Archive for November, 2012

Malloy Budget Cuts Defended by Occhigrosso as Specter of 2014 Looms
November 30, 2012

Governor Malloy has much to juggle this holiday season.   He’s been forced to make drastic budget cuts to close a $360M budget hole, and how he handles this is sure to become a major issue in his re-election campaign.   Already Republicans have their eye on his office.

Too early for 2014?   No.   Then Stamford Mayor Malloy appeared on Face the State on November 16, 2008 saying he wanted to run, some two years before the 2010 election.

This Sunday on Face the State, we are joined by the governor’s senior Roy Occhigrosso, a staunch defender of the administration’s policies over the past 23 months.    Occhiogrosso told me the governor is an optimist who likes his  job and is doing what he feels is best for the state.

When we broached the subject of re-election, Occhiogrosso told me, while the governor doesn’t worry about his potential rivals,  his senior advisor certainly does.   As for likely candidate Tom Foley, Occhiogrosso called him “Connecticut’s version of Mitt Romney.”

Occhiogrosso also said Malloy’s critics are missing the larger picture, “We’ve been through a tough time, but we have made some progress.”

Also joining us this Sunday:  two local mayors who talked about the impact the budget problems will have on cities and towns.     Republican Mayor Donna Hemmann of Wethersfield and Democratic Mayor John Picard of West Haven offered some unique insight into what will happen to taxpayers as these cuts take effect.

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

UPDATE: Watch Occhiogrosso here: http://www.wfsb.com/video?autoStart=true&topVideoCatNo=default&clipId=8018141

and Picard and Hemmann here: http://www.wfsb.com/video?autoStart=true&topVideoCatNo=default&clipId=8018149

Face the State Flashback: the Skyscraper Boom that Never Happened
November 29, 2012

At the end of the year it is customary for analysts, politicians and reporters to make economic forecasts for the year to come.   25 years ago this week, one of the most thorough and dogged journalists to ever work at Channel 3 did just that.    Our business reporter Jim Vicevich took a pulse of the economy, and told our viewers what to expect when the new year of 1988 was rung in.

In this Sunday’s Face the State Flashback,  you’ll see Jim reporting on a bright future for the state and Metro Hartford.  The economy was booming, in fact G. Fox was enjoying its best holiday season in years and shoppers were streaming in and out of Sage Allen.  

Developers gushed to Jim over their plans to build skyscrapers in 1988.    One of them would have been the tallest building in New England.  There were no fewer than eight skyscrapers proposed for downtown Hartford.   For more on what the city would have looked like, read this : http://dennishouse.wordpress.com/2012/01/24/what-hartford-might-have-bee/

Where are those future landmarks now?    And no one has shopped at a G.Fox or Sage Allen for many years.

As part of our flashback, we are also joined by author and historian Wilson Faude, who explains what happened after Jim filed that report.   He also talks about his new book, “The Hidden History of Connecticut,”  and shares his thoughts on the state’s new tourism campaign and what more could be done.

Tune in this Sunday at 11 AM for Face the State, only on Channel 3.

UPDATE:  Watch the segment right here: http://www.wfsb.com/video?autoStart=true&topVideoCatNo=default&clipId=8018159

Doctors Crusading Against Gun Violence
November 21, 2012

Two local doctors have made it their mission to get guns off the streets.  They’ve seen first hand the impact guns can have on children.

Doctor David Shapiro and Doctor Brendan Campbell created a gun buy back program that will offer gift certificates in exchange for guns.   Shapiro, a trauma surgeon at St. Francis Hospital, and Campbell, a trauma surgeon at Connecticut Children’s Medical Center came in to Face the State to talk about their goals.      They also talked about treating children who’ve been shot, and they have great advice for parents.   Also, surprisingly, suburbanites are also turning in their guns.

You can watch the complete interview right here:  http://www.wfsb.com/video?autoStart=true&topVideoCatNo=default&clipId=7998180

 

 

 

New Vaccination Law for New Year’s Day
November 21, 2012

Even though Connecticut has a high vaccination rate of 99%, our state only ranks 30th in the United States in terms of getting children vaccinated against diseases.    A new state law takes effect today that hopes to change that.

Commissioner of Public Health Dr. Jewel Mullen appeared on Face the State in November to explain the new vaccination law that impacts children and parents all over Connecticut.

You can watch the segment right here: http://www.wfsb.com/video?autoStart=true&topVideoCatNo=default&clipId=7998174

For more information on the new law, read this: http://www.ct.gov/dph/lib/dph/infectious_diseases/immunization/cvp/frequently_asked_questions_about_connecticut_vaccine_program_9_26_2012.cs.pdf

Abraham Lincoln’s Journey to Hartford
November 20, 2012

With the new Steven Spielberg movie “Lincoln” getting rave reviews, we thought we’d haul out some old film for a Face the State flashback of the one and only time Abraham Lincoln came to Hartford.

