Sunday, June 25, 2006

Dan Malloy: The CEO Governor

On a rainy Saturday Dan Malloy came to middle of main street in Middletown to chat with some of the political junkies that blog for this site and MyLeftNutmeg at Java Palooza, one of the coffee houses that tap into the free municipal WIFI. Fresh from an earlier “Meet the Mayor” meeting in Stamford, Malloy greeted the small group to talk about his campaign, Connecticut and of course the issues.

In the past six years, Main Street in Middletown has changed from empty store-fronts to a more pedestrian inviting look of small businesses like Java Palooza. It’s the kind of small scale growth that has been a small bright spot for the Connecticut economy recently. In this setting it seemed natural that chatting with Malloy would turn to themes of the Connecticut economy.

“I think Connecticut has some surprising opportunities” said Malloy. “We have the capacity to compete in more areas than people think.”

To Malloy, Connecticut is a land of opportunity, but he admits that he worries more about what happens if Connecticut doesn’t change course.

Connecticut Not Competeting

“Connecticut,” he says softly, “is currently headed in the wrong direction.”

It’s clear that the despite the soft spoken tone, Malloy believes deeply that Connecticut is suffering from years of poor management.

New York, New Jersey and Massachusetts are much more competitive than they were in the past, he explained. New Jersey for example made large investments in their transportation infrastructure and now reap the expansion fueled by rail, water and road investments by the state.

“For the past 20 years, New Jersey has made an investment in transportation, Malloy added, “it’s a sin that Connecticut hasn’t.”

New Jersey’s model isn’t without problems. Legislators in New Jersey are currently grappling with issues concerning over development, cost over runs, and budget shortfalls. But the overall result is hard to argue with. According to James W. Hughes, Dean of the School of Planning and Public Policy at Rutgers “Every period of economic progression in New Jersey was built upon earlier advances in transportation infrastructure investment. These were increments of new transportation capacity that preceded and facilitated subsequent economic growth.”

Connecticut by most measures has not fared as well. A FDIC report from 2005 said Connecticut lagged near the bottom in job creation. Even our farms are closing and moving to Pennsylvania, Malloy pointed out, referring to the recent announcement that Franklin Farms, a grower or organic mushrooms and vegetables is leaving Connecticut.

To Malloy, the list of reasons for the dire outlook of Connecticut’s future is long. “There is no transportation policy. There is no energy policy. There is no job retention, no job growth policy. There's certainly no housing policy.”

Better Government That Costs Less

Malloy points to his record as Mayor of Stamford, not only as a good fiscal model, but also as a model for good governance that communicates better, cuts costs and offers better service.

“This is a good story, a true story,” he begins “In 1995 I went down to Washington D.C. I was trying to get federal funds to improve my city, Stamford. We wanted to add parking, improve the rail stations.”

“They asked me, why doesn’t Connecticut ask for more Federal funds? I couldn’t answer that.” The next year he added a request for 8 rail cars so he wouldn’t be asked the question again. Malloy’s ability to identify problems and work diligently towards solutions is evident in reviewing his record. In 1999, Stamford received $992,500 in federally earmarked funs to start the Stamford Urban Transitway. By 2006, the federal earmarks for Stamford totaled $33,553,00 and the list of projects ranged from high speed ferry terminals, bridges, walking trails and the continued worked on roads and rail improvements.

But federal and state funds aren’t the only places Malloy has looked for ways to fund initiatives. Malloy doesn’t fit the tar brushed mold of what Republicans want people to believe. “We've got to combat this basic rubric of analysis that most citizens engage in, that Democrats are bad for the economy and bad for fiscal management, and that Republicans are good for the economy and good for fiscal management. Now, the reverse happens to be true, but someone's got to be saying this on an ongoing basis, and in my case at least proving it."

Mayors like to tout their city’s bond ratings, in Stamford’s case, still AAA, and then turn to the positives of the yearly budgets. Malloy is no different, he takes pride in his accomplishments, acknowledging that 4 of the past 6 years Stamford has had a budget surplus, but adding with conviction that its 8 surpluses out of nine year's worth of budgets under his watch.

