The Absentee Governor?

There’s a fascinating piece in this week’s Fairfield County Weekly about Gov. Rell, in which Andy Bromage builds a case for Rell being less than fully involved in the running of the state. They examined her daily schedules, and found that not a lot was going on. Observe:

Flip through a few pages of Gov. Jodi Rell’s official schedule and you might start considering a career in politics.

This was her schedule Nov. 14. Her day unfolded like this:

7:08 – 7:57 a.m. Phone in to three morning radio shows to discuss the crappy economy and the dreadful choices you’ll have to make to balance the books.

9 – 9:30 Tape audio for a public service announcement on diabetes awareness — by phone.

10 – 10:30 Meet with Congressman John Larson, a Democrat, at the Governor’s Residence.

11:05 – 11:15 Call in to another radio show, Stu Briar of WICH in Norwich.

1 – 1:30 p.m. Meet with your social services commissioner in the Governor’s Office for an update on your faltering state health care program.

2 – 2:05 p.m. Call John Frey, the Republican whip in the state House of Representatives.

And the rest of the day is clear.

Poor John Larson only got half an hour!

The article contains some more analysis of her schedules, plus interviews with Democrats accusing her of not being around much (a complaint I’ve heard before). Jim Amann has a lot to say, including this bit:

[Rell] is extremely cautious,” he adds. “And I think it’s because she looks at that popularity poll.”
[…]
“It’s like you have this very charming woman with great personality, but she’s very content to not shake up anything in government. Status quo is OK. Pay the bills.”

Rell’s spokesman defended her this way:

Rell spokesman Chris Cooper rejects that characterization of his boss and says her appointment book can be misleading. Rell’s at the Capitol “nearly every other day” unless she ends one day close to where she’s starting the next one, Cooper says.

Nearly every other day? …Wow!

Cooper also said that a lot of what the governor does never makes it on to the official schedule.

These complaints, including pieces in the article where it becomes clear that Lisa Moody and other senior staff are taking a lot of meetings with commissioners and others instead of Rell herself, are not exactly new. There have been rumblings around the Capitol for a while, especially from Democrats, that Rell is not around enough. There’s also a comparison to John Rowland, whose days, at least according to his official schedules, were considerably fuller.

To be fair, there’s a lot in the article from the governor’s detractors, and not much from her supporters. And public schedules plus irritated Democrats and disgruntled former commissioners (Jennifer Aniskovich is quoted) do not necessarily add up to a problem. More worrying for Rell may be the rift developing between her administration and the state GOP.

But the article is absolutely worth a read. Even after four years, negative press about the governor is still surprisingly rare, and this may be one of the principal lines of attack for Democrats if Rell runs for re-election in 2010.

Source
Bromage, Andy. “Missing In Action.” Fairfield County Weekly 4 December, 2008.

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28 responses to “The Absentee Governor?

  1. Not to defend Rell overmuch, but Weicker, cited as busy by Bromage, was indeed busy muscling Dems and Repubs to pass an income tax. He was not interested in state government, and high tailed it out off office after his redistribution efforts paid off. The Democrat controlled legislature, very grateful, went on to do what legislatures do – they spent the boodle. Very busy indeed. When last heard from on the state budget, Weicker was complaining, “Where did it all go?” – all the surpluses. Into the black hole me’boy. The truth is – and Bromage must know it – that the boys in the legislature like to spend money and jack up budgets. There’s a lot of hungry special interests out there to feed with tax dollars.

    Personally – with a $6 billion deficit hovering over our heads – I’d be in favor of paying both he governor and the legislature to stay home next session. Give them a ticket to Los Vegas; let’em enjoy themselves, provided they stay there for a couple of sessions. Just give us a break.

    When these guys “work”, you pay.

    So Bromage, who tends to wear his liberal Democrat affiliation on his sleeve, has been given a corner in the Fairfield Weekly, pretty much a publication annex of the Democrat Party, to ventilate about Rell’s reluctance to be bullied, more often than is necessary, by Amann, once considered a “fiscal conservative” and the other spendthrifts. What else is new?

    This week, the Guv went to Washington – gold plated tin cup in hand – to beg for money to meet the needs of her hobbled budget. She was not alone.

