniversary arrives, with Denise’s help of course, we’ll bring you some of my memorable moments of the past two decades.

That picture above was from my first report on September 3, 1992.     The first few days I spent doing paperwork, learning the computer (yes, we had them back then) and finding the way to the bathroom. 

By the way, I still have that yellow raincoat.

Oz is in the House
January 27, 2012

After our interview with East Haven Mayor Joe Maturo this Sunday on Face the State we are joined by Oz Griebel, the former candidate for governor and president of the Metro Hartford Alliance.    Oz is one of those guests who seems to know everybody and the staff here loves when he comes in.  Might be the name.

When Denise asked me who was coming in for Face the State, I replied “Oz,” and she said “the great and powerful?”   She loves that line from  the Wizard of Oz.

Anyway, Griebel is here to talk to about the governor’s new plan for Hartford and its suburbs, the XL center and more.

Tune in this Sunday morning at 11 for Face the State.

Here is the interview:  http://www.wfsb.com/video?autoStart=true&topVideoCatNo=default&clipId=6684545

Face the State Flashback: Dodd Endorses Lieberman, but…
January 26, 2012

The race for the U.S. senate in Connecticut in 1988 was the last time an incumbent senator in our state was defeated in an a re-election bid.   Attorney General Joe Lieberman was challenging Senator Lowell Weicker and we all know how it turned out.

Early in the campaign Senator Chris Dodd endorsed his fellow Democrat, but refused to criticize Senator Weicker, who  won that senate seat in 1970 by beating Dodd’s father, Thomas.   In this Sunday’s Face the State flashback we’ll take at look at that dynamic in the race, reported by then Channel 3 reporter John Daly on January 26, 1988.

Tune in this Sunday morning at 11 for Face the State, only on Channel 3.  By the way, John Daly is now with New England Cable News.

UPDATE:  Here is the link to the segment  http://www.wfsb.com/video?autoStart=true&topVideoCatNo=default&clipId=6684549

Also check out some of our other Flashback segments: 

http://dennishouse.wordpress.com/2011/12/29/face-the-state-flashback-hartford-cathedral-fire-of-1956/

http://dennishouse.wordpress.com/2011/02/24/bill-oreilly-the-lost-wfsb-tapes/

http://dennishouse.wordpress.com/2011/10/27/flashback-the-connecticut-rams/

http://dennishouse.wordpress.com/2011/09/16/face-the-state-flashback-jfk-visits-ct-during-cuban-missile-crisis/

East Haven Mayor: Media Hurts Town by Airing Taco Comment
January 26, 2012

Embattled East Haven Mayor Joe Maturo says it is time to move on from his taco comment that made headlines across the country.    During  a taping of Face the State with Dennis House on WFSB, Maturo said  acknowledged what he said was a mistake, but said he had obligation to the town and would not resign.

“I was voted in for my 11th year.  I have an obligation as the leader of our community to do what is right for our community.”

 “I’m going to be a better leader and we are going to heal.   We are going to make East Haven a great place to live.”

Maturo agreed to come on Face the State Thursday morning morning and arrived at our suburban Hartford studios here as an immigration group was delivering 500 tacos to his office.    He was followed to WFSB by WPIX reporter Mario Diaz, who was interviewing Maturo when the mayor made the infamous taco comment earlier this week.     Maturo told me it is time to move on, and when the media continues to air the video of the comment, it hurts the town.

Maturo also talked about the arrest of four police officers, about the culture of racism in East haven that has been alleged, and whether he has ever witnessed racism in town.

It is clear the stress Maturo has been under.  As soon as the interview was over, it seemed like a huge weight had been lifted from his shoulders. 

Here is the interview that aired on WFSB-TV  Sunday morning, January 29, 2012  http://www.wfsb.com/video?autoStart=true&topVideoCatNo=default&clipId=6684542

What Hartford Might Have Been
January 24, 2012

When I first moved to Connecticut in 1992, I was given this poster and told this is what Hartford would like in 1995.    I recently found it in a box and it is actually kind of sad to look at.   There were no fewer than eight skyscrapers on the drawing board then, including one that promised to be the tallest in New England.    It’s amazing how different our capital city would be had all these buildings been built.  Instead, most of the sites remain vacant lots two decades later.

Remarkably a few of the towers would have been taller than anything in today’s skyline.    The Cutter Financial Center would have stood 61 stories tall, higher than the John Hancock Tower in Boston.  The renderings were impressive:  a gleaming skycraper topped with a gold dome, a nod to Hartford’s colonial roots.    Financial problems killed the project, as did the other proposals.     It would have gone up near Bushnell Park between Lewis and Trumbull Streets, where an apartment building went up in 2005.    111 Pearl Street would have been torn down as part of this project.   It still stands, but it has been abandoned for 20 years.

