Tuesday, May 17, 2005

DeStefano: Too Much?

New Haven Mayor Alone Among Dems in Launching Criticisms

Just after the announcement that the Groton Sub Base was on the recommended closure list, Connecticut's political leaders held a press conference. Governor Rell took the stage with both Democratic senators, as well as congressmen/women from both parties. The visual spoke for itself: we're going to work together to try to save the base.

Then, later that day, John DeStefano released this:

Connecticut workers have a right to ask: Where has Governor Rell been? The work required by our political leaders to prevent today’s announcement was work that should have been done over the past year. Sadly, until recent weeks, she has refused to travel to Washington to lobby on behalf of Connecticut’s working men and women. Now she says she is “shocked” at the Pentagon’s decision..

Governor Rell may be “shocked” at today’s announcement, but what’s really shocking is the lack of leadership that results in the loss of tens of thousands of Connecticut jobs. (link)

I'm not sure whether this is ballsy or just divisive and petty. I'm also not sure if what he said is a legitimate complaint. It wasn't smart of Rell to miss the conference, but was it that vital? After all, the governors of New Jersey and Maine were at the conference, and they got screwed, too.

But let's say that it is legitimate to connect the loss of the base with skipping the conference. Is now the right time to levy this kind of accusation? Other Democrats are jumping on board the bipartisan bandwagon:

"Look, I think the governor has a done a tremendous job to this point. I can't comment on what other candidates say," [U.S. Rep. John] Larson [D-1] said. "That's up to them to choose and pick their words. But I do think the governor is doing the very best job that she can. We're going to work alongside of her to try to make this happen." (Keating)

This is the time to stand together, putting the best interests of all the people of Connecticut first. Towards that end, I have called the Governor and offered her my assistance, and those of my advisors, in fighting to keep the many important military installations open. The ongoing operation of these bases and the jobs they provide is vital to the economic stability of our great State. --Dan Malloy, from his website (.pdf file).

And so on. I haven't heard of a single other Democrat who has come out taking shots at the Republicans over this. Joe Courtney, for example, is running against Rob Simmons but has not attacked him for his failure to keep the base of the list in the first place.

Yet, one has to admire DeStefano's actions. It's a gutsy, bold move, and there may be a small measure of truth to his accusation. He's proving that he's not afraid to come right after Rell on even the most sensitive of issues.

Let's see if it pays off for him.

Source
Keating, Christopher and Mark Pazniokas. "Parties Unite Against Closing." Hartford Courant 17 May 2005.

Update:
There is a stirring reponse to this on the DeStefano campaign site.

21 comments:

ctkeith said...

Heh,

Lets See, We got Larson and Malloy ,2 typical DLC members, supporting a republican Gov. who did absolutely no lobbying to save the base and one guy who is willing to tell the truth.

Maybe Malloy better start watching some of the poker tourneys on TV to learn how to play.

As for Lieberman its seems the only thing he got from that kiss was a herpes sore in the shape of a submarine.

Anonymous said...

You say that the ME and NJ got screwed despite the fact that their governors "showed up." This may be true, but it's also important to recognize that Governors Cody and Baldacci are both Democrats. Shouldn't a Republican governor have been able to use some of her sway with her party in power in Washington? I'm tired of these "northeastern Republicans" who just can't deliver. Good for Mayor DeStefano for speaking out!

kmick said...

Seems to me DeStefano is the only Democrat willing to call it like it is - CT has to stop just reacting and recognize we are one of the very last states in job growth...He's saying the Governor and the state should have a job growth plan in place all along and not be stuck in a position where something tragic like this totally turns the state upside down. It's about planning to grow and retain jobs consistently, not as a reaction.

Anonymous said...

Remember what happened when Democrats had not backbone and stood by George Bush? If CT Democrats think they can win back the governorship by patting Gov. Rell on the back, it's just plain foolishness. John Destefano may be the only one who can win for this very reason. WAKE UP CONNECTICUT DEMOCRATS!

Genghis Conn said...

Anonymous... hang on.
Er, Anonymous 1?,

This ties in to what you said, but I don't think Rell has any pull at all with her own party in Washington. She has about as much influence as Lincoln Chaffee or Chris Shays, which is to say just about none.

Apparently we should add Rob Simmons to that list. Despite his campaign stance that he was the only one who could keep the base open... there it is in black and white, on the list.