    What we need from Bromage is a little parody on all this, whith Weicjer in the background screaming, “Where’d it all go!!!”

    He’s good with parodies.

  2. Part of the reason you aren’t hearing from Rell “supporters” is that outside of her own office they are very few in the legislature and even state government. The governor’s absenteeism is well known. Last year at the end of the session when the Governor traditionally stays late to deliver a speech, the Gov left at 6 o’clock. Ask even her own department heads or GOP senators off the record and they will tell you that Lisa Moody is our real Governor and Jodi Rell has little or no idea what is happening (and probably prefers it this way).

    Amann’s characterization is more than fair, in fact I would say that he is being generous.

  3. AndersonScooper

    C’mon guys. Rell works fantastically hard. And she is an expert on health care. Just look at the success of her Charter Oak plan…

    And on the economy? Rell’s knowledge rivals that of Sarah Palin.

    Yep, hard-working and smart. That’s our Governor.

  4. That’s right, Poopy Scoopy … And she’s still kickin’ Democrat ass, every day.

    Must just drive you up the wall, huh?

    Of course, you’ve got Jimmy “Dishonorable” Amann, a disgruntled Rowland-era appointee and Roy O-fer-grosso taking cheap shots in a “newspaper” known primarily for escort service ads … But by all means, revel! Revel! Pretend it matters!

    Just don’t stop and think how badly she’d be “crushing” you if she put in 40 hours a week!

  5. Don,

    Your suggestion to send them all off to Vegas is not all that out there, but instead of Vegas I’d save the airfare, and just bus them to Foxwoods.

    One should ask Nappier how the two billion in new bonding she invested for a fraction of the teacher pension under funding is doing? At least if she took the two very very large boxes of ziti to our local casinos we would have gotten a share of the slot revenue.

    Also as I read what it appears Rell’s day consists of I was struck by the thought that she seems to be on the job a bit more than both our Democratic senators seemed have been recently. You don’t think she is working on her qualifications for the job do you?

    Of course now that the Imus in the morning show is no more, and it’s four more years to the next presidential election maybe over the next year or two they may be able to squeeze some work in. With that in mind, she may want to consider lengthening her day to at least 2:30

  6. [quote comment=”38918″]C’mon guys. Rell works fantastically hard. And she is an expert on health care. Just look at the success of her Charter Oak plan…

    And on the economy? Rell’s knowledge rivals that of Sarah Palin.

    Yep, hard-working and smart. That’s our Governor.[/quote]
    That puts here on par with Williams, Donovan, Merrill and the rest of the State democratic team.

  7. BruceRubenstein

    Rell’s favorability numbers are continuing to slip…..folks on the ground that arent political junkies with an agenda or fixed idology have to work much harder now then they did a generation ago…just to stay in place….this schedule of hers befits a very dis-engaged politico who sure isnt giving us our moneys worth and it is clear that she certainly doesnt work as hard as the average working person in this state.

  8. It appears to be a very bad press day for Rell and Governor Moody…with this article and The Day article as well.

    “Missing in Action” cleary paints Rell as an absentee Governor…..would you expect more from the “accidential” Governor. I would love to see a comparison of Rell’s schedule and Lt. Gov Fedele’s schedule. Here’s a bet: I bet Fedele does more in his “half time” LG position than Rell does in her “full time.”

    I also love the Rell spokesman spin of “she does alot of spontaneous meetings”…..what a joke. As if anyone walking by the Governor’s office can just “drop by for a hi.”

    “Parlor Games” is equally as entertaining. It appears it was all Governor Moody’s attempt to neuter Rob Simmons….a potential aversary for Gov in 2010. Ironically…now….do to her efforts….Moody is almost ensuring a party challenge to Rell in 2010.

    Finally, people are starting to see that the “Emperior has no clothes!”

  9. RedRooster hits the nail on the head here. Try getting a meeting with the Governor if you are a charity, an advocacy group, a local developer, really just about anyone….good luck. The idea she is giving random meetings every day is pure fiction.

  10. [quote comment=”38922″]Rell’s favorability numbers are continuing to slip…..

    [/quote]

    If you have more recent data Bruce, please cite it.

    However Jodi doesn’t seem to be doing too badly according to this.

