Thursday, January 06, 2005

Government Reform after Scandal

Governor Rell Picture, my take, and links on FreeSpeech.com (Click Here)

Bold Challenge Governor Asks Legislature For Major Reforms In Month

January 6, 2005 By MARK PAZNIOKAS And CHRISTOPHER KEATING, Hartford Courant Staff Writers

In her first State of the State address since scandal chased John G. Rowland from office and left her as governor, M. Jodi Rell Wednesday challenged the General Assembly to pass ethics and campaign reforms in the next month.

"I believe there exists, within all branches of government, both the consensus and the political will necessary for reform," Rell said.

"We've been talking about reform for months. Let's just do it."

Rell offered no specifics in a speech that lasted little more than 11 minutes, only a promise to deliver "bold proposals" for ethics and campaign reform within a few short days. But none were demanded, not on this day of pomp and pageantry, laughter and tears.

The day was a celebration of a New Year, the passing of a scandal-plagued 2004, the opening of a fresh legislative session, the election of new House and Senate leaders - and the return of a popular governor just nine days after a mastectomy.

"The state of our state is strong and, like your governor, growing stronger every day," Rell said in her first visit to the Capitol since her surgery.

Eighteen new House members and five new senators took their places in the 151-member House and 36-member Senate. The House elected a new speaker, Rep. James A. Amann, D-Milford, who had his own battle with cancer three years ago. In the Senate, Donald E. Williams Jr., D-Danielson, marked the start of his first session as Senate president pro tempore.

But the focus of the day was Rell's return to the Capitol.

Rell's abbreviated speech - she and her staff originally considered announcing legislative initiatives - was just one concession to her recent surgery. She appeared physically drained as she left the House after her address and was escorted directly to a waiting car.

It is not clear when Rell, who will deliver her budget address in four weeks, will return full time to the Capitol. Six weeks is the typical recovery for a mastectomy and reconstructive surgery.

Her doctors plan no radiation or chemotherapy.

Amann, who was hospitalized for more than two months after surgery for esophageal cancer, said he urged the governor to fully regain her strength before returning full time to Hartford, but he welcomed her speech Wednesday.

"I think that certainly this was a great day for Gov. Rell, a great day for the chamber," Amann said.

"We're very, very proud of her."

Everyone had risen in one motion, applauding as they stood, as Rell approached the dais in the Hall of the House to address the joint session of the General Assembly. The overwhelmingly Democratic legislature applauded the Republican governor for nearly 90 seconds, ignoring her gentle protestations.

"Thank you all very much. Please," said Rell, who seemed to briefly struggle to keep her composure.

Another 20 seconds passed."Please," she said, her voice barely audible.

"Stop already. Stop."

They finally complied.

"Your outpouring of kindness has meant more to me than you will ever know," Rell said.

"It has given me strength and resolve in my recovery. And it has truly touched my heart, and I thank you for it."

They cheered for another 30 seconds.

"As I stand before you today, I cannot help but think of all the things that our state has been through in the last year. I also cannot help but think of the day about 20 years ago, when I stood in this very hall - in fact my seat was right back there somewhere - and I took the oath of office for the first time as a state representative," Rell said.

Then she departed from her text and added wistfully, "Twenty years ago. God, I was young."

Her husband, Lou, and their adult children, Meredith and Michael, sat in the front of the House, listening as Rell reminisced about her first day as a legislator in January 1985, listening to Gov. William A. O'Neill deliver his State of the State.

"I was nervous for him," Rell said.

"As I hid behind the shelter of my little desk, I kept thinking, `How can he do this? How can he address all of us so calmly and stand there and deliver his remarks?'"

My imagination was never so vivid, my political ambitions never so grand, as to think that I would be standing before you 20 years later, almost to the day, as the 87th governor of the great state of Connecticut, delivering my first State of the State address."

Rell said the state had been sorely tested over the past year, watching as Rowland became enmeshed in a scandal over his acceptance of gifts and favors from aides and state contractors.

"We witnessed countless revelations of corruption and breach of the public trust. We undertook an historic impeachment inquiry. We saw indictments handed out and plea bargains reached," she said.

"We saw the smooth transition of power from one administration to the next, devoid of pomp and circumstance, yet replete with the symbolism of renewal and of a restoration of faith and integrity in government."