Of course, it is not film of the actual visit, but rather film from a documentary Channel 3 produced to commemorate the 100th anniversary of Lincoln’s visit in March of 1860.    We hired actors to play Lincoln, Gideon Welles of Glastonbury who later was appointed Secretary of the Navy under President Lincoln, Hartford Mayor Timothy Allyn and others.

This was no Ben Hur production, but wasn’t bad for something shot in our television studio.   It is well researched and as far as I can tell, historically accurate.

It is narrated by Dick Bertel, the former Channel 3 newsman.    The documentary, “Lincoln in Hartford” ran 30 minutes.   It’s fascinating.   The background sets show Union Station, City Hall, and a drug store on Asylum as they appeared in 1860.

You can watch the entire documentary, “Lincoln in Hartford” right here:   http://www.wfsb.com/video?autoStart=true&topVideoCatNo=default&clipId=8019111

Read more about Lincoln’s visit to Hartford in this article in the Hog River Journal http://connecticutexplored.org/issues/v03n04/lincolns_brilliance.htm

Face the State Flashback: You Paid For It
November 19, 2012

The I-team’s recent discovery of questionable use of state issued debit cards reminded me of a series of reports I did on government waste when I was a rookie reporter here at Channel 3.    It was called “You Paid For It.”

In this week’s Face the State flashback, we take you back to 1993, and the very first YPFI report.  You Paid For It was the brainchild of then WFSB news director Mark Effron, and it relied heavily on viewer tips.    We set up a hotline, and we were amazed at the response.  Before our first report even aired, we received more than 300 phone calls and letters (this was way before e-mail.)     Many of the tips came from state employees and contractors who were witnessing our government wasting our tax dollars.

The flashback YPFI focuses on a highway underpass in Windsor that was treated to a, well, beauty treatment, courtesy of the taxpayers.   The state paid $1,000,000 to have the underside of the highway covered in decorative stone.   Even the contractor thought there was a cheaper way to do it and called the project, a “big waste.”

As you watch the report, you’ll see even the state official had a tough time defending it.

We did several investigations that exposed millions of dollars in government waste.  We found brand new cars sitting in a lot, thanks to a purchasing blunder.   Another report led us to a state worker sleeping on the job while raking in overtime.   We uncovered waste in all corners of the state, and as YPFI grew, more viewers sent in tips.  People at the grocery store and Whalers games would come up to me and repeat my tag line, ” You Paid For It.”    The series became so popular WFSB even produced a two minute promotion for it that ran during the 1994 Olympic Games.  Two minutes is an eternity in television.

You Paid For It resonated with viewers because the economy was in rough shape, and taxpayers were still absorbing the implemention of the state income tax that became law in 1991.

By 1995, You Paid For It had ran its course and was retired.  I’d like to think our investigations and our team of viewers sending tips led to a more efficient and frugal state government.

Our I-team still does investigations into government waste, so if you see your government wasting your money, drop the I-team an e-mail at iteam3@wfsb.com

Watch the report right here:  http://www.wfsb.com/video?autoStart=true&topVideoCatNo=default&clipId=7975765

Some other reports I’ve done:  http://dennishouse.wordpress.com/2012/05/22/marking-20-years-at-wfsb/

 

 

Democrats Dispute One Party Rule
November 16, 2012

November was very good for Democrats.  They retained control of the general assembly, swept the congressional races, and the hotly contested senate race.   With a Democrat in the governor’s office, they control everything.

State party executive director Jonathan Harris disputes that, saying the party does work with Republicans on bi-partisan legislation.   The former state senator is one of our guests this Sunday on Face the State.  He is joined by State  senator-elect Cathy Osten, who replaces the retiring state senator Edith Prague.

We talked about the state budget deficit and what Democrats hope to do about it.

You can watch the entire interview this Sunday morning on Face the State.

The Amazing Pace of Car Options
November 14, 2012

Back in the 1950s and ’60s, air conditioning and seatbelts were rare options, and cigarette lighters were standard.  

When I drove an old beat up 1974 Pontiac Ventura in college, the original owner had apparently passed on carpeting as an option.  That spartan vinyl floor may have been cold but it was easy to clean, especially after a friend with a few too many drinks in his system threw up in it.  

By the time I was out of college and bought my first new car, the cool option in that 1986 Buick Skyhawk was a cassette tape holder.  It only held 3 tapes, but to me it was the most impressive option and it sold me on the car.

In the 90s it was the heated seats that suckered me into a Saab.

Even though my butt was always toasty warm, it was the worst car I ever owned.  Read about that here: http://dennishouse.wordpress.com/2011/12/19/my-saab-story/

Fast forward to today, and seatbelts, air conditioning and carpeting are all standard and some of the options are truly amazing.  The hot new option that Kara and I love in her new Buick Verano is an app, that allows you to start your car from phone, and check your mileage, tires, and your checking account.  Alright, not your bank account, but pretty much everything else.

