Would the Captain please return to the bridge immediately!

You certainly can’t say that Governor Malloy is preoccupied with the minutia of running the state of Connecticut.

In fact, it is probably more accurate to say that it appears that he finds the day-to-day administrative duties of serving as Connecticut’s Chief Executive Officer boring, annoying or, at the very least, a waste of his time.

Many observers and commentators have already noted that Malloy has spent more time out-of-state than any other governor in recent history.  His recent “West Coast” fundraising trip, the one that he won’t discuss, is just one more example.

It certainly seems accurate to say, except in the face of an immediate natural disaster or crisis when the television cameras are running, Governor Malloy is pretty disinterested in rolling up his sleeves and attending to the actual administrative duties of managing a $20 billion dollar enterprise.

That said, when it comes to attending ground breakings or handing out taxpayer funds he is a master.

One of the most serious examples of this “hands-off” approach can be seen at the State Department of Education where Malloy’s Commissioner of Education, Stefan Pryor, has been allowed to systematically dismantle the professional capabilities of the agency.

While jobs go unfilled, key administrative functions go uncompleted.

And it when tasks must actually be performed, it seems the Malloy administration is more it is comfortable with out-sourcing the work to expensive, out-of-state consultants.

The impact of this approach can be easily seen with the State Department of Education’s Alliance District Program where at least eight communities ARE STILL WAITING for approval of their Year 2 Funding plans despite the fact that the fiscal year started 120 days ago and the school years is more than two months old.

The Malloy administration is quick to wrap itself in corporate education reform rhetoric but can’t seem to even review and approve the grants needed to implement its own corporate education reform program.  (Although it should be noted that checks are flowing for MassInsight, the out-of-state education reform consultants who were brought in to run the failing program).

Today we now hear about yet another example of the downside of having an Administration that is either unwilling or unable to handle the day-to-day responsibilities of running a complex organization like the government of the State of Connecticut.

A recent state audit provided a devastating assessment of the failures at the State Department of Public Health.

The situation is summarized in a press release that was sent out by the House Republicans entitled, “House Leader Cafero Blasts Health Department Over Audit Faulty Background Checks on Day Care Personnel, Missing Drugs, No Oversight.”

I use the House Republican’s verbiage, word for word, because it should send a shockwave through the entire Democratic Party and especially the Democrats who make up the Connecticut State Senate and Connecticut House of Representatives.

A consistent refrain here at Wait, What? has been to raise the question, what would “we Democrats” be saying if the table were turned and it was a Republican governor doing the things that  Malloy has been doing.

“We Democrats” would be calling that Governor out on those issues and demanding immediate action.

It may be painful for Democrats to hear, but Connecticut Democrats should paying far closer attention to press releases like this one.

The Connecticut House Republicans write:

“HARTFORD – House Republican Leader Larry Cafero today criticized the state Department of Health over an audit that shows holes in background check for daycare providers, missing drugs, lack of staff oversight and numerous other findings that raise questions over agency management.

“These troubling findings by the auditors raise serious questions about how this department is being run and whether it takes seriously its core mission to function as the State of Connecticut’s premier health agency,’’ Cafero said.  “These violations need to be addressed immediately.’’

One of the most troublesome cites concerned faults in background checks for child care facilities. The auditors called into question whether the department’s procedures may not turn up people not suited to working in the child care facilities due to lack of monitoring and follow-through in checking records.

“Child care providers and their employees may be operating without the required completed background checks. As a result, children in licensed child care facilities are at an increased risk of coming into contact with unsuitable individuals,’’ the report released today states.

The department agreed with the finding. The auditors came up with 17 recommendations that need to be addressed including:

  • DPH has not established a process to properly track prescription drug distribution and drugs, including those used to treat pain, have gone unaccounted for;
  • EMS providers have failed to submit required tracking and activity reports;
  • DPH should overhaul its contractor oversight procedures to ensure that the work is being performed and invoices are processed correctly;
  • Travel vouchers for employees have not been authenticated;
  • Compensation time for employees lacks oversight and questions arose over allowing employees to return to work following lengthy sick leaves.

Cafero said nine of the 17 citations are repeats of a previous audit and questioned why they had not been corrected.

“Some of these findings appear relatively benign but overall the picture being painted is a general lack of oversight on the part of management that needs to be fixed,’’ he said.”

In truth, the failure of leadership at the State Department of Education and the State Department of Health are the most visible parts of a much bigger iceberg.

Democrats need to take heed before it is too late to get the captain on to the bridge.

Democrats who oppose Democracy…

In this Orwellian world in which  we live, how do voters deal with candidates who run as Democrats but oppose democracy…

As we all know, democracy is traditionally defined as “a system of government by the whole population or all the eligible members of a state, typically through elected representatives.”