Northeastern moderate Republicans are starting to understand that they might as well be a different party, for all that the national GOP cares about them.

UConn'04 said...

The question isn't what type of influence that Rell had - or if her attempts would have worked. In life showing up is half the battle. Whose to say if an attempt by Rell would have worked -honnestly, who knows - what I do know is that if you don't put forth an effort you shouldn't cry when things don't go your way. Heres to Mayor John for calling things as he sees them.

Indian2Nighthawk said...

I am saddened that more leaders aren't attacking Rell. Do we have no expectation for accountability? I realize that thus far Rell has been bulletproof. Rowland's side kick, no problem. Done nothing to help the state's economy, don't worry about it. But at some point we need to stand up and say, "I expect more!" I expect elected officials to represent me, to stand up for me, to stand up for everyone.

So far I haven't seen it and DeStefano standing up and saying that Rell has failed IS what I expect from a strong leader!

Cheers to you DeStefano!

Anonymous said...

I think Destefano is right. Did Rell even call the White House to lobby for Groton? Does she lack the sophistication to reach out to Washington? CT has to stop being in the position of defending itself and start acting offensively. If she is incapable of stepping up, then November 2006 can't come fast enough.

You would think that Sikorsky losing the contract earlier this year would have been a wake up call to CT to get out our act together and lobby to keep the jobs that we have in CT. Instead, Rell hit the snooze button. Maybe Larson and Malloy agree with Rell that its ok to put jobs in CT on the line. If Malloy is so into "working together" with Rell, then I suggest he run for State Rep instead of Governor.

I don't know much about Destefano but he has certainly gotten my attention with his statement and possibly my vote. Someone needs to say what should be on everyone's mind--Where was Rell when we needed her?

stomv said...

I appreciate DeStefano's cajones, but I think its a bit disingenuous on his part to suggest that (a) because she hasn't travelled to DC, she hasn't lobbied, or that (b) any amount of lobbying, either in person or using modern communication techonology would have made a whit of difference.

I want a Democrat in the state house, and I'm not a big fan of elected CT-D's reaching out in bipartisanship in a blatant attempt to use Rell's current popularity for their own gain. But I don't believe that any governor -- GOP or Dem -- would have been able to save that base now. Perhaps some work on the part of the last few governors to keep the base relevant (double its use as homeland security, etc) might have made a difference.

Rell couldn't have saved Groton's base. Attack her on the issues, don't make new ones up.

DeanFan84 said...

Thumbs down to CT's DLC Dem contigent of Lieberman, Larson and Malloy for once again providing "bi-partisan" cover to the Republicans.

The sole reason to vote for Rob Simmons-R, was that he alone could save the sub base. He is now with his head near the guillotine, and what do the DLC'ers do? Give him a big hug.

P.S. It is unimaginable to me that Rell waited for the report to come out before addressing this head on. How many of us in CT knew that this was coming down the pike? Not that money. Perhaps if Rell hadn't allowed the state to get blind-sided on this, collectively we might have forestalled it. Now it is too late, and the only thing to be negotiated is a few meager hand-outs as the axe falls.

ctjga said...

DeStefano is right to point out the failure of the Rell Administration to deliver on jobs for the state. Our growth is sluggish, and Rell keeps flip-flopping investing in new research investment and higher-ed affordability. And she has shown no vision on transportation. DeStefano has identified new policy directions on these areas. Rell won't do anything helpful that could seem controversial because she would rather sit on her nice poll numbers and coast. I don't know why the other Democrats think they have to play nice...folks like Simmons run on a platform of having a relationship with governing Republicans. Why tolerate his flip-flopping on Social Security if he can't even deliver the base?

Leonardo said...

Strangely missing form all of the political huffing and puffing is "why" the base was closed. No one seems to consider, even for a political second, that it has passed its usefulness to the military. The same voices that decry the economic impact of its closing are probably also pleading for domestic programs instead of military spending. Well how can Washington cut back on military spending without cutbacks that affect defense-related jobs?

How about asking questions first--like why Groton is considered irrelevant to a strong US military--before attacking the governor and any other easy target? At least that would offer some insights into the decision that might be used to argue the case to keep it open.

Anonymous said...