  11. Look, I understand that Simmons’ people are upset about his office getting trimmed, but Rell bet heavily on Simmons and his team in the wake of the 2006 shellacking that the GOP received — remember, Simmons himself was given his state job by Rell, and his campaign manager was eased into the GOP chairmanship on her good graces — so I don’t see that this hostility is merited or even reasonable.

    The truth is that Rell has very little to fear by way of a Simmons challenge or Healy’s outrage — in reality, it’s a buyers market for former GOP congressmen and their lieutenants here in Connecticut, and if Governor 80% wearies of taking crap off of one particular Goldwater conservative, it would not be especially difficult to put stauncher allies or people from the Shays or Johnson universes into those plum positions.

    As for this “primary from the right” nonsense, Republicans are incapable of taking their sitting officeholders down in primaries, a lesson they learned well when Bush got crushed by Weicker in the 80s. That’s why they came up with a new playbook by ’88, and that’s how we got Lieberman in the first place.* If the CT Republicans truly decided to take down Rell, they’d do it by backing Jim Amann.

    *(That Weicker came back and brought the income tax with him is an echo of their brilliance in poisoning the well for a Dodd cabinet spot, denying themselves the possibility of a Republican appointment.)

  12. [quote comment=”38925″][quote comment=”38922″]Rell’s favorability numbers are continuing to slip…..

    [/quote]

    If you have more recent data Bruce, please cite it.

    However Jodi doesn’t seem to be doing too badly according to this.[/quote]

    Question: if every Republican in the state decided to oppose Rell simultaneously, would her approval ratings be under 50%?

  13. The situation with Simmons is easy to understand: It was the elimination of a platform to address citizens outside of the 2nd CD for a potential candidate for the Republican nomination for Governor. It puts Simmons under the scrutiny of someone who’s job was and is secured by the administration. The fact that Simmons found out about the move from the radio says alot. Not a good way to treat someone who has served the state and the party well.

  14. I guess she should put “Flex time” and “Open” in her schedule like Rowland’s.

    The gall of a Governor appearing on radio stations people actually listen to!

    Only a Democrat could try to make something like “Pay the bills.” sound like a bad thing.

  15. [quote comment=”38926″]
    Republicans are incapable of taking their sitting officeholders down in primaries, a lesson they learned well when Bush got crushed by Weicker in the 80s.
    [/quote]

    There was no primary in 1982 even though Prescott Bush, Jr had more than twice the delegates needed to get one. His challange was designed to be a “shot across the bow” and nothing else.

    It did however get Weicker’s attention and he was able through a series of lies, half-truths and total misrepresentations, to get the CT GOP to change our party rules as they applied to statewide primaries allowing all voters to vote in them.
    (We changed that back in 1990 or `92 – I was a delegate at both, and was a delegate for Prescott Bush, Jr in 1982 as well.)

    [quote comment=”38926″]
    That’s why they came up with a new playbook by ’88, and that’s how we got Lieberman in the first place.
    [/quote]

    It was not “they”.

    Only 8 towns split Bush/Lieberman in 1988 and all of them were heavy Bozzuto towns in 1986.

  16. [quote comment=”38930″]Only 8 towns split Bush/Lieberman in 1988 and all of them were heavy Bozzuto towns in 1986.[/quote]

    Any idea where info that far back can be found?

  17. Any idea where info that far back can be found?

    The Journal Inquirer morgue, under Pesci, D. Or you could just pick up the phone and ask Chris Powell, who reviewed Weicker’s autobiography under the title Mr. Gasbag Blows a…” or some such thing.

  18. ACR’s account is accurate. Prescott Bush was not a conservative; he was a Rockefeller Republican who bowed out at the last minute. Conservativism is not a political strategy that has been tried and wanting in Connecticut. It has never been tried.

    Incidentally, when Weicker first ran for the senate, he was a rip roaring, pro-hawk, millionaire Republican, not unlike Prescott. Bozzuto was more honest than most politicians, which is why he lost.

    As for do nothing governors, Henry Mencken reminds us, in his commentary on Coolidge, why they are necessary: “We suffer most when the White House bursts with ideas. With a World Saver preceding him and a Wonder Boy following him, he begins to seem, in retrospect, an extremely comfortable and even praiseworthy citizen. His failings are forgotten; the country remembers only the grateful fact that he left it alone… If the day ever comes when Jefferson’s warnings are heeded at last, and we reduce government to its simplest terms, it may very well happen that Cal’s bones, now resting inconspicuously in the Vermont granite, will come to be revered as those of a man who really did the nation some service.”

