HADDAM LAND SWAP A MANUFACTURED CONTROVERSY

Check out my interview on this issue with Ray Dunaway this morning on WTIC-AM BNewsTalk 1080.

Let’s start with this: The Shad is an environmentalist; an ardent, even strident one. But that won’t ever stop me from telling it like it is—or as I see it—on The Hanging Shad.

That said, the so-called Haddam land swap, passed by the legislature and signed by the governor, is one of the phoniest and completely manufactured controversies to come along in some time. The bottom line is that the “controversy” was invented by ungrateful “environmentalists” who have gotten every little thing they’ve wanted from the state legislature but are now looking for an issue, any issue, to jump on. This is their latest. And they’re backed by a former legislator who is fighting to be relevant.

Whether it’s the Sooty Six, the Filthy Five, clean water legislation, clean air action, you name it, the Democrats in the General Assembly has supported it—and rightly so. The environmental records of these lawmakers, including state Sen. Eileen Daily, is beyond reproach. But some in the environmental community have nothing better to do but demonize Sen. Daily who simply wants to bring economic development, jobs, and Grand List growth to the town. But some in the environmental community are in need of an issue or they become irrelevant.

Speaking of irrelevant, former state Rep. James Spillone found it necessary to step into the fray. Obviously feeling the need to still be involved, Spallone took the extraordinary step of writing a letter—as a private citizen—to Gov. Malloy urging him to veto the bill. Please. You’re not in the legislature anymore. Get over it.

This is not to say there weren’t political dealings involved. Sen. Daily chairs the legislature’s powerful finance committee. She’s a skilled politician who obviously lobbied Malloy on the land swap issue and the governor needed her help with his budget. These situations happen all the time. I saw dozens of them when I worked for the Senate Democrats. The point is, they got it right in the end.

The Malloy administration fumbled this one badly and only added fuel to the phony fire. First, Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP) Commissioner Daniel Esty clammed up about the whole issue, clearly at the
Malloy’s direction (or someone in the administration). However, Esty wasn’t bright enough not to email about it. The guy who obviously craves attention (see New York Times op-ed) and is supposed to the environmental watchdog, all of a sudden won’t give an opinion on an environmental question. Now that will get people’s attention and inspire conspiracy theorists about a cover-up of something.

There are questions about what was intended for the land from the last owners. But the deal was vetted and the right decision was made. Now those “environmentalists” can move on to their next issue.