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