New documents obtained by the The Day of New London yesterday show Gov. Rell’s administration used polling conducted by UConn professor Ken Dautrich far more extensively and far more recently than the governor has acknowledged casting further doubt on the truthfulness of the governor’s story in so-called Dautrich-gate. The newspaper reports a $6,000 poll was conducted this past April to weigh voters’ attitudes toward the governor’s proposed solutions to the state budget standoff. The governor has insisted she didn’t know Dautrich was involved in crafting the poll’s questions until she read it in the paper. The documents obtained by reporter Ted Mann show otherwise.
“Governor thought it [the poll] was great,” Rell Chief of Staff Lisa Moody wrote to Dautrich April 7th. Other e-mails obtained by The Day show Dautirch asking whether his polling work “[would be] a UConn project or not.”
Other e-mail exchanges show Dautrich offered to conduct polls for Rell as recently as this past July as the state budget stalemate dragged on. At the the time, Rell’s budget office was paying Dautrich and some graduate students to study the streamlining of the state government.
The e-mails exchanges that The Day received just yesterday were among the correspondence Rell’s staff failed to provide under an original Freedom of Information request about Dautrich’s work. Rell spokesman Rich Harris has dummied-up about all of this except to say the e-mails were inadvertently held back because staffers failed to properly use the “find” function in the Microsoft Outlook e-mail program.
Mann’s full reports are here: www.theday.com
With the municipal elections across the state just a week away, one wonders who among those running for the top spots in Connecticut’s cities and towns will eventually be in the middle of things statewide. Safe bets are two popular first selectmen: Mary Glassman of Simsbury and Scott Slifka of West Hartford. In fact, the two Democrats have already run statewide—against each other.
In 2006, Glassman was gubernatorial candidate Dan Malloy’s runningmate while Slifka filled the same role for John DeStefano. Malloy won the convention endorsement but DeStefano won the primary before being stomped by Gov. Rell in the general. In a bit of a strange twist though, Glassman won her primary, handily beating Slifka. She then paired with DeStefano in losing the general election.
Both chief elected officials have been successful in keeping down spending in their towns and more importantly, handling things locally while the state legislature engaged a summer-long game of budget chicken with the governor. The ridiculous and historic stalemate left local elected officials basically guessing as to their own budgets because they had no idea what they would be getting in state aid.
Both Glassman and Slifka survived the mess and indeed, showed exceptional leadership. In the six years previous to Glassman taking office, Simsbury’s budget increased an average of 5.5%. The last budget, with Glassman at the helm, saw a decrease of 3%.
West Hartford has a similar story. The operating budget dropped $645,000 and the capitol budget was reduced by $32 million with Slifka in charge.
One might think the two might be rivals having faced off in 2006 in the race for lieutenant governor. In fact, the opposite is true. The two have become strong allies with shared interest in issues such as regionalization—combining town efforts to reduce the duplication of services and thereby saving money.
The two were participants in a recent gathering of Connecticut municipal, business and education officials in Minnesota. The purpose of the meeting, sponsored by the Metro Hartford Alliance, was to share ideas on public policy issues with counterparts in St. Paul. Both Glassman and Slifka say the meeting were very useful.
Taxpayers should be pleased with such proactive efforts on the part of their local leaders because it’s becoming more and more of a concern that state leaders can’t get it done.
As for the talk of Glassman and Slifka eventually seeking higher office, both readily admit they’ve been asked about it often. But both they say they are squarely focused on next Tuesday’s municipal elections and if successful, will continue to work hard for the people of their towns.
While Connecticut has one of the more interesting US Senate races in the nation, the race to succeed legendary Massachusetts Senator Ted Kennedy is turning into some real, old school, hardball politics. Martha Coakley, the hard-as-nails attorney general, is considered the frontrunner. She was the only candidate to declare she was running without waiting around to see whether former US Rep. Joseph Kennedy—nephew of Ted and son of Bobby—would run. When Joe Kennedy opted out to continue his work as the head of a nonprofit that provides home heating oil to low-income families, others jumped in including former Somerville mayor and current US Rep. Michael Capuano, businessman (and Boston Celtics co-owner) Stephen Pagliuca and Alan Khazei, CEO and founder of the nonprofit “Be the Change.”
While Coakley and Capuano are considered the top-tier candidates, both are having their problems. Federal election authorities have undertaken an official review of Republican state party claims that Coakley improperly used her state campaign funds to launch her senate bid weeks before Kennedy’s death. She denies it.
Meanwhile, Capuano has given to charity $64,500 in contributions collected through a lobbying firm that is the subject of a federal pay-to-play investigation. However, Capuano’s campaign has not yet returned $47, 500 that employees of the firm and its associates gave to another political action committee created by Capuano in 2005. A Capuano spokesman says it was an oversight and that money will be given to charity as well.
Politics in Massachusetts is a contact sport to be sure.