CCM’s DeLong is De-Wrong, and Endangers Group’s Relationship with Legislature

It’s not particularly uncommon for someone new to a job to purposely make some waves to show the new employer that he is tough and aggressive. But that can easily backfire. This seems to be the case with Joseph DeLong, the new executive director of the Connecticut Conference of Municipalities, the lobbying group for the state’s cities and towns.

DeLong managed to honk off just about everyone in the General Assembly just three months into his time in Connecticut. If he was trying to show he was going to put a “shot across the bow” of the legislature, he succeeded and in the process managed to alienate the very people who decide what amount of state aid his municipalities get.

In remarks this past week, DeLong started things off by flaming Senate Majority Leader Bob Duff and Senate Minority Leader Len Fasano, two of the most powerful members of the legislature. He faulted Duff for supporting an extension of workers compensation for police and firefighters (which will cost cities and towns more money). Duff was fairly dismissive and was right to be. DeLong smacked Fasano for wanting a seat at the budget negotiating table. Fasano didn’t care for it as he has spent considerable time and energy in his pursuit of a role in the talks.

After DeLong’s pronouncement that the General Assembly was “starved for leadership,” Senate President Marty Looney weighed in and didn’t hold back. In response that is uncommon for the usually mild mannered Looney, he slammed DeLong. “In the short time that Mr. DeLong has been in Connecticut, he has obliterated the positive working relationship — built by former CCM executive directors — which CCM previously enjoyed with legislative leaders,” Looney said. “The relationship, as it stands today, is more toxic than the water DeLong failed to protect West Virginia inmates from drinking,” he said.

The latter was a reference to some controversy in DeLong’s past. Mentioning someone’s past employment is extremely out of character for Looney. Further, a member of Looney’s staff provided background on the controversy in DeLong’s past—very curious.

CCM spokesman Kevin Maloney subsequently tried to walk back DeLong’s bombastic remarks. “CCM values its relationships with all of Connecticut’s state legislative leaders and will continue to work hard with Senator Looney and all other legislative leaders on key municipal issues. CCM recognizes the important property tax reform victories accomplished this session and will work to deepen and strengthen relationships with leaders,” he said.

The damage may already have been done and Mr. DeLong has some bridges to un-burn.