As the name implies, Democrats traditionally believe in the fundamental elements of democracy.

But in Bridgeport, Connecticut the Democratic endorsed slate of candidates that is running in next Tuesday’s Democratic Primary have made an extraordinary effort to do away with the very Board of Education that they are now seeking to serve upon.

(Wait, What?) No, really…

It was only a year ago that these same Democratic endorsed candidates were part of a record-breaking effort to eliminate Bridgeport’s democratically elected board of education.  Having lost that effort, the “Bridgeport Democratic Machine” is now trying to convince Bridgeport voters to elect candidates who worked so hard to eliminate the Board of Education..

Forget the fact that Mayor Bill Finch and the Bridgeport Democratic Party supported Malloy’s illegal takeover of the Bridgeport School System.

Forget the fact that Mayor Bill Finch’s campaign treasurer, Kenneth Moales, Jr. the bully turned Chairman of the Bridgeport Board of Education is systematically turning the Bridgeport Board of Education into the laughing stock of Connecticut.

Forget the fact that Mayor Bill Finch is Paul Vallas’ biggest supporter and that the City of Bridgeport has inappropriately and potentially illegally spent $50,000 to $100,000 representing Paul Vallas in his losing legal effort to remain Bridgeport’s superintendent of schools.

Forget the fact that Mayor Bill Finch and his education reform allies spent a record amount of money in their failed attempt to pass a charter change that would have eliminated Bridgeport’s elected board of education and replaced it with one appointed by him.

The situation facing Bridgeport’s voters in next Tuesday’s primary is the following;

According to their campaign pieces, “The endorsed team for the Bridgeport Board of Education will bring new leadership and a fresh voice for strengthening schools for our kids.”

New leadership and fresh voices?

Endorsed Candidate #1:  Reverend Simon Castillo is a long-time Finch ally who served as Chairman of the Residents for a Better Bridgeport Political Action Committee.  This was the political action committee that spent a record amount of money supporting Mayor Finch’s failed charter reform proposal TO DO AWAY with an elected Board of Education.

Simon Castillo spent countless hours trying to take away Bridgeport voter’s right to choose members of the Bridgeport Board of Education.  Now he wants their vote to be on that Board of Education.

Endorsed Candidate #2:  Brandon Clark is a teacher at Achievement First – Bridgeport and appeared in a number of the campaign brochures and videos that were paid for by the Residents for a Better Bridgeport Political Action Committee.

In essence, Brandon Clark served as a primary spokesperson in the campaign urging Bridgeport voters to support Mayor Finch’s failed charter reform proposal TO DO AWAY with an elected Board of Education.

Brandon Clark spent countless hours trying to take away Bridgeport voter’s right to choose members of the Bridgeport Board of Education.  Now he wants their vote to be on that Board of Education.

Furthermore, Clark’s present campaign pieces report that he has “worked in Bridgeport public schools for more than a decade.”  Of course, Achievement First – Bridgeport is a state charter school and is not part of the Bridgeport school system.  Clark either doesn’t know what schools make up the Bridgeport school system or he is purposely trying to mislead voters into thinking that he works in Bridgeport’s public schools.

Endorsed Candidate #3:  Katie Roach Bukovsky is the third member of the Democratic Party’s endorsed slate.  New to education issues” she reports that part of her expertise comes from the fact that she works for a private company that sells education resource materials and products to school systems.  Katie Roach Bukovsky is also the sister of Danny Roach, the long-time Black Rock District leader on the Bridgeport Democratic Town Committee.  As part of the Bridgeport Democratic establishment, Roach and the majority on the Democratic Town Committee spent countless hours trying TO TAKE AWAY Bridgeport voter’s right to choose members of the Bridgeport Board of Education.  Now Katie Roach Bukovsky she is part of the slate that is seeking voter’s support to be on that Board of Education.

Imagine, in Bridgeport, the endorsed Democratic candidates for the Board of Education are on record opposing democracy.

The Democrats who have spent so much time trying to eliminate the People’s right to elect members of the local board of education are now trying to get on that Bridgeport Board of Education AND are claiming that, as members of that Board they will “bring new leadership and a fresh voice for strengthening schools for our kids.”

As we are fond of saying on this blog, their approach to reality, the truth and democratic principles would make George Orwell proud.

GOP to Malloy: No Worries, we don’t want to win…

File this one under the headline; Connecticut Republicans reiterate dedication to snatching defeat out of the jaws of victory…

Faced with the reality that Governor Malloy has spent the last two years alienating just about everyone and every group that was part of the coalition that put him into the governor’s office, the Republicans could be facing an unprecedented opportunity to beat an incumbent governor.