Rell, 58, who was a House member for 10 years and then Rowland's lieutenant governor for 9½ years, called on the legislature to eschew convention and partisan politics.

The state, she said, must set the scandal behind it and turn to other challenges, such as balancing a budget in a time of great need and limited resources.

"I have been unexpectedly confronted with my own mortality as I was told that I had breast cancer. Yes, ladies and gentleman, I am looking at things a little differently now, with different eyes. Eyes more focused on what is truly important, what is truly necessary," Rell said.

"Partisan posturing and political sniping are not necessary."

She listed some of her priorities.

"We will need to address - once and for all - the issue of medical malpractice reform. We will need to fully debate and consider the issues of stem cell research, education funding, ethics reform, election reform, traffic congestion, affordability of health care and so much more," she said.

Rowland vetoed a medical malpractice bill last year, saying it did too little to control the cost of malpractice insurance. Legislation encouraging stem cell research also failed last year, but Rell's interest and the retirement of some legislative opponents make passage more likely.

"I think on the issues we care about, she's indicated that the door is open," said Rep. Christopher Donovan, D-Meriden, the new majority leader.

"We're willing to walk in and see where we go."

Rell, who has not announced if she will seek a four-year term in 2006, invited the legislature to share its ideas and promised not to worry about who gets political credit.

"Join me in making Connecticut stronger. Join me in being bold. Join me in seeing things through different eyes. For this is our moment," she said.

"Thank you all very much."

A few hugs and she was headed for the door. The smile was gone. An elevator waited. Less than a minute after leaving the chamber, she was in her black Lincoln, slowly motoring out the Capitol drive.

The state's Democratic comptroller, Nancy Wyman, who had hovered protectively around the governor during her speech and exit, appeared relieved as Rell left the political stage, if only for a respite.

"The hovering is friendship. We go back a long time," Wyman said.

On the day she went into surgery, Rell had vowed to deliver the State of the State on schedule."When at first she pledged to be here to give the opening day speech, I had no doubt that she would," said House Minority Leader Robert M. Ward, R-North Branford.

"But even I was surprised at how strong and vigorous she was, and how direct her message was."

Ward said he could not recall another governor challenging the legislature to adopt major legislation in a month, a task that he called feasible.Some Democrats were unsure.

"One month is fast-tracking it," said Senate Majority Leader Martin Looney, a New Haven Democrat.

"It seems to me that's an ambitious deadline, but not impossible."

Before Rell's speech, the Senate met separately in its ornate chambers on the Capitol's third floor.

During the brief session, both Republicans and Democrats bandied about with varying degrees of accuracy Mark Twain's quote: "Always do right. This will gratify some people, and astonish the rest."

Among the few who got it verbatim was Lt. Gov. Kevin Sullivan, a Democrat who led the Senate until he ascended to the state's number two elected office following Rowland's resignation.

"Given the still-unfolding events of the past year, this would be a really good time to gratify and astonish the people of Connecticut," Sullivan said.

"More than anything else, this will renew public trust in the integrity of our government and in those who govern."

Williams said, "This time last year we were in the midst of a swirl of scandal. I'm just delighted to be back in the business of looking at issues."

Others cautioned that the optimism of the legislature's opening day often is hard to maintain.

"Opening day is like having a newborn child. When he's born, you think he'll be president of the United States. Eighteen years later, you're trying to keep him out of jail," said Rep. Robert Farr, R-West Hartford.

"Five months from now, we'll be struggling to get a budget out and hope that we can leave with our dignity."

Courant Staff Writers Jack Dolan and Elizabeth Hamilton contributed to this story.

The above came from the Hartford Courant website.

Fair use of copyrighted material

* * * *

My email to incoming Gov. Rell of Connecticut regarding Rowland and corruption

Telling your Attorney to go fuck himself- PRICELESS

A Justice System really has to be corrupt and out of hand for something to actually change

The Death of Shame in America
(O'Reilly of the O'Reilly Factor, Fox News, asks Gov. John G. Rowland to resign Dec. 2003)

* * * *

Can cops rape, rob, beat, and murder with immunity?
(post contains pictures of young adults brutalized by police, and picture of a 1978 Chevrolet Corvette and one of the houses I fixed up from a boarded up condition)

Are their unnamed factions in the US, similar to the KKK?

With rogue judges and their minions, police officers, do we really live in a Democracy? (post)

This blogger's email: stevengerickson@yahoo.com

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