The Future Vision

With the new parking garages and rail station improvements, Malloy turned to the businesses in Stamford to help shoulder part of the investment in making Stamford a better, more attractive place. The result was the downtown special services district contributes money towards the beautification and promotion of downtown Stamford.

“Government should be more proactive on how towns manage their money and their services.” Malloy points out, “Stamford shrunk the size of government but increased services.”

When looking at Connecticut’s rail system, Malloy tackled the outdated thinking that accepts the 100 year old system of fixed passenger schedules. Part of the solution, he says, is to think of it as a subway system with more frequent trains, shorter trains that operate with greater flexibility.

Partnership with business and entrepreneurial approaches do work he explained. “If we wrestled with competition, if government is a partner, there’s a brighter future for Connecticut even in niche manufacturing.”

Yet towns across Connecticut are busy turning industrial zones into residential housing. Malloy is concerned about that, pointing out that he fought to keep a manufacturer in Stamford despite the hard reality that doing business is Connecticut is expensive and often not competitive with other states. He identifies energy costs as one of the many factors that impact business operations using Michigan as an example of a state that offers energy costs about one sixth of what it costs in Connecticut.

Accountability Is Important

Despite Malloy’s enthusiasm for tackling the problems through policy, he came back to a recurring theme. “No one goes back five years later to review policy decisions,” he began, “we do in Stamford.” Malloy, it turns out, is deeply concerned with unintended consequences. It’s not enough for him to craft policy and let others execute it without accountability. That touchstone of accountability is one that resonates broadly, especially for Malloy, a former prosecutor. His view on Jodi Rell’s leadership starkly exhibits his passion for accountability. “She's shocked, she's saddened, she's disappointed in the corruption of people who are working for her.' I mean, we can use the terms, we all know them. This is totally reactive government.”

Malloy is clearly frustrated by the missed opportunities and failures to address Connecticut’s future. He’s hoping for that dynamic to change in November. But he first has to tackle the difficult task of winning the August 8th Democratic primary to get there. He’s itching for a debate with Jodi Rell, “I can’t wait to have a real debate with Jodi Rell,” he says confidently. But when pressed about the campaign for the primary, he admitted his frustrations with the Senate race dominating coverage, and the generally less engaged voter. After the first week of July he promised it’ll be a sprint to the finish. Looking at how he’s tackled each and every task thus far, you can be sure that’s he got a plan to win the race.

30 comments:

bluecoat said...

Thinking that the New Haven line can be used as a subway is a great illusion but it isn't backed up by a single prfoessional analysis...and malloy does nothing to address the impact of the "bad growth" in Stamford that contributed to an already congested highway system as I discuss in this last thread here Malloy flies by the seat of his panats, Rell stepas and fetches and JDS well he often aims after he shoots but his aim....???

BRubenstein said...

The state cannot be run like the CEO of a corporation.

The bold leadership needed to advance this state just doesnt present itself in the issues and solutions that Malloy advances. Or JDS for that matter. Both candidates didnt advance bold enough issues to capture the attention of the public and that is backed up by the evidence of Rell's remaining high popularity.

BTW I heard from a friend that DM was told months ago that should there be a challenge to Lieberman that said challenge would dwarf the gubenatorial race...he laughed at the time...who is laughing now?

bluecoat said...

BR: he'd like it to be run as if he were the CEO judging form the way he has been campaigning among the party faithful...I see malloy as another "Simon says" Democrat...just like Bubba but nowhere near as smart or educated...

A Real Democrat said...

JESUS CHRIST will the trolls give it a rest? WE GET IT GUYS you don't like Malloy. Are you really so threatened that you need to come in and be the first posts in every thread about this blogger meeting and just troll away? Insulting his intelligence (if you've heard him or DeStefano speak you know that both are very intelligent). I am so damn tired of Democrats on these boards tearing each other down. Not just tearing eachother down, but being outright vicious about it. Frankly its pathetic. I can just picture you two sitting at your cpu's hitting F5 over and over until "OH MY GOD A DAN MALLOY POST TIME TO SAY AS MANY NEGATIVE THINGS AS I CAN THINK OF AS QUICK AS POSSIBLE".

turfgrrl said...

bluecoat -- the subway thing is kinda interesting though. I think it is reasonable that the frequency of trains be more like a subway. Certainly rail lines in the UK operate more like that model. He didn't get into how to pay for it, but that would make good fodder for more discussion.

cgg said...

