The Connecticut General Assembly will hold an informational hearing today on the proposed $1.1 billion economic development partnership between the state and Jackson Laboratories, a leader in genetic and genome research. However, opponents of the deal have done their very best to stack the deck against the deal.
The leading legislative opponent is state Sen. Len Suzio (R-Meriden) who has called the plan to create jobs in Connecticut “stupid.” Suzio has proven himself to be the most clueless lawmaker in the legislature in his short, seven-month tenure there. But to his credit, he knows where to take his nonsense and misinformation so it’s heard.
Suzio showed up in-studio Wednesday at WTIC-AM radio for the afternoon drive time show, “State and Church” hosted by the Dishonest Duo of former Governor John Rowland and Pastor Will Marotti. Suzio couldn’t have picked a better media outlet. On their best day, the DD simply mislead their audience instead of spewing outright, conservative propaganda (if they are really interested in informing their audience, they’d have on someone on the opposite side of this—or any—issue). Yesterday, the show was filled with untruths.
Let’s try to at least hit the tree tops of their falsehoods:
• Marotti claimed a Jackson Lab deal was “rejected” in Florida. Wrong. A quick check of local Florida media shows that Florida simply couldn’t get its act together and they are now regretting it. The Naples Daily News reports, “Jackson aborted its Naples plan earlier this year and set its sights on Sarasota for a similar venture. Lab officials withdrew the Sarasota plan when they could not get a meeting with Gov. Rick Scott to get his backing for state economic development funding.” That’s hardly being “rejected” in Florida. Gov. Malloy wasn’t going to let that happen.
• On the radio, Suzio claimed, “If this was in the world of business and banking, they would have been thrown out of the office. … I am not opposed to Jackson Labs coming to Connecticut. But I’m not for paying them $1 million per job to come to Connecticut.” Wrong again. The truth-challenged trio conveniently ignored the projected creation of some 6,000 indirect jobs including construction jobs in building the labs and in areas such as retail that the huge project will bring.
Rowland, who history with telling the truth led him to a stint in the pokey when was governor, ridiculed Jackson Labs saying, “They sell mice.” Nice. The Bangor (Maine) Daily News, where Jackson is based, reports, “The Jackson Laboratory for Genomic Medicine will focus [in Connecticut] on the development of personalized treatments for cancer and other diseases based on individual patients’ genetic makeup.” That’s not “selling mice”; it’s the cutting edge of bioscience research.
Maybe Rowland and Marotti should do a little research (Suzio is a lost cause). Jackson Labs has a new CEO coming on board who is a leading breast cancer research. The website Fenceviewer.com reports, “Dr. Liu is an international leader in cancer biology, genomics, human genetics and molecular epidemiology. He was director of the Specialized Program of Research Excellence in Breast Cancer at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill from 1992 to 1996. In 1996, he was appointed director of the division of clinical sciences at the National Cancer Institute.” Selling mice indeed.
If the sycophantic callers to “State and Church” are any indication, the legislative informational hearing will likely be spent refuting the nonsense that Suzio has put out there. The hearing will be shown on the great CT-N TV and can be seen later on the CT-N website (see what I did there? I worked in the “videotape”).
The Malloy administration is so perplexed by Suzio’s bizarre position that chief strategist Roy Occhiogrosso tells The Shad, “Let me get this straight: Sen. Suzio and John Rowland were criticizing an economic development deal that by all accounts is the best thing to happen to Connecticut in a long, long time…Sen. Suzio’s views on the flatness of the world are fairly well known, and all I can say about John Rowland’s negotiating skills (see: fleecing by [Patriots owner] Bob Kraft)…[I]f John Rowland had been at Yalta we’d all be speaking Russian right now.” As the former communications director for the Senate Democrats (as Occhiogross was before me), I feel his pain. Sometimes the abject craziness of someone’s view leaves you nearly speechless.
Finally, forgive me if I take the guidance of the Yale-educated state economic development chief Catherine Smith over Suzio’s. She is fully behind the Jackson deal and that carries serious weight. She is a former executive at Aetna and ING and received a Master’s degree in public and private management from the Yale School of Management. Suzio apparently worked for some bioscience company at one time although his bio page on the state senate Republicans’ website contains no mention of such experience. His background is as a leader in the banking industry (did you say “Occupy Suzio”?).
Republicans are right to question the deal and get as much information as possible. But by the experts’ accounts, this is a good risk for Connecticut. And as in so many other ways, Connecticut should not be like Florida.