It would take a history buff to recall when that last occurred in Connecticut.

So with that in mind, the Republican Party’s upcoming 35th annual Prescott Bush Awards Dinner provided the Connecticut Republicans with a special chance to showcase the type of leadership they’d bring to the state if Connecticut voters elected a Republican governor in 2014.

Given that reality and the opportunity to invite any person in the nation to serve as their keynote speaker, who did the Republicans turn to for their big annual gala event that is taking place next Monday night?

Scott Walker, the Governor of Wisconsin.

Call it colossal stupidity or a deep and abiding commitment to alienating the very voters that the Connecticut Republicans would need if they actually wanted to win the next, or any, gubernatorial election.

That’s right, the Connecticut Republicans chose Scott Walker, the wing-nut, tea-bagger, ultra-conservative, anti-teacher, anti-state employee, anti-union, pro-corporate education reformer to serve as their keynote speaker and the “face” of the biggest event the Connecticut Republicans hold each year.

The Governor Scott Walker who opposes abortion including in cases of rape and incest, supports abstinence-only sex education in public schools and opposes any state funding for services related to birth control and the testing or treatment of sexually transmitted diseases.

The Governor Scott Walker who supported Wisconsin’s Constitutional ban on same-sex marriages and, as governor, tried to undo the state’s domestic partner registry because it created, “a legal status identical or substantially similar to that of marriage for unmarried individuals.”

The Governor Scott Walker who returned $37.6 million in federal funds meant to set up a health exchange in Wisconsin because he thought it was related to President Obama’s Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.  Walker also rejected $11 million in federal funding to improve the state’s Medicaid enrollment system because he claimed it would  make it easier for the poor to get healthcare.

The Governor Scott Walker who was part of the right-wing effort to suppress voter participation by requiring that only government-issued IDs could be used before a person was allowed to vote.

And the list goes on…

Imagine the statement the Connecticut Republicans are making to the Connecticut voters who are yearning for new and innovative leadership…

The Connecticut Republican Party could have chosen anyone in the nation to showcase their ideals and principles and they chose Scott Walker.

The Connecticut Republicans have proven, yet again, their commitment to failure and have made the case, even more clearly, that if we are going to get the change in leadership our state needs and deserves it will have to come from a candidate that is running separately from the state’s two existing political establishments.


Memo to Connecticut Democrats (ONLY); All others should skip this post

[Now that it is just us Democrats here; let’s take a moment to talk politics].

There were seven new Democratic Governors elected in the United States in 2010.  Today, when it comes to measuring each governor’s support from members of their own party;

One new Democratic governor’s job performance rating among Democrats is +80 percent

Two new Democratic governors are about +65 percent

Two new Democratic governors about are about +55 percent

One new Democratic governor one is at +45 percent

And then, according to the last Quinnipiac poll, one new Democratic governor is at a breathtakingly low +19 percent.

That is right – there is a Democratic governor whose support among his own party is only a positive 19 percent.  Less than one-quarter of the support the most popular new Democratic governor has….and that lowest in the nation governor is Dannel Malloy.

The “Education Reform” Debate:

Governor Malloy and the proponents of his “education reform” bill often claim that Connecticut’s legislators should pass Malloy’s version of Senate Bill #24 because “the voters support education reform” and “every other state is doing it.”

In his state of the state speech, Malloy talked about these reforms being adopted in 35 other states.  ConnCAN’s CEO, Patrick Riccards, likes to say that “Connecticut’s reform bill is mild compared to that in other states.”

As we now know, both statements are false.

But more importantly, we are taught early in life that just because “everyone else is doing it” doesn’t mean we should and as Democrats, we believe that public policy should be driven by doing the right thing rather than what is politically expedient according to public opinion polls. (Although, truth be told, it isn’t even accurate to claim that Connecticut voters “support” these education reforms.  They support having better schools but are mixed on some of the individual proposals.)

In any case, while we don’t believe in governance by polling, we Democrats do recognize the importance of representing our constituents, especially those who took the time to go to the polls to cast their votes for our candidates.  After all, that is why America is called a ”representative democracy.”

In Connecticut, Democrats win when we have strong support from our political base and do fairly well among unaffiliated voters.  Since Democrats outnumber Republicans by more than a 2-1 margin at the statewide level, when Democrats receive overwhelming support from Democratic voters, our candidates can actually win with a minority of unaffiliated voters.  Of course at the congressional and legislative level, in order to be successful, candidates must get a big Democratic vote and the majority of unaffiliated voters in order to be victorious.

The gubernatorial election of 2010 was a perfect example.  Dan Malloy won that election with just 49 percent of the popular vote.  According to the last Quinnipiac Poll, released just hours before the election, 88 percent of Democrats intended to vote for Dan Malloy, 9 percent of Democrats intended to vote for Tom Foley and only 3 percent were undecided or said that they would vote for someone else.