I don't know about anyone else but it would make my life easier to have trains running more frequently during the day.

A Real Democrat said...

Oh so it's the "staffer" defense is it? No I dont post much but I do read a lot, and no Im not on either campaign.

I just enjoy reading about BOTH candidates, and then I come into the comments section and see the same people with only negative things to say. Bluecoat especially is obviously only bent on slamming the same candidate at every turn, regardless of what the current topic is. So why bother? We know what youre gonna say. And you with your "insider" rumors? Heresay really adds a lot to the discourse.

I'm not saying we arent allowed to be critical. But when its the same people, over and over, it becomes pretty clear that you have an agenda. It's seriously at a point where you can open the comments here and just by reading the poster names you know how the conversation is going. And that's pretty sad.

turfgrrl said...

a real democrat -- don't lump bluecoat in with the negative posters. bluecoat backs up his opinions with plenty of explanation, facts and reasoning. We may not end up in agreement, but it's not because of the lack of discussion.

TrueBlueCT said...

GENGHIS--

You going to give DeStefano equal time? I presume the Fair doctrine applies here?

FWIW. And I appreciate the reporting. I'm just surprised to see such a Malloy weekend in here. You guys haven't joined his PR team have you?

TrueBlueCT said...

P.S. Did any of you get him on the record as to where he stands on the repeal of the estate tax? Last I knew he was silently for it, yet stubbornly refused to own his position in public...

Genghis Conn said...

If the DeStefano campaign is interested, we'd love to talk to them. The Rell campaign, too.

BRubenstein said...

A real democrat....EVERYONE has an agenda here...including you...please let us know when you will grow a spine and blog in here UNDER YOUR REAL NAME LIKE I DO.

Present us different candidates and our arguments will be different..

There is nothing wrong in presenting negatives about a candidate..if they deserve it then it should be part of the public discourse...under your theory we would only be allowed to say positive things about candidates..frankly there isnt much positive i could say about DM that couldnt be said in a sentence or two.

Frankly, until such time as you let us know who you are your rantings about trolls etc will be discounted by your lack of political courage in letting this blog know who you are.

BRubenstein said...

GC your questions ( meaning all of you) were too easy on Malloy...id suggest that you all roundtable the blog about whom you will be visiting and accept some tougher questions from the rest of us that can be used in your interview of the candidates.

Rell is going down said...

"A Real Democrat",

Since you seem so interested in democrats not tearing each other down, why didn't you respond to my post this morning regarding Malloy calling DeStefano a thug? I guess it's OK for Malloy's actual campaign staffers to spew hate, but god forbid brubentstein has something bad to say about Malloy. That's just bad for the party, right?

cgg said...

TrueBlue, we'd love to sit down with ANY candidate who wants to. Malloy's people extended the invite. Why wouldn't we all attend and then post our thoughts?

ctkeith said...

This is funny,

Wasn't W sold as the CEO President?

How'd that work out in your opinion Turfy?

Genghis Conn said...

It is not legitimate to call another poster an "idiot." I don't care how angry you are.

Genghis Conn said...

And no accusing others of being staffers for a rival campaign.

I mean it.

Rell is going down said...

That was a joke that I guess you didn't get. I'll never try to make anyone laugh again. I promise.

Rell is going down said...

It is funny that nobody has come to Malloy's defense regarding his comments the other day. I've brought it up 3 times now, and noone has had anything to say about it. I will take that as an admission of guilt, and an admission that it is dirty politics to refer to your oppenent as a thug after your campaign screwed up.

turfgrrl said...

ctkeith-- W was sold as a conservative too, and he isn't that either. Management and leadership skills are not limited to CEO's, however, it's a good shorthand for the style in which one; learns, leads, delegates, assesses and optimizes.

You can debate the merits over another approach to management, there are plenty of success stories for all styles.

Guy that never posts said...

Bernard Ebbers, Dennis Kozlowski, Ken Lay, Dan Malloy.

He'd be another CEO you can count on...being investigated...again.

It's 4th down and Dannel P. is throwing Hail Marrys. This is a transparent attempt to reach out to the progressive wing of the party that he nevered agreed with or cared about.