I'm no fan of Rell, but DeStefano's comments were a cheap and ignorant shot. In 1993 when the Navy suggested closing the base the first time, John Markowicz and others found internal Navy documents supporting the base and finding the Groton location near Electric Boat and having a more efficient port for submarines than Norfolk, which continues to have too many competing vessels for the existing space. Both Dodd and Lieberman had been through that review and the internal Navy debates over submarine bases, construction, repair and homeporting. Allowing Electric Boat's repair work to be moved to Newport News or Portsmouth crippled that 1993 Navy finding in support of the Base. Lieberman's position on Armed Services, where protecting Groton should have been job 1 after 1993, makes the finding even more onerous. It's a pity DeStefano did'nt bother to do his homework or even pick up the telephone to speak to those, like John Markowicz, who are still now trying to maintain the base.

Anonymous said...

Destefano was on the money with his assessment of Rell. Leadership is not about sitting around waiting for a crisis - it's about being proactive and having vision. Even Simmons seemed to be focused and working hard on this issue (obviously to no avail) for the past several months, while Rell has slept.

The bottom line is Rell's lack of leadership, vision, pull (you name it) is costing CT TENS OF THOUSANDS of jobs. It doesn't have to be this way, and I'm glad someone pointed it out.

ctkeith said...

hey anonymous,

Destefano isn't the Governor YET and it wasn't his job to pick up the phone and call anyone.That was Rells job and she failed miserably.

As far as Lieberman goes I think most realize he's useless.

Anonymous said...

Hey ctkeith

Rell has been is office less than a year, so if Groton is taken off the list, does Rell get the credit? Bush has given her a great issue, saving the base. This is a part of the State where she is an unknown. She'll be a regular feature leading the State effort in the New London and Norwich papers, it will only help her effort to get elected.

ctkeith said...

Anon,

Maybe you've forgotten which part of the Republican Party is in control of these things.Heres a little something to show you just how stupid Rell is.

CONNECTICUT: A Rell-evant Little Dustup

A well-informed Hotline source in CT tells us there is a split between the state GOP and Gov. Jodi Rell (R) about who should keynote the state's Prescott Bush GOP fundraising dinner slated for next month. The new CT GOP Chair, William Hamzy, invited Sen. George Allen (R) to be the main attraction. And Allen's office confirms to us, it's on the schedule. But apparently when Rell got word of the Allen invite, "she nixed it." According to our CT source, Allen is "too conservative for our model moderate." And apparently the CT GOP is trying to withdraw the invite if they can secure MA Gov. Mitt Romney "to step in." As our CT source notes, Romney's people are "delighted to have scored a minor victory over a possible rival, anything to erase memories" of the National Journal Insiders Poll that gave Allen frontrunner status among DC and Cong. insiders. Still, word from a Romney source is that this is not on their schedule at this time (Hotline reporting, 5/11).

Anonymous said...

ctkeith "Everyone new the base was going to be on this list.It was on the list in 1993 and should have been closed then.It would have been much less painful if the closure had happened during the 90s with the economy we had then but politics saved it."

DeStefano's comment failed to reflect this turth. He's a hack.

Anonymous said...

DeStefano's point was larger than the viability of the base or of a defense economy. It's about the lack of job growth because of a weak economic policy coming from the Rowland/Rell administrations. And it's about the lack of creativity in advocating the state's interests.

I don't think DeStefano would have said "just keep the base open." I think we would ask the U.S. military, "What can Connecticut do to make this a valuable site?" Perhaps that means creating linkages between higher-education and the base to improve officer training. Maybe it is investment in electronics or propulsion technology. Maybe it is shifting the base from pure operations to technology development or instruction to leverage Connecticut's economic assets.

Creative, pro-active leadership that leverages Connecticut's assets is the point. Rell just doesn't seem to possess the creativity to make better economic pitches. It's the same thing with insurance or biotech. Her administration justs sits back and expresses dissapointment here and there...but what are the actual proposals for change? Where is the innovative leadership?

Leonardo said...

This exchange about Rell's incompetence and lack of vision is a hoot! We have two senior Senators in Washington. Why do they get a complete pass on this? Rell has been governor for 10 months. The base has been in jeopardy for a decade or more. Where have Joe and Chris been? Right...Chris has been trying to cut defense spending! Thanks, Chris!

ctkeith said...

I wish Chris was more successful at cutting defense spending.Any organization that couldn't account for 9 billion in a single year (defense dept in Iraq)certainly is very bloated.
Leonardo,Pleae tell me the last yr the defense dept was able to complete an audit.