That 88 percent, along with a minority of unaffiliated voters, gave the Democrats control of the governor’s office after 20 years.

Now here we are – eighteen months later.

One of the most traditional ways to understand voter attitudes is to measure an elected official’s “job-performance” rating.  While job performance is not a perfectly predictor of how people will vote in the future, it is a fairly good indicator of the overall level of support among various sub-constituencies such as party affiliation.

Last week, Quinnipiac University released a new poll revealing that 37 percent of all Connecticut voters’ approved of the way Governor Malloy is handling his job, 44 percent disapprove of his job performance and 19 percent are undecided or neither approve or disapprove of the way he is conducting his job as governor.

Quite frankly, it is far too early to worry too much about the overall numbers; besides, we know that the key measure is where Democrats stand, since in the end, a strong Democratic base is the fundamental building block to a successful election.

To date, Governor Malloy’s strategy has often been to confront and attack key constituencies within his own party.  Last year Governor Malloy proposed record budget cuts, including cuts to services that are traditionally supported by Democrats.  He also entered into a long and confrontational battle with our state employees.

This year, under the guise of “education reform,” Malloy has proposed the most anti-teacher, anti-union “education reform” bill of any Democratic governor in the nation.

In the forty years since public employees won the right to collectively bargain, no Connecticut governor; Democrat, Republican or Independent has ever proposed that collective bargaining be banned for a group of public employees.  But that is exactly what Governor Malloy has done.

The Governor’s job performance rating is a measurement of the impact his confrontational approach has had with key constituencies within the Democratic Party.

The following chart indicates how Connecticut Democratic voters rate Governor Malloy’s job performance.  In politics we use a statistic that measures the rate of approval compared to the rate of disapproval – we call that the overall positive or negative rating of an individual (i.e. +/-). The higher the positive rating the better the candidate or elected officials is doing.

Malloy Job Approval Democratic Voters



Don’t Know


March 2011





June 2011





September 2011





March 2012





April 2012






Except for a bounce in March 2012, what is particularly noteworthy is Governor Malloy’s job performance rating, among Democrats, has been trending dramatically downward since the day he took office.

Malloy versus other new Democratic Governors;

In addition, what has been happening with Governor Malloy becomes even more pronounced when one looks at where Malloy stands against the other new Democratic governors around the nation. (There were seven new Democratic governors in the Class of 2011).  All data here are from recent, independent public opinion surveys.

Job Approval



Don’t Know


Brown (CA)





Cuomo (NY)





Dayton (MN)





Hickenlooper (CO)





Kitzhaber (OR)





Shumlin (VT)






Shocking is rather an understatement.

In Minnesota, Governor Dayton just vetoed an “education reform” bill that was being pushed by 50CAN, the national outgrowth of ConnCAN and formed by the same people who founded Achievement First.  Even before vetoing that bill, Dayton’s support among Minnesota Democrats was +80 percent compared to Malloy’s + 19 percent among Democrats.

Again, as noted above, we Democrats do not lead by poll results but we also have a fundamental duty to look at whether we are successfully representing the people who put us in office.

It is time to have an honest discussion about what happens when a governor spends his time confronting and alienating some of the most basic elements of our party.

Wait, What? I’m wallowing in the 70s?: A Response to Mr. Scully’s Hartford Courant Commentary Piece

(Also posted on Pelto’s Point at the New Haven Advocate)

In this weekend’s Hartford Courant, Patrick Scully, a media consultant, political blogger and former communications director for the Connecticut Senate Democrats wrote that I and other Governor Malloy critics are “hopelessly disconnected from the average Connecticut citizen and continue to wallow in the failed, far-left, now-fringe policies of 1970s.”

Mr. Scully’s piece can be found at:  http://www.courant.com/news/opinion/hc-op-scully-democrats-labor-malloy-f20110807,0,1171634.story

Scully’s premise is that  “Good Democrats” support Dan Malloy that “Good Democrats” recognize that the Governor’s decision to shred the safety net and implement massive layoffs of state employees are actually the employees fault and that Malloy should not be held responsible for the damage these cuts and layoffs will be doing to Connecticut.

To back up his observation, Scully goes on to proclaim that supporting Connecticut’s public employees at this time is similar to supporting George McGovern and that “George McGovern is no longer relevant, nor are his policies” and that “today’s Democrats [himself included] are in the camp of John F. Kennedy, Bill Clinton Barak Obama and, yes, Dan Malloy.”

My response is rather long, but I hope you’ll take the time to read it in its entirety.