While the demise of all of these projects was certaintly disappointing, none angered people more than the Society Bank Tower project.    Preservationists fought hard and loudly to save Hartford’s first skyscraper, the old Aetna building at Main and Asylum.   Society Bank won the battle, and had the building imploded to make way for a 45 story high rise.    It was never built, and 22 years later, the site remains vacant.  A piece of Connecticut history was demolished for nothing.

Did you know that a World Trade Center was proposed for Hartford?  It was an interesting design with a globe at the top.      That 33 story project would have gone up on a prime piece of real estate, across from the State Capitol adjacent to the e the Statler Hilton.  The WTC was never built and the Hilton was demolished.    That lot also remains vacant to this day.

Around the corner this 42 story tower was proposed for Allyn Street.

The Metro Center II would have been 50 stories tall, diagonally across across from the Hartford Civic Center at Church and Ann Uccello Streets across from St. Patrick Anthony Church.   That site is a barren parking lot today and has become an occasional crime scene after dark.

This tower would have gone up next to the G. Fox building.    That site is a vacant lot today.

As you can see from this poster, there were other projects that never got off the ground.     Certainly, some progress was made since this drawing was made:  Adriaen’s Landing,  Hartford 21, and the riverfront.        Let’s hope 2012 brings some new ideas for these long vacant parcels.  They don’t have to be as grand as the ones proposed in the big  ’80s, but something would be better than the status quo.

I’m not sure what this is, but it appears to be  a convention center just north of I-84.   Also check out www.emporis.com  for some great information about Hartford buildings.

Also read these two related posts on downtown development :  http://dennishouse.wordpress.com/2011/03/31/city-should-seek-ideas-for-prime-parcel/

and:  http://dennishouse.wordpress.com/2010/10/27/happy-anniversary-parking-lot/

plus:  http://dennishouse.wordpress.com/2011/01/14/downtown-skyscraper-to-be-mothballed/

also related:  http://dennishouse.wordpress.com/2011/12/15/face-the-state-flashback-the-implosions-of-2001/

Starbucks to Malloy: Get your java in the suburbs
January 23, 2012

Starbucks has responded to Governor Malloy’s comment about its downtown Hartford store being closed on weekends.    During an interview on the January 15th edition of Face the State, the governor was talking about how to improve the capital city and cited Starbucks as a problem.   “Starbucks isn’t open on the weekends.  That is a gigantic mistake for Starbucks I don’t think they realize how many people are living there.”   

A member of the Eyewitness News staff obtained this statement from the Seattle-based coffee giant in response to the governor’s statement:  

We are committed to supporting the Hartford community and have been open in the past on weekends as well as open to support special events, parades and marathons downtown. We will continue to review opportunities to be open outside of our standard hours to best support our customers and business. Wethersfield and three other stores in West Hartford are open over the weekend to serve our customers in these communities.

Many of our viewers pointed out that the governor has two independent coffee shops to choose from downtown:   JoJo’s on Pratt Street, and La Paloma Sabanera on Capitol Avenue near the state capitol.    There are also five or six Dunkin Donuts downtown, and a Starbucks inside the Marriott at Adriaen’s Landing, but the Starbucks in the heart of downtown will continue to focus on  the Monday through Friday 9-5ers.   

Here is the interview with Governor Malloy from January 15th:

http://dennishouse.wordpress.com/2012/01/15/governor-calls-for-new-housing-in-downtown-hartford-and-a-full-service-starbucks/

2012 Hartford Mayoral Ball
January 22, 2012

Kara and I were honored to be emcees for the Hartford Mayoral Ball, celebrating the inauguration of Mayor Pedro Segarra.  It was a sellout crowd of about 900 people from all over the state and beyond at the Connecticut Convention Center at Adriaen’s Landing. 

On an historical note, Mayor Segarra was accompanied by his husband, Charlie Ortiz.   We’re told Segarra is the first legally married gay mayor in the United States.

The mood was upbeat as people looked forward to a big change in attitude at city hall.     Mayor Segarra was telling attendees about his pro-business stance and urging people to invest in Hartford.  My brother-in-law Stuart Sundlun, who works in private equity in Manhattan, came in to learn more about the capital city and investment possibilities.     Developers, commercial property owners, and mom and pop merchants at the ball all seemed to be in agreement that the Segarra administration is the beginning of a new era.   “Come build something downtown,” the mayor said, an obvious reference to the copious vacant acreage and empty buildings that are a long overdue for a new purpose.

Lt.  Governor Nancy Wyman was there, as governor because Governor Malloy is out of state, and she was joined by other dignitaries, members of HPD and HFD and civic leaders.   

The WFSB table included my news director, Dana Neves, Hartford bureau chief Len Besthoff, reporter Jill Konopka, and photographers Brian Elba and Mike Kopelman. 

