Every other week, John J. Ryan, our former Republican state representative, and Joshua Fisher, former Darien Times editor, share their back-and-forth about news going on around the state, among other items of interest. Links to all the articles and other items mentioned in the column can be found in the Opinion section of DarienTimes.com.
Fisher: The last day of summer is officially upon us. Is the Connecticut economy getting better yet?
Ryan: There certainly has to be one good bit of economic news. Since it is now non-stop political campaign time for the next seven weeks, those folks in the various branches of the media that create TV ads, print lawn signs and send mailers are busy and happy.
But for much of the rest of the business world — well, you should check out “Economic picture grim as job losses reappear” (CTMirror.com, Sept. 17), which features this cheery lead: “After hitting its lowest point this spring since emerging from the recent recession, the state’s economy might need until 2018 to recover all the jobs it lost, the University of Connecticut is reporting…”
Fisher: Two-thousand-eighteen!?! But if Connecticut has all its jobs back by then, what will Linda McMahon run on during that campaign?
So are you telling us that all of the various recent economic development programs and tax incentives Gov. Malloy has been throwing around are not helping Connecticut’s fiscal woes?
Ryan: Apparently the topic of Connecticut economic “initiatives” is moving from the pathetic to the subject of ridicule and amusement. See (a source we do not often cite) “Doggling the Boon” from the current issue of Connecticut Magazine (ConnecticutMag.com).
Fisher: Hmmmmm — I had no idea that there were so many historical examples of “Yankee ingenuity” on the boondoggle front. It can make you wonder what our governor will come up with during the second half of his first term. He’s already shown a penchant for raising taxes and traveling beyond our fair state — sometimes really beyond it. Can you call that an economic initiatives?
Ryan: We both know you are really referring to the latest gubernatorial junket. See “Malloy sees state business growth in China” (StamfordAdvocate.com, Sept. 12). There really is nothing like a personal visit by Connecticut’s governor to a statue of famous Nutmegger Mark Twain in China!
Fisher: Well, one of the best parts about state election seasons is the legislators are so busy campaigning they limit their time in Hartford — and usually their damage to Connecticut.
Ryan: You mean they are meeting with constituents to consider worthy topics of legislation for next year’s General Assembly session. One good idea is being picked up by other members of the media: See “Primaries costly for small towns” (NorwichBulletin.com, Sept. 15). This is a topic that our intrepid editor has already been opining on for years.
Fisher: Well, it must be a good idea if a consensus of media support is developing. Don’t forget that Gov. Malloy vetoed legislation last June that would have allowed municipalities to reduce polling places for primaries. But why look for ways to save money when you can just raise taxes?
The governor, however, has been talking a lot about making sure everyone has the chance to vote. Maybe he doesn’t want a bill like that to come back and haunt him in some sort of crafty campaign ad. And might we be seeing Gov. Malloy setting his GPS for 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. four years from now?
But let’s not focus on the future. Let’s live in the past. Those past state decisions. Because they are lumped together with dozens of other last-minute legislation and signatures and vetoes, they are often lost in the shuffle.
Ryan: As you may or may not know, you can, thanks to the Internet, easily get many details on what your state government has been doing in the past. Were you interested in the 2011 legislative redistricting plan? Or the report by the Two-Storm Panel on the 2011 power outages? Those items (and pages and pages of referenced reports and summaries) are easily available from the legislature’s Office of Legislative Research, which can be found at cga.ct.gov/olr/.
Fisher: As you’ve been saying and writing for years, there is a large amount of info available on what our state government does and how it does it, and if we taxpayers — and voters — do not pay attention, who can we really blame for Connecticut’s woes?
John J. Ryan is of counsel to the Darien law firm Tibbetts, Keating & Butler, and served 14 years as Darien and Rowayton’s state representative — and has been writing this column for Hersam Acorn even longer.