To start, readers who want to better understand why I’m so disappointed with Governor Malloy are welcome to read some of my blog posts at Wait, What? [http://jonpelto.wordpress.com/] where I’ve consistently tried to provide some perspective on what is going on in Hartford and articulate why I believe that Dan Malloy has, too often, pursued a path that has violated some of the fundamental principles and values we Democrats hold dear.

In addition to his poor handling of the state employee concession issue, I’ve been particularly critical of his tax policy that coddled the super-rich at the expense of the middle class, his decision to make the deepest cuts in state history to our public colleges and universities and his participation in undermining Connecticut’s landmark campaign finance law.

But what really intrigues me about Mr. Scully’s commentary piece is his conclusion that those of us who have criticized Governor Malloy are followers of failed politicians and failed policies of a bygone era.

It is that issue I’d like to address in more detail.

I’m not sure how old Mr. Scully is but we may have to excuse him for his lack of knowledge about George McGovern, his lack of understanding about the contributions McGovern made to the Democratic Party and our country or the connections between JFK, Bill Clinton and George McGovern.

In addition, I don’t want to let the irony go unmentioned – but the fact is – George McGovern’s 1972 campaign for president was the first campaign I was truly and deeply involved in.  True I was only 11 at the time but it was in that campaign that I heard the call to a life of politics and political action.  I not only traveled to hear and meet the candidate but I spent innumerable hours in the fall of 1972 at the Mansfield Democratic Party headquarters making phone calls.  If I recall correctly my mother even managed to get the school bus to stop at HQ after school.  My love/hate relationship with Persuasion, ID and GOTV calling began with that campaign experience (not to mention my understanding of the ins and outs of political organizing).

But I’m getting ahead of myself. Let’s start, as the saying goes, at the beginning.

When calling someone a name, it is important to understand the actual meaning of the words you are hurling.  Scully calls me (and other Malloy critics) “McGovernites” almost as if he was calling us Commies or Pinkos.

While it is true that George McGovern is best known today for his stunning 1972 defeat, he was not only an outspoken opponent to the Vietnam War and the Military-Industrial Complex but he used his career to make a signficant contribution to a more progressive America.

A decorated veteran in WWII (he flew bombers over Nazi Germany), McGovern returned to South Dakota after the War to pursue a college teaching career.

After hearing Adlai Stevenson’s presidential nominating speech in 1952 he spent the fall helping the Stevenson for President effort.

Although Stevenson’s campaign was unsuccessful, McGovern apparently realized that it was through political action that he could have the impact he desired so he shifted to a career in politics and a life dedicated to furthering, dare I say, a liberal agenda.

Following the Stevenson defeat, he left teaching to become the executive secretary of the South Dakota Democratic Party in 1953.  For the next few years McGovern worked to help build the state Party’s operation including (interestingly) building what has been called one of the first centralized voter files in the United States.  In his first election with the state Party the Democrats won 25 legislative seats, giving them 27 seats instead of the 2 that they had previously controlled in the South Dakota Legislature.

The national party was so impressed with the work he was doing that they added him to the DNC’s committee on political organizing.

In the next election cycle, McGovern ran for South Dakota’s 1st Congressional District. Using his hand-made voter file and a loan of $5,000 McGovern went on to beat a four-term incumbent.

Late in the campaign the Republicans tried to derail McGovern’s campaign by suggesting that he was a Communist.  Why a Communist?  Because it was 1954 and he was in favor of allowing China to join the United Nations and had previously supported the populist and socialist politician Henry Wallace.

As a Congressman, McGovern focused on supporting American farmers and was the driving force behind the United States’ role in using surplus crops to help feed the world.

The powerful chairman of the Agriculture Committees once said “I cannot recall a single member of Congress who has fought more vigorously or intelligently for American farmers than Congressman McGovern.”

Following an unsuccessful run for the US Senate in 1960, newly elected President John F. Kennedy picked McGovern to serve as a Special Assistant to the President and the nation’s first director of Kennedy’s Food for Peace Program.

In that role, McGovern was instrumental in pushing the United Nations to create the World Food Program.  The UN’s Food Program has gone on to become the largest and most successful hunger and humanitarian effort in history.

As an aside, McGovern’s work to reduce world hunger continued long after he left elective office.  In fact, in 2001 he was named the UN Global Ambassador on World Hunger by the World Food Program, the entity that he had helped create 40 years earlier.

In 1962, McGovern left the Kennedy Administration and returned to South Dakota to run again for the US Senate.  This time he won by 597 votes.

McGovern returned to Congress and continued his efforts to help farmers and fight hunger, both here at home and around the world.

His legislative legacy includes the creation of the food stamp program and the creation of nutritional guidelines for Americans.

