The Norwich Bulletin’s Ray Hackett is the tell-it-like-it-is “dean” of the Eastern Connecticut press corps—knowledgeable, been around forever, doesn’t really care about what the subject of his news reports (or editorials) think. It’s a great status for a reporter/editor but sometimes not so great for politicians he thinks are being like, well, politicians.
Such is the case with Hackett’s editorial about state Senate President Don Williams. Hackett has hammered legislative leaders about what he sees as their lack of leadership during the recent (and continuing) budget crisis. The Shad worked for Sen. Williams for several years as the communications director for Senate Democratic caucus.
It seems Sen. Williams and Hackett had a problem before the meeting for the editorial ever took place. Williams had submitted an op-ed to the Bulletin that did not run. (Actually, it’s a bit of an art to get newspapers to run an op-ed, they don’t just throw it in there because you ask, especially in an election year.) Williams says the op-ed decision and the editorial meeting were linked. Hackett says he had requested the editorial board meeting weeks ago but didn’t get a response.
As for Hackett’s dissatisfaction with Williams’ answers, it would be no different if he, Hackett, asked anybody else at the Capitol. Unless Williams said, “Yeah, you’re right Ray. We all suck and I’m sorry, we’ll fix the budget first thing in the morning,” Hackett was not going to be happy. The fact is the last budget was done with borrowing, revenue predictions as seen through rose-colored glasses and one-shot revenues. But that’s how it is often done (albeit not to this degree).
Williams is smart, insightful, in it for the right reasons and gets the media thing because he was once a reporter. Being nonresponsive to any newspaper’s request for a meeting—even if the answer is “no”—is not good. The thought here is that Williams would do better to rely more on his instincts and less on his staff. Williams deserves a better public persona.