WDRC’s (and Channel 3 alum) Brad Davis and HFD Captain Terry Waller

West Hartford Mayor Scott Slifka and Erik Szyluk

WFSB’s Dana Neves, Len Besthoff and Mike Kopelman

MaryEllen Fillo of the Hartford Courant

Arnold and Nadine West

Kara Sundlun, yours truly and India Liddell

Kara Sundlun and Ashley Szyluk

Brian Elba and Jill Konopka

Shawn Wooden

Steve Bonafonte

Erik Szyluk and Stuart Sundlun

John Bazzano and Al Marotta

Mayor’s picture courtesy of the Hartford Courant.  The courant also has more ball pictures here:  http://www.courant.com/news/connecticut/hc-pictures-mayor-pedro-segarras-inaugural-ball-20120121,0,5773582.photogallery

The Complicated Case of Red Light Cameras
January 20, 2012

Police can’t be everywhere and that is one of the arguments behind a proposal to put cameras at red lights.   Under the plan, as person runs a red light, his or her license plate would be simultaneously photographed and that offender would later get a ticket in the mail.  The hope is, the fear of being caught on camera would be a deterrent to people who speed through red lights, while making the roads safer.  Sounds simple, right?

Not so fast.   There are several issues when it comes to red light cameras, and that’s why the proposal has failed at the state capitol before.

1.      Why couldn’t the cameras be used to catch another crime being committed? 

2.       What if the owner of the car isn’t driving?

3.      Isn’t it an invasion or privacy?

This Sunday on Face the State we’ll talk with State Representative Tony Guerrera, Chariman of Transportation Committee, about the pros and cons of such a measure.   We’ll also talk with New Haven Alderman Doug Hausladen, who is fighting for the cameras for his city.

You can watch the entire interview this Sunday morning at 11 on Face the State only on Channel 3.     Here is the video of the interviewhttp://www.wfsb.com/video?autoStart=true&topVideoCatNo=default&clipId=6658691

Former Obama Student Hoping Tong Fever Spreads
January 20, 2012

The field in this year’s Connecticut senate race is one of the biggest in decades, perhaps ever.    With an open seat, and no annointed successor to the nomination like we had in 2010 with Richard Blumenthal, the race has attracted several candidates.    This weekend on Face the State we are joined by one them, Democrat William Tong, state representative from Stamford.

Tong was a familiar face to viewers before he announced his candidacy in May on Face the State, a venue we welcome candidates to choose as the launching pad for their campaigns.   The son of Chinese immigrants was a representative for President Obama  appearing on Mr. Obama’s behalf here in our state during the 2008 presidential campaign.    Tong was a student of then Professor Obama at the University of Chicago in the 1990s. 

During our taping for Face the State this week, I asked Representative Tong about his strategy to defeat fellow Democrats Susan Bysiewicz and Chris Murphy in the battle for the nomination.   He lags behind the two in fundraising and endorsements, but argues he is a different kind of candidate with a compelling personal story of the living the American dream.   

Tong also talked about how he would vote on some issues, his call for debates with Bysiewicz and Murphy( so far one is scheduled, but there will undoubtedly be more,) and his friendship with Governor Malloy.  

Also on Sunday, look for Tong to make reference to “Tong Fever,”  courtesy of a whimsical Hartford Courant map that appeared in the paper last year.

You can watch the entire interview with Representative Tong this Sunday morning at 11, only on Channel 3.   UPDATE:  here is the interview that aired Sunday  http://www.wfsb.com/video?autoStart=true&topVideoCatNo=default&clipId=6658686

Face the State Flashback: the Jai Alai Scandal of the late ’70s
January 19, 2012

It was a big news week 35 years ago this January.   While the collapse of the Hartford Civic Center on January 18, 1978 was grabbing the headlines, a  scandal  brewing in the world of Jai Alai was also dominating the evening news that week.   Jai Alai is a sport played with a long, curved wicker basket worn on a player’s wrist.   It was a big deal in Connecticut until the casinos came along in the 1990s and put the industry out of business, at least in our state.

Spectactors could bet on the players and in 1976 a whiff of scandal came to light.   Some players were accused of being paid to lose.  The state launched an investigation into these allegations and on Sunday, January 19th, 2012, in our Face the State flashback, we broadcast some vintage video of Al Terzi reporting on it. 

Here are some shots of Al staking out the key witness in the case  in a snow covered parking lot of AMC Gremlins and Ford Pintos.

By the way, that orange and yellow 3 logo is about cool as the harvest gold telephone my parents had in our kitchen.  UPDATE:  Here is the link to the segment http://www.wfsb.com/video?autoStart=true&topVideoCatNo=default&clipId=6658698

Also readhttp://dennishouse.wordpress.com/2009/11/17/530/

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