Archive for April, 2012

McEnroe and Pesci on the Senate Debates
April 27, 2012

Now that the pre-convention senate debates are behind us, were there any winners?   Losers?  What about the lesser known candidates?

This Sunday on Face the State we were joined by two veteran Connecticut politicos who know their stuff.  WNPR’s Colin McEnroe and columnist Don Pesci  shared their views on the debates and the senate race.

Here is the segment with McEnroe and Pesci

Also this Sunday, our exclusive interview with Lowell Weicker

Weicker: One Party Rule to Blame for State’s Fiscal Mess, GOP Irrelevant
April 27, 2012

The Republicans have lost nine U.S. senate elections in a row in Connecticut.   This week on Face the State were  joined by the last Republican to win a senate seat,  Lowell Weicker.    

Weicker, who turns 81 next month,  delivered a blunt assessment of the Connecticut Republican party:  they are irrelevant.    However, due to the irrelevance of the state GOP, according to Weicker, the Democrats are solely to blame for the financial mess our state is in.

“There is no reason why the state of Connecticut should be in the fiscal condition that  it is in.  It is there, literally, because we have a one party state.  The Republicans have become irrelevant to the constituency which is Connecticut.” 

Weicker, a Republican who later turned independent and was elected governor, stressed his support for President Obama,  but suggested the President may be the only Democrat he supports this year.   “I want to do everything I can to see the Republicans succeed in the legislature, the house and senate, maybe some of the other races.”

Weicker also talked about his career, Governor Malloy,  the senate candidates and the debates.   He was very impressed by Brian K. Hill and Hill’s call that the GOP spend some time in the cities.     Hill also got a shout out on Face the State during our analysis segment with Don Pesci and Colin McEnroe.

You can watch the entire interview with Lowell Weicker, right here:

Weicker is also the subject of this week’s Face the State Flashback.  :

Also read:

Weicker’s First Year as Governor:

Face the State Flashback: Weicker Flirts with White House Run
April 27, 2012

Chris Dodd ran for president, so did Joe Lieberman.    Prescott Bush’s name was tossed around as a potential presidential candidate, so was Brien McMahon’s.    Senators from Connecticut are no strangers to White House ambitions, and Lowell Weicker was no exception.

In the early 1970s, Connecticut’s freshman senator became nationally known for his role on the Senate Watergate Committee.   Weicker, who was elected in 1970 with the help of President Richard Nixon,  later became a key figure in Nixon’s downfall.   

In this week’s Face the State flashback,  we have a report from the Channel 3 archives from May 1977, when Weicker was traveling the country amid speculation  he was considering a run for president in 1980.    Our report is from a  Channel 3 reporter named Chris Gordon,  who in this ancient, grainy video, seems to bear a resemblance to Ron Burgundy!     Gordon sports a snazzy leisure suit in his interview with Senator Weicker.  After all,  it was the disco era and apparently television reporters were also swept up in the fashion of the day.      Gordon now works for WRC-TV in Washington, D.C.

In the interview, Weicker talks about the state of the Republican party and the need for a moderate candidate.  He also talks to Gordon about President Nixon, who in 1977 was just starting to reappear on the public scene and had made some controversial comments about presidents being above the law.    The flashback is classic Lowell Weicker.

Meanwhile,  we were joined this Sunday by the present day Lowell Weicker, who has come out of retirement to talk about the current batch of senate candidates, the Connecticut GOP, and Governor Malloy.

You can watch the entire flashback right here:

 Here is our Weicker interview

The Gun Question
April 26, 2012

During the WFSB Face the State  senate debates, we asked the candidates if they owned a gun.   Only one candidate does.    Here is how they responded.

Bysiewicz         No

Hill                     No

Lumaj                Yes

McMahon         No

Murphy            No

Oakes                 No

Shays                 No

Tong                   No

Westby              Not yet

Whitnum          No, but said used to own a gun.