A Congressional investigation he led produced the “McGovern Report” which recommended, among other things, that “Americans eat less fat, less cholesterol, less refined and processed sugars, and more complex carbohydrates and fiber.”  Little by little those recommendations have been adopted over the past 45 years – often over the objections of the food industry.

And during all of those years he continued to work on world hunger.  His 1964 book entitled War Against Want: America’s Food for Peace Program was part of his broader and eventually successful effort to dramatically expand the Food for Peace Program.

From the very beginning of his Senate career George McGovern was also a leader in the effort to get the Defense Budget in check.

In his freshman term as a Senator he proposed reducing the $53 billion defense budget by 10%. The next year he became the first member of Congress to speak out against the US role in Vietnam.

As the 1960s progressed, his role within the Democratic Party continued to rise.

Following the disastrous 1968 Democratic Convention, McGovern Co-chaired a the commission charged with restructuring the Democratic Party’s presidential nominating process.  The McGovern-Fraser Commission shifted the Democratic Party from one dominated by party elite to one based on caucuses and
primaries.  The nominating process that we have today, the one that allowed Bill Clinton and Barak Obama to win the Democratic nomination for president is the direct result of McGovern’s rule changes.

But his standing and role within the Democratic Party went far beyond writing those reforms.

In 1968, South Dakota’s Democratic Primary was held on the same day as California’s.  Robert Kennedy won the South Dakota primary and called McGovern moments before he headed downstairs to give his famous California acceptance speech.  A few minutes later Kennedy was shot to death as he exited that California hotel.

Following the assassination, key Kennedy aides asked McGovern to announce for the Democratic nomination and promised the support of Kennedy’s delegates.  Robert Kennedy’s team did not like Humphrey and resented that fact that Gene McCarthy might benefit from Kennedy’s assassination.  However, McGovern held off and instead waited for Ted Kennedy to make a decision about whether he was going to run.  By the time McGovern did announce it was too late and Hubert Humphrey went on to win the nomination.

McGovern returned to Washington and continued his effort to end the war.  That strategy took him to Boston in October 1969 where he spoke to 100,000 and then on to Washington where he helped lead the 350,000 strong anti-war march and rally at the Washington Monument.

McGovern’s next strategy was to push a Congressional Resolution that would end the war by cutting off all funding for the war effort.

When the proponents of the resolution couldn’t get sufficient media coverage for the effort McGovern took out a second mortgage on his home to pay for a half-hour nationally televised discussion about the resolution.

That in turn brought in over $500,000 and they used those funds to pay for a broader public education campaign.

By the time the resolution came up for a vote, public opinion polls showed that a majority of American’s supported McGovern’s resolution and his approach to ending the war.

Although the resolution was defeated following an intensive lobbying effort by the Nixon White House, George McGovern’s speech on the floor of the Senate had a profound impact on the national debate.

Sadly, his words then are as meaningful, powerful and timely today. McGovern said;

“Every Senator in this chamber is partly responsible for sending 50,000 young Americans to an early grave. This chamber reeks of blood. Every Senator here is partly responsible for that human wreckage at Walter Reed and Bethesda Naval and all across our land – young men without legs, or arms, or genitals, or faces or hopes. There are not very many of these blasted and broken boys who think this war is a glorious adventure. Do not talk to them about bugging out, or national honor or courage. It does not take any courage at all for a congressman, or a senator, or a president to wrap himself in the flag and say we are staying in Vietnam, because it is not our blood that is being shed. But we are responsible for those young men and their lives and their hopes. And if we do not end this damnable war those young men will someday curse us for our pitiful willingness to let the Executive carry the burden that the Constitution
places on us.”

McGovern’s anti-war stance propelled him even further into the national scene.  By 1973 he was putting together a campaign for President. Gary Hart, who went on to become a United States Senator from Colorado, served as McGovern’s campaign manager and the two of them helped design the modern grass-roots form of campaigning that we utilize today.  It was Gary Hart who is credited with using “social networking” in a more coordinated way although he called it the strategy of using people’s “concentric circles”.

In an interesting twist, Bill Clinton managed McGovern’s campaign in Texas. (Although I’m not sure that fact ever made Clinton’s presidential campaign bio).

Despite losing several key southern primaries to George Wallace, McGovern won enough delegates to get the Democratic nomination.

McGovern’s platform included a 37% reduction in defense spending and a massive welfare reform plan that would later become known as the Earned Income Tax Credit, a mechanism to support low-income working Americans and provide an incentive for people to work rather than rely on welfare.

The EITC was finally adopted under Presidents Ford, Reagan and Clinton.  And, in the small world department, was one of Governor Malloy’s better initiatives this past year.  Although watered down at the end, the Connecticut’s General Assembly finally adopted an EITC for Connecticut this year.