    Not a bad epitaph.

  19. >>Bozzuto was more honest than most politicians, which is why he lost.

    Straight as a Nevada highway.

    Weicker had promised Bozzuto his full support in `86 if Dick would call his 49.7% of the 1982 delegates and get them to support Weickers rule change as the same delegates were to be called to a special rule change convention.

    Bozzuto took Weickers word, and called around 500 people one at time.

    Taking Weickers word was probably the only major mistake Dick Bozzuto has ever made in his life.

    Marla Romash, formerly of WTNH/TV was Lieberman’s press sect. so when the then-new-and-not-taken-too-seriously Quinipiac Poll put Joe in striking distance I called Marla.
    She remembered me from her TV-8 days when I identified myself as “Bozzuto 86” (I had also been Bozzuto 82) and took my advice to call Dick Bozzuto and get him to cross party lines and endorse Joe.

    Unaware that I had sent her in on the mission in the first place, Dick called me the next day and asked how ticked off I thought such a move would make other members of the GOP.

    I had our local party chair call him.
    We revised our Southington local by-laws so as to allow SRTC (Southington Republican Town Committee) members to actively support anyone except Weicker and sent Weicker a registered letter asking him to avoid Southington and informing him of our support of Lieberman.

    We had Lieberman bumper stickers and lawn signs available at our Republican Party headquarters and we actively got them out.

    Only a handful of towns had sent their entire delegations to the 1986 state convention with a blood oath; Southington was one of them.

    Our delegates were Bozzuto delegates – period.
    1st ballot, 2nd, 3rd, it didn’t matter; and every single one of our delegates had signed a document renouncing their membership in the party if they strayed for any reason what-so-ever.

    Weicker of course broke his word and wheeled in a shrill whiny witch named “Julia Belaga” from Westport.
    Belaga received 22 more votes than she needed to force a primary.

    Meanwhile Weicker warmed up his money machine and started a bigoted rumor regarding Bozzuto’s ethnicity.
    (Lowell Weicker is truely a bad, evil man of the 1st degree)

    Belaga primaried and on September 9th of 1986 beat the convention endorsed candidate, Dick Bozzuto.

    She went on to lose by a larger margin than any other candidate in modern history.

    The towns that had sent dedicated Bozzuto delegates in 1986 were the only towns that split Bush/Lieberman in 1988.
    It’s obvious that the Bozzuto endorsement put Joe over the top.

    Dick Bozzuto is among the 3 or so most honorable, decent men it has been my pleasure to know.

    He would have served our state well and he personifies what is truely RIGHT about America.
    He ratifies the work of our Founders.
    English as a 2nd language.
    Hard work.
    Stay straight, no short cuts.
    Become prosperous and help others do the same.
    Be kind and generous always no matter what.

  20. [quote comment=”38931″]

    Any idea where info that far back can be found?[/quote]

    “Far back”???

    Give me a break it was just yesterday!

    Look up the numbers yourself, right down to Bozzuto holding 49.7 of the delegates in 1982 – I haven’t looked anything up; I can do it all by memory.

    I met Prescott Bush, Jr’s nephew George (43) at the 82 convention too.
    He had a Miller long neck in his left hand (he gave up drinking 4 years later) and his uncle, my customer, Bill (they call him “Buck”) the youngest of 41’s brothers introduced us.

    Buck had a drop-dead gorgeous tall blond wife with a British accent, she carried herself with as much grace as Jackie Kennedy. Buck (William H.T. Bush) had zero affectations. No pomp what-so-ever; a very nice, normal guy.

    I have no recall problems (yet) Matt.
    Short term memory (….where did I put my car keys?……well that’s different.)

  21. It wasn’t the first or last betrayal by Weicker. He also promised his support to Roger Eddy, then running against Dodd. Then he endorsed Dodd at the last moment. It’s good to have this account here.

  22. [quote comment=”38936″]It wasn’t the first or last betrayal by Weicker.