The Marijuana Question
April 26, 2012

During the WFSB Face the State  senate debates, we asked the candidates if they had smoked marijuana.     For the most part, the answer fell along party lines.   The Republicans all replied, “no,”  while the Democrats, with the exception of Susan Bysiewicz, said “yes.”

Bysiewicz         No

Hill                     No

Lumaj                No

McMahon         No

Murphy            Yes

Oakes                 Yes

Shays                 No

Tong                   Yes

Westby              No

Whitnum         Yes

It’s All About Norwood
April 24, 2012

Back in the 1970s when two kids were sitting in Miss Colleran’s 5th grade classroom at the Balch School in Norwood, Massachusetts , could anyone have guessed they would be working in television some 40 years later?   

Was it the Watergate hearings that dominated the television airwaves then,   the Mary Tyler Moore show about a fictional TV station, or watching Ken Coleman and Johnny Pesky broadcast Red Sox games?     Whatever inspired those boys to later make television their careers,  was cultivated on some level at this historic elementary school.

“The Balch”

I recently had the chance to return to Norwood and “the Balch,” as it is called, thanks to an old friend I hadn’t seen in decades, who is an invaluable asset to my hometown.   Jack Tolman is the longtime  general manager of NPA-TV,  Norwood Public Access Television, and an unofficial historian of the town.    When Jack invited me to see the new NPA studios and visit “the Balch,” I made plans for the 100 mile trek from Hartford to Norwood, pronounced “Naw-wood,” by some locals.

Balch alumni Dennis House and Jack Tolman in the NPA-TV studio

Jack has made a name for himself with some excellent work digging through  old film and telling the stories of some key figures in Norwood history, educating and entertaining townspeople and preserving these productions for future generations.    Under his guidance, NPA has produced  special documentaries on several folks including former major league baseball player Richie Hebner  ( arguably Norwood’s most favorite son,) and Colonel George Lee, a Norwood native turned heroic fighter pilot in World War II.      I hadn’t heard of Lee until the special, and now because of Jack’s research and discovery of rare old film, Lee is a household name in town, as he should be.  

Jack also edited the first music video for the “Mighty Mighty Bosstones,” whose lead singer Dicky Barrett, is also from Norwood.  Barrett is now the announcer for the  Jimmy Kimmel Show and we were on the same Pop Warner team a zillion years ago.    Seems I’m always finding some Norwood connection to everything.  This constantly amuses my wife, whose Detroit suburb where she grew up is not nearly as ubiquitous as Norwood.

All of this documentary work is done through NPA-TV, which is hardly your ordinary suburban public access organization.   They have a brand new state of the art studio, with the most advanced equipment.     Trust me, I have been in and worked in commercial television stations that don’t come close to NPA.      Students at Norwood High School are learning more about television production than some college students.     I briefly talked to some of the students during my visit and told them to take advantage of these tremendous resources at their disposal.   Few high schools, if any, have the television program that Norwood has.

There are undoubtedly more NPA specials to come.  There is a box of old film waiting to be studied and created into something.     Jack told me there is even one old film that contains a brief scene of a very young Dennis House talking to a teacher.  The film is in fragile condition and we need to figure out how to save it.

Incidentally, another Balch alumnus works in television: Adam Joseph, a meteorologist at WPVI, the ABC station in Philadelphia.

Old tapes and film at NPA.   I’m in there somewhere.

After my tour of NPA,  Jack took me on a tour of our elementary school, where that ancient film of me was shot so many years ago.    As we walked up the front stairs, Jack said  to me  “wait until you smell this place…it has a unique, familiar smell.”     And it did.    It’s hard to describe, sort of a combination of old hardwood floors, cafeteria food, and perhaps a chemical from a copy machine.    Whatever that scent is made of, it brought back a flood of memories.      Living in town of course, Jack knows everybody, and as he rifled off names,  I instantly remembered every one of them, even after four decades.  Memory is a funny thing.