For a few reasons, we leased this car, and the constant upgrading of technology is a major factor in our decision making.   Automotive engineers are making so much progress at such a rapid pace,  some of the goodies in a 2008 model are kind of old school now.   Who knows what automakers will be offering in 2020.

By the way, Kara’s car is made in her home state of Michigan!

DSS Commish Responds to Debit Card Strip Joint Investigation
November 13, 2012

This Sunday we heard from the Commissioner of Social Services about an I-team investigation that has the whole state buzzing from Facebook to radio talk shows.     During a taping of Face the State,  Roderick Bremby weighed in our report that found that some people were using their state issued debit cards at bars, casinos, even strip joints.

Most people I know are kind hearted and feel  those who need help, should get it.    The state helps the less fortunate by providing them assistance, courtesy of the taxpayer.  But if that assistance is abused, I have found that people have very little tolerance and their feeling of goodwill turns to anger and disgust.

Channel 3′s chief investigative reporter Eric Parker uncovered some eyeopening use of state money. 

 Some of the people using a state debit card funded with taxpayer money,  withdrew cash at ATMs in tobacco shops, casinos, nightclubs and establishments where women dance nude in anticipation of currency being tossed their way or tucked into their panties by patrons.   

Those EBT cards are meant for purchases of essentials, like food and baby formula.    There is no way to know what the money withdrawn from the ATMs was spent on, but one can only wonder what kind of essentials are sold at a strip joint.

Bremby said change could be on the way for this program.   Also, during Face the State, we have reaction from State Senator Joe Markley, who sits on the human services committee, which keeps an eye on DSS.   You can watch Bremby right here:http://www.wfsb.com/video?autoStart=true&topVideoCatNo=default&clipId=7975765

and Markley right here:  http://www.wfsb.com/video?autoStart=true&topVideoCatNo=default&clipId=7975776

Taxpayers are very sensitive to government waste, particularly during a bad economy.   I found this out first hand, when back in 1993, we launched a long series of investigations called “You Paid For It.”      The more waste and questionable spending of your money we uncovered, the more tips we got.

This Sunday, in our Face the State flashback, we will show you our very first You Paid For It report, which examined $1M ($1,000,000) of your tax dollars being spent to beautify a highway overpass.   Even the contractor who was paid to do the job called it a waste of your money.   The state official we interviewed had a difficult time defending it.

You can watch the interview with Commissioner Bremby and the flashback this Sunday morning at 11 on Face the State, only on Channel 3.

If you see your tax dollars being wasted, please let us know about it at   iteam3@wfsb.com

Watch Eric’s report right here: http://www.wfsb.com/story/20085789/state-issued-debit-cards-used-at-atms-at-bars-casinos-strip-clubs

Read about why your news tips are so important: http://dennishouse.wordpress.com/2012/08/22/the-importance-of-viewer-tips/

From Detective to News Anchor
November 13, 2012

We’ve had a few reports in the news this week of people doing some inappropriate things inside stores.    One guy is a accused of masturbating inside a Walmart in Milford, and another of doing something similar inside the Old Navy in West Hartford.     They were busted by store security, before police arrested them.

This reminds me of a job I had one summer during college.    I  worked as a store detective at Zayre’s in Dedham, Massachusetts, near my hometown of Norwood.   It was a fascinating  experience that taught me plenty about retail, people, and crime.

As I recall, the “loss prevention” team consisted of three or four of us;  one at the front door, and the other three spread out across the store and perched in the lookout.   This was the 80s, before security cameras were the norm, and the lookout was a concealed area high above the store, where we had a bird’s eye view of the aisles.   We also relied on security mirrors.

I liked that job because basically I could wear whatever I wanted, except on days I had to make my presence known and work the entrance.    On those days, I would wear a tie and had to do a quick assessment of customers walking through the front doors.   If someone was wearing a winter coat in July or was carrying an empty looking backpack, that would qualify as suspicious and we’d keep an eye on them.    The hope was that an intimidating stare would  discourage any shoplifting, although it didn’t always work.

Often though, I worked incognito.    If I was coming to work from the beach, I could wear shorts and a t-shirt, after all store detectives have to blend in with the customers.  We would walk around the store, sometimes pushing a shopping cart, while keeping an eye on potential thieves.

There were plenty of them.    We caught people who put on clothes in the fitting room and then tried to walk out wearing them.   One woman paid for  a trunk and didn’t think we’d notice that she’d filled it will goodies.     Another tried walking out with a television in the cart, wrongly assuming that we would think that nobody would ever try to steal such a large item.    People tried everything, even using their children as decoys.   Shoplifting was so widespread, it was impossible to catch everyone.

Still, we never saw anyone doing what the guys on the news are accused of doing.  Thank God for that.

Oh, the pay? It was lucrative field. Minimum wage: $3.75 an hour.

zayrepay

By the way, thanks to the great Pleasant Family Shopping blog for some Zayre’s pictures.  This is a very cool read:  http://pleasantfamilyshopping.blogspot.com/

also read about another job: http://dennishouse.wordpress.com/2012/02/02/my-television-debut/

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