    He also promised his support to Roger Eddy

    [/quote]

    Roger was a good guy too, and he deserved better.

    Weicker’s a snake.

    The Troopers assigned to him while he was Governor, all had horror stories about how he treated his mentally challenged son; never mind how he treated the Troopers (even worse).

    One of his drivers once asked which way the Gov would rather go; route A or route B?
    Weicker, enraged for no apparent reason, made the Trooper stop the car, and threw him out, driving off leaving the Trooper standing on the highway.

    Truly a classless ass.

  23. Let me fix that italics problem.

    Sorry.

  24. Poor Roger Eddy–he really was a good guy. We always used to go to his farm stand to get corn in the summers. His farm is still there, one of the last such tracts of open land in Newington.

    I think he may have won Newington, but almost nowhere else. Newington was a much more Republican town back then–those were the days when Dominic Mazzoccoli was mayor.

  25. [quote comment=”38935″][quote comment=”38931″]

    Any idea where info that far back can be found?[/quote]

    “Far back”???

    Give me a break it was just yesterday!

    Look up the numbers yourself, right down to Bozzuto holding 49.7 of the delegates in 1982 – I haven’t looked anything up; I can do it all by memory.[/quote]

    Since Bush and Lieberman both won the state, it would be kind of incredible if only 8 towns backed both — so I’m interested in seeing the local statistics from ’88. Would be glad to read up if the info was publicly available.

  26. [quote post=”2394″]Since Bush and Lieberman both won the state, it would be kind of incredible if only 8 towns backed both — so I’m interested in seeing the local statistics from ‘88. Would be glad to read up if the info was publicly available.[/quote]

    The margins in each race were so narrow that its not impossible. Bush received slightly less then 52%, and Lieberman was actually under 50%.

    Having said that, I think there had to be towns in CT-2 that went Bush/Lieberman. But my search for town-by-town results was fruitless, unfortunately.

  27. BruceRubenstein

    Acr….sorry i didnt get back to you sooner…but i had to be a lawyer the rest of the day. Rell’s number as cited is 65…..down from the 70’s she has enjoyed for some years…..i believe a poll today would show around 60….and she will slip further….now whether my party can get a decent candidate to challenge her and win…remains a question

  28. >>I believe a poll today would show around 60…

    Of course.

    Whatever the Democratic super majorities do to further screw up the state will somehow become her fault.

    I’m quite sure that it will never enter the minds of any Democrats that due to our geographic location we could reduce a few targeted taxes and realize massive revenue gains.

    Diesel fuel might be a good example seeing as our last hike on that commodity actually resulted in a net loss to the state. (Trucks carry enough fuel to drive right through.)

    60% of the cigarettes consumed in the greater Boston market area carry a New Hampshire tax stamp.

    A minor reduction in that tax (down to 10 dollars a carton), plus the elimination of the added sales tax (currently over 3 bucks a carton – and face it, taxing a tax is after all a bit much) would result in gains that would by industry calculations might exceed a half a BILLION a year in total tax revenues for the State of Connecticut.

    Even after backing off “the loss” of native Connecticut smoker revenues due to the reduction the net gain remains over 350 MILLION dollars.

    No consideration is being made in the above numbers for the expected drop in bootleg product (currently in excess of 24% of all cigarettes consumed in CT are *not* carrying a CT tax stamp) such a reduction would cause.

    BTW – long term European studies have indicated that high tobacco prices work counter-intuitively as it regards youth smoking.
    The higher the price, the more “adult” and exclusive it becomes, creating a larger not smaller pool of teen aged smokers.

    Why Jodi opposes high speed safe (ie: new speed pass) tolls is beyond me.
    I-95 carrys over a million a day and at minimum 17% drive through the state usually without spending one thin dime here.

    Tolls (HIGH TOLLS 20 bucks to cross the state) would discourage such use at least, reap fabulous revenues for us at best.

    Connecticut taxpayers could deduct their Toll Pass fees plus 50% (or some other percent) from their CT income tax so those CT citizens impacted by the tolls would be in a positive sense.

    Getting some of the out of staters off I-84 wouldn’t be such a bad idea either; they never move to the right lane because it’s legal to pass on the right in New York and our Troopers never write them any tickets for tying up the left lane.

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