All the teachers we had are either retired or dead, but Jack and I did see one of of our classmates, Patty Drake Wheeler, who is now a teacher there.     The building, though,  really hasn’t changed much and it was comforting to see  it exactly the same way as I remembered it when I went here from grades 3 to 6.   The   tin ceilings, the century old oak flooring, and the tiny gym are like a time capsule.

We were disappointed our class picture is missing from the wall of the hundreds of students who have gone here in the past 99 years.   My brother’s class is hanging there.   We were told the missing classes might be in boxes in some storage room.   My grandfather went to school here in  the 1920s, so maybe his class picture is packed somewhere ,too.   The Balch turns 100 years old next year, and I am sensing another NPA documentary.

By the way, the folks who built the new NPA studio are the same folks who recently gave a facelift to the WFSB studio: Mystic Scenic Studios of, where else….Norwood.    Sunday’s Face the State Republican senate debate featured Mark Pazniokas of the Connecticut Mirror on our panel.   Mark is a native, of you guessed it, Norwood.     WFSB studio lighting guru Dave Chmielewski is often seen wearing an “Ernie and the Automatics” t-shirt.     That band, which performed in our Better Connecticut studios a while back, is from Norwood.

It’s all about Norwood.

Yours truly, Balch School 4th grade picture

My grandfather, Crescenzo Chully (Chiulli) also attended “the Balch

Jack Tolman, Balch 4th grade picture

My brother’s Balch class picture.  Chris House is second from the left on the bottom row


Balch alum Adam Joseph

Norwood’s very own Mark Pazniokas at the WFSB GOP senate debate.  The Wall Street Journal’s Shelly Banjo is not from Norwood, but wishes she was.

The crew from Mystic Scenic tweaking the WFSB news set

Also read about the Norwood guys working in the big offices at Fenway:

Dems Show No Love for Dodd; GOP Ditto for Weicker
April 23, 2012

Chris Dodd was the longest serving senator in Connecticut history.  He ran for president in 2008, was briefly considered as a vice-presidential candidate, and campaigned on behalf of Democrats in our state for more than 30 years.    There are countless video clips and pictures of him being embraced by state Democrats and stories of how Dodd helped them and their tales of what a great senator he was.

Lowell Weicker is one of the longest serving Republican senators in Connecticut history, and the only Republican elected senator in our state in the past 50 years.    He helped  bring down a corrupt president, and is one of the few people elected to the House and Senate and elected governor.

But during our recent senate debates when we asked the candidates who is their favorite senator in Connecticut history, not one person answered Dodd or Weicker.

Congressman Chris Murphy picked Abe Ribicoff, rather than Dodd, the man who campaigned for him in his pivotal race  in 2006,  a man who had been his senator since he was seven years old, the man for whom he served as an intern.     Dodd also campaigned for Susan Bysiewicz over the years,  but the former secretary of the state didn’t choose Dodd either,  fumbling the question along with  Lee Whitnum.    Whitnum picked Rosa DeLauro, who is not a senator.   William Tong also picked Ribicoff.    Matthew Oakes said he would have picked Dodd, but “he let me down.”

Three of the Republicans picked Prescott Bush, rather than the only Republican alive who has navigated the Connecticut political waters to win a senate seat, and be re-elected to it two times.    Linda McMahon picked Joe Lieberman, and Chris Shays picked William Johnson, one Connecticut’s first two senators.

Giant Dinosaurs Occupy Hartford
April 20, 2012

One of the coolest exhibits ever has come to your capital city.  “Dinosaurs Unearthed” features life sized dinosaurs inside the Connecticut Science Center at Adriaen’s Landing.  It runs through September 2.  For more information:  

Here are a few pictures I took.


Will City Name Street for Key Figure in Perez Corruption Scandal?
April 18, 2012

There is tremendous controversy surrounding a proposal to re-name a corner in Hartford’s north end after a key figure in the Eddie Perez corruption scandal.    City council member Cynthia Jennings is seeking approval for Abraham Giles Way,  to be named for the late former state representative and Democratic party power broker.     Giles was charged with extortion and later pleaded guilty to misdemeanor charges.     An editorial in the Hartford Courant urged the city to turn down the naming proposal.    