But, in the end, as with Adlai Stevenson before him, great ideas were not enough to propel McGovern to victory.

With the power of the presidency behind him, along with a variety of illegal activities that would eventually lead to Nixon’s resignation, the incumbent president won the 1972 election in a landslide.

McGovern returned to the Senate but never regained the prominence he once had.

And to end this little story, in 1980, George McGovern was one of the liberal senators targeted by the National Conservative Political Action Committee.  Following a campaign which focused primarily on McGovern’s pro-choice record, George McGovern went down to defeat in the Reagan landslide.

So back to the present.

I appreciate Mr. Scully’s right to criticize me and others for our criticism of Dan Malloy and I certainly understand his concern that now is not the time to “wallow in the failed, far-left, now-fringe policies of 1970s.”

But that said, I’m pretty sure that fighting against a senseless war, preserving programs like food stamps, revamping the tax structure to support not punish working families and working to end hunger here and abroad don’t count as “failed, far-left, now fringe policies”.

I don’t doubt that there are “Good Democrats” who support both President Obama and Governor Malloy.  I too consider myself a “Good Democrat” and in that capacity I believe we have an obligation to speak out when it appears that either of them have stumbled from the path that got them elected – or even more importantly – are failing to implement the most fundamental principles and values that we Democrats stand for.

Now We Know – Malloy Calls for Taking Away Fundamental Collective Bargaining Rights

Malloy slams knife into the back of Democratic Party – follows Wisconsin – with No hearing, No negotiations, No nothing:

As CTMirror and others are reporting, Governor Malloy is informing Legislative Democrats that he wants a new law “changing the way state employee pensions are calculated and unilaterally attempting to reduce employee sick days while freezing longevity payments.

Even if passed, the new law on pensions would not have any impact until the state’s collective bargaining agreement on health and retirement benefits ends in 2017 and even then it would be a matter for collective bargaining.  The reduction in sick days and longevity would take place as present union contracts end – but again – would be a matter for collective bargaining.

So why do this now?

Did he simply lie when he said he supported collective bargaining?

Is he such a bully that he can’t control himself?

Does he want to destroy Connecticut’s Democratic Party?

Roy Occhigrosso explains to the CTMirror that “None of this is contradictory” and that Malloy remains a “strong supporter” of the rights of employees to collectively bargain.”

Meanwhile, there is no word from Nancy Wyman, Malloy’s Lt. Governor, who has devoted much of her public life to helping support Connecticut’s public employees and was added to the Malloy ticket, in part, to shore up support from union members.

My response:

I’ve said it before; will say it again – if a Republican proposed these things we’d be in the streets calling for impeachment.

This is no longer an issue in which reasonable people can disagree.

Dan Malloy has defaulted on his ability to lead by walking away from the fundamental principles and beliefs of the Democratic Party.

His actions are doing tremendous damage to our government, our priorities and to the very people who elected him.

Now will Connecticut’s other Democratic elected officials remain silent?

Flash Back – Wisconsin is not Connecticut, Right?

The date was March 2, 2011:  Day 1 of the Malloy/State Employee negotiations.


“But before we think that Connecticut and Wisconsin have nothing in common when it comes to the rights of workers, let us remember that efforts to undercut unions and the rights of employees to join together for their common good come in a variety of forms.

Like bullying, anti-union efforts can be overt, covert or both.

Bullying occurs when a “person intentionally inflicts injury or discomfort upon another person, through physical contact, through words or in other ways”.  It is behavior that seeks to intimidate, offend, denigrate or humiliate a person or group of persons.

As we know, now more than ever, bullying is a form of abuse that is often perpetrated on another as a way to intimidate someone to take some particular action.

Governor Malloy’s entire budget is based on state employees agreeing to make $2 billion dollars in wage and benefit concessions.

Anyone familiar with Connecticut’s state budget knows it is a number that literally cannot be achieved and the Governor purposely put out a number that is designed to fail.

Disguised as shared sacrifice, the Governor’s proposal is scapegoating of the worst kind since he has repeatedly connected his demands to the state employees with the warning that if the state employees fail to provide $1 billion in annual savings, he will be forced to shred the safety net and lay-off thousands of employees at a time the unemployment rate makes it clear that many of those laid off will not be able to find jobs.

Malloy has been very clear. If state employees don’t come up with a billion dollars in concessions – this year – the most vulnerable and needy people among us will be hurt and the fault will lie squarely with the state employees and no one else.

Even today, as the Malloy Administration and the state employee unions prepare to officially sit down for the first time, Malloy’s chief political advisor said that the “governor hopes and expects the talks to be productive and will produce the money that’s necessary to help balance the budget,”

The facts could not be clearer.