Go Whalers.

HealthcareNOW said...

Ctkeith got to it before me...dammit. I was gonna say that didn't George Bush sell himself as te CEO President.

But in all fairness, I'm not a Malloy fan, but I suggest that posts shouldn't be this long. It really was excruciating. I'm not criticizing anyone's writing style but the length has got to be cut down a bit.

I really can't imagine why anyone would want to sell themselves as the CEO governor. It wreaks of the corporate image that Malloy already has to deal with because he's a part of the DLC and is against the estate tax. I just think it's the wrong image to sell to primary voters. He's not hitting any of the progressive corners at all.

If people want to sell his corporate credentials and moderate image, fine. I just don't think it'll work.

TrueBlueCT said...

HeathcareNOW--

In the words of "Yogi",--a Malloy supporter, and fan of bears:

Dan Malloy is a statesman. He is running on the fact that he can get republican votes and work with republicans. His HC plan is made to work in conjunction with a republican or democratic house. And, Dan believes that he can work with George Bush as well as with a Democrat.

"Yogi" then goes further to call Malloy a Republican/Democrat hybrid with the ability to get it done.

You'd think DLC Dan had already won the primary and moved on to the general based upon the way he and his supporters are marketing his candidacy!

GMR said...

Guy that Never Posts: certainly you aren't implying that all CEOs are crooks, right? And what's with all the "corporate" bashing here?

Oh, and as for George W. Bush, he wasn't really a successful CEO. I think he made most of his money from the Texas Rangers baseball team after the state or city or something like that built the stadium.

There have been successful CEOs in politics, with mixed results in politics. I think Mitt Romney did a good job as CEO and has been doing a good job as governor of Massachusetts, but I digress...

As for running Metro North more like a subway: is there really any demand for this? The stops seem too far apart for the railroad to operate as a subway. In Stamford, for instance, there are quite a few office parks up Long Ridge Road: where Hyperion Software and Xerox are, and there's no way you can walk there from the Stamford RR station. Even the GE Capital building along Summer Street are quite a haul. Maybe you could walk to some of these buildings on a 65 degree spring or fall day, but not every day.

Our transportation infrastructure is no good in this state, but a lot of time, it seems as if a few local residents (and sometimes, non-local residents) can prevent something from being built. Look at the transportation alternatives between Danbury and Norwalk. The Metro North spur line is one track, non-electrified, and trains sort of lumber along that spur. The major road, Route 7, is jammed in rush hour, and has all sort of lights. The state owns all the land required to build a highway between Danbury and Norwalk, but the residents of Wilton have prevented any expansion of Route 7 to Super 7.

Any building project in this part of the state seems to have some group against it. The parking garage at the Darien RR station was rejected because if more people took the train, that would result in more automobile traffic. Greenwich stopped an abandoned gas station from being converted to a Starbuck's because of traffic concerns (give me a break: Greenwich has three Starbucks already, so this one would have served people in a very small geographic area). Every proposed housing development seems to be opposed, so most developers throw in a few affordable housing units to get around local zoning boards. But seriously, everything meets opposition. So good luck exanding anything having to do with the transportation system. If you even mention widening I-95 in parts, there'll be some group denouncing it the next day.

HealthcareNOW said...

People, Dan Malloy supporters - you all have to recognize that your guy is down in the polls. He hasn't won the nomination yet!!

As a matter of fact, Dan Malloy trailed DeStefano by 8 before the convention, and afterwards he was down by 11. You can't come here and tout his corporate, moderate record because at the end of the day, this is a primary.

The sheer arrogance of talking about moderate centrism and being able to work with Republicans before you've even convinced Democrats is puzzling to me.

BRubenstein said...

lets all make sure Amtrack is up to date and running on time so when DM loses he can get back to Stamford quickly.

Chris MC said...

As usual, little of substance from the bashers. How tedious.

bluecoat said...

turffy; thanks for coming to my defense because as you point out we do disagree from time to time; BUT I do plead guilty to an agenda as charged by the RD - doing away with the staus quo and making sound decisions based on sound advice instead of what sounds good...cut and run anyone???

turfgrrl said...

bluecoat -- your agenda is fine by me. Wish more would adopt it.