I was a little surprised city leaders even have the time to deal with this matter.    Considering the tax situation in the beleagured city, it would seem every available minute should be spent on the city’s top priority:  recruiting new business and developers to turn empty  stores and vacant lots into revenue producers.    There is a dark, empty skyscraper in the heart of downtown looking down on a giant hole in the ground.      Is there really time to study whether a street should be named for a convicted criminal?

One of the arguments made by Jennings is that Giles should be honored for his contributions to the city.   An argument could be made that former governor John Rowland should be honored for his contributions to Hartford.    The Connecticut Science Center, in fact all of Adriaen’s Landing, Capital Community College, and Hartford 21  became reality because of his leadership.    I don’t see anyone in the city proposing  naming something for a man whose mark on Hartford will be felt for generations.    

Jennings also cited the need for “role models” as one of the reasons she supports a street named for Giles.      There are several upstanding citizens who could serve as role models in the north end.  The late businessman and community leader Richard Weaver-Bey was suggested.   What about a street named after Carrie Saxon Perry, the first black woman elected mayor of a major city?    The man she replaced (Thirman Milner) has a school named after him.     State Representative Marie Kirkley-Bey is retiring after 20 years at the state capitol.   Surely, she is a role model.

Naming buildings and streets after politicians is a complicated thing, a process that often becomes partisan.       Former Mayor Ann Uccello was the first woman to be elected mayor of a major American City, serving from 1967 to 1971.     When I met her about ten years ago, I was surprised nothing was named in her honor, considering the national attention Uccello’s election received.   Uccello was the last Republican mayor of the capital city.    None of the Democratic administrations that followed sought to honor this trailblazer, but did find time to name a school after one her successors,  Democrat Milner.    

Just a few years ago, after some urging from then constitutional officers Denise Nappier, Nancy Wyman, and Susan Bysiewicz,  along with then Governor Jodi Rell,  the city renamed Ann Street after Mayor Ann Uccello. 

What about former congresswoman Nancy Johnson, who once told me she was inspired by Uccello to get into politics?    Nothing is named after this woman who served 20 years in Washington, even though her former colleague Barbara Kennelly, who served less time in Congress, has the main post office in Hartford named in her honor.     Robert Giaimo, Rosa DeLauro’s predecessor in the 2nd district,  lived to see a federal building in New Haven named after him.    

Senator Thomas Dodd, who was censured by his colleagues for the misuse of campaign funds, had a stadium and a UConn research center named after him.     Prescott Bush, who also served two terms in the U.S. Senate,  has a dinner that bears his name but not nearly the  honor bestowed upon Dodd, whom he beat in 1956.     Lowell Weicker, one of the few people in Connecticut history to be elected to congress, the senate and governor,  seems worthy of having his name on some real estate, as does former Senator Chris Dodd, the longest serving senator  in Connecticut history.    Ditto for Senator Joe Lieberman, the only person from Connecticut to ever be on  a presidential ticket for a major party.    Former Senator and Governor Abe Ribicoff lived to see his name put on a federal building.       

A decision on Abraham Giles Way could come within a month.     You can make your opinions known by contacting city hall.


A View of the Volt
April 18, 2012

There is a now a Chevy Volt in the WFSB parking lot.    Channel 3 meteorologist just traded in his gas guzzling Japanese SUV for an American miser that runs on electric power with gas as a backup.     

Check this out:  in his first 30 miles of owning it , Mark’s Volt got over 200 miles per gallon.    

The Volt was getting quite a bit of attention outside our studios as Mark plugged it in to charge.     It’s really a good looking car, unlike the Toyota Prius, whose awkward appearance resembles a household cleaning appliance.   And it is made by American workers at Detroit’s  Hamtramck plant, unlike the appliance, made overseas in Japan.

Mark’s  topaz blue metallic Volt is somewhat rare.     According to General Motors communications manager David Darovitz,  only 6.7% of Volts sold so far are that color.


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