Saying that his budget is balanced when he knows it is not and then setting up Connecticut’s state employees to take the fall is more than a gimmick, it is nothing short of a mean-spirited form of bullying.

The definition of bullying is clear.  A person or group is being bullied when “exposed, repeatedly and over time, to actions that seek to intimidate, offend, denigrate or humiliate.

Let’s face it, today the Connecticut’s Public Employee Unions will be sitting down with representatives of an Administration that would be expelled from school or fired from the workplace for the intentional bullying that they have perpetrated.


Flash Forward:  May 10, 2011…. Now let’s ask the question again, is Connecticut really that different from Wisconsin?

Last Minute Deal on Budget: 3 top reasons to vote no remain unaddresssed

(cross-posted from Pelto’s Point at the New Haven Advocate)

Governor Malloy, Senate President Williams and Speaker Donovan cleared the way for passage of Malloy’s proposed budget this morning after pulling the language that would have destroyed Connecticut’s campaign finance system and agreeing that the Legislature will have to vote on any additional cuts if the state employees don’t come up with $2 billion dollars (not making that change would have meant the budget was an unconstitutional transfer or power to the Executive Branch).

However, the new agreement completely fails to address the TOP THREE REASONS Democratic Legislators should vote no and those are:

(1) State employees are not the enemy.  This is the most anti-state employee budget in modern history.  $2 Billion in employee concessions is not achievable leaving this budget a half a billion or more out of balance.  With or without concessions this budget includes significant layoffs.  Voting for a budget that lays people off and reduces services without knowing where those cuts will occur means legislators are failing to fulfill their responsibilities.

(2)   This budget coddles the super rich.  Although $300 of the $500 property tax credit is reinstated, this tax plan still places an unfair burden on Connecticut’s middle class while not requiring Connecticut’s wealth pay their fair share.  With the extension of the Bush Tax Cuts the richest 1% will pocket an extra $156,000 a year while this budget only requires someone making $2 million a year to  pay $11,900 more.

(3)  This budget makes the deepest cuts in history to Connecticut’s colleges and universities.  At the very moment Connecticut should be strengthen its workforce, this budget takes us exactly in the wrong direction.

Finally, good that they are also removing Malloy’s plan to raise the gas tax by 3 cents but they are not capping the gross receipts tax which means the state of Connecticut will continue to be gouger #2 behind the oil companies when it comes to inflating the price of gasoline.

The Governor and Legislature have not completed their work.  They need to go back and fix this budget or they will be saddling Connecticut with a budget that does not move our state forward in the right direction.

As Governor and Legislative Leaders Rush Vote – 5 Reasons Legislators Must Vote No

(cross-posted from Pelto’s Point at the New Haven Advocate)

The Connecticut State Senate is scheduled to vote on the State Budget today, the House of Representatives tomorrow.

The General Assembly should not be voting on this proposed budget.  If a vote is taken, Legislators should vote no and force the changes that are needed to ensure Connecticut has a fair, honest and legal budget.

Here are just 5 reasons Legislators Must Vote NO…

(1) State employees are not the enemy.  This is the most anti-state employee budget in modern history.  $2 Billion in employee concessions is not achievable leaving this budget a half a billion or more out of balance.  With or without concessions this budget includes significant layoffs.  Voting for a budget that lays people off and reduces services without knowing where those cuts will occur means legislators are failing to fulfill their responsibilities.

(2)   This budget coddles the super rich.  Although $300 of the $500 property tax credit is reinstated, this tax plan still places an unfair burden on Connecticut’s middle class while not requiring Connecticut’s wealth pay their fair share.  With the extension of the Bush Tax Cuts the richest 1% will pocket an extra $156,000 a year while this budget only requires someone making $2 million a year to  pay $11,900 more.

(3)  This budget makes the deepest cuts in history to Connecticut’s colleges and universities.  At the very moment Connecticut should be strengthen its workforce, this budget takes us exactly in the wrong direction.

(4)   This budget destroys Connecticut’s best in the nation campaign finance plan.  While the Governor and Legislative leaders deny any knowledge as to how the language got into the budget deal , the budget document would undo all the work and progress that has been made toward strengthening our democracy and reducing the influence of special interests.

(5)   It is illegal to vote on this budget.  With the employee concession issue unresolved, revenues and expenditures do not match as required by the Connecticut Constitution.  In addition, the proposed solution, simply giving the Governor the authority to make any and all cuts necessary to balance the budget is an illegal, unconstitutional and immoral delegation of duty.

The Governor and Legislature have not completed their work.  They need to go back and fix this budget or they will be saddling Connecticut with a budget that does not move our state forward in the right direction.