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For Malloy, Town Halls Are Practice For The Campaign

by Christine Stuart | Feb 19, 2014 10:59pm
(9) Comments | Commenting has expired
Posted to: Election 2014, Norwalk

Christine Stuart photo

Gov. Dannel P. Malloy

NORWALK — Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s town hall meeting in Norwalk was somewhat similar to dozens he’s held in past years, but Wednesday’s was different.

The formula was the same, but the stakes were much higher. The first-term governor isn’t expected to announce his re-election campaign until after May 7, the end of the legislative session, but there’s little doubt among Democrats that he’s going to run.

Wednesday’s town hall followed a familiar script. Malloy offered about five-minutes of opening comments regarding his budget proposal and he spoke about what he had to overcome when he took office.

“I don’t have a lot to pre-load or to start with,” Malloy said. “We collectively are doing the best we can. We collectively are dealing with a long period of time in which the state of Connecticut didn’t make some of the changes that it needed to make.”

He reminded the more than 100 who attended that Connecticut had the largest per capita deficit of any state in the nation in 2011.

“That’s going from a $3.6 billion deficit to what should be a $500 million surplus,” Malloy said to a round of applause. “The day I was sworn in all of the money in the rainy day fund had been spent down to zero.”

He said if the state is going to end this year with a surplus he wants to give $155 million of that back to taxpayers, use $250 million to boost the rainy day fund, and contribute an additional $100 million to the state employee pension plan.

Another part of the familiar town hall script involves Lt. Gov. Nancy Wyman playing the role of Vanna White holding the microphone for the members of the public to question the governor. She assumed the role Wednesday and comforted those who were nervous while gently ushering the overly eager speakers away from the microphone at the appropriate time.

What was different perhaps than in years past is the presence of the executive director of the Connecticut Democratic Party, a party spokesman, and a video tracker.

James Hallinan, a spokesman for the party, declined to comment on the use of the video tracker. None of the video they captured would be allowed to be used in Malloy’s re-election campaign.

“We’re not going to comment on strategy like that,” Hallinan said.

As for the public, the comments and questions varied from a woman who runs a nursing facility that’s struggling to a woman who wanted Malloy to support a legislative proposal that would give adopted children access to their medical records.

Then there were those like Carmen Sargent of SEIU 32 BJ, a union representing janitors and cleaners, who praised Malloy’s budget and policies.

“As nice as you were, you probably just got me in trouble,” Malloy told Sargent, who the party said was not a “plant.”

Then there was Bob MacGuffie of Right Principles. MacGuffie is a member of the Tea Party, and was upset with Malloy’s comments at a Democratic fundraising dinner in September.

Christine Stuart photo Malloy described the Republicans in Washington as the “barbarians at the wall” in his keynote speech.

MacGuffie was offended. “I’m a Tea Party activist. We don’t like being lied to and we don’t like being lied about,” MacGuffie said.

He said Malloy needs to stop “ridiculing” hundreds of thousands of residents who simply want Malloy to “change the trajectory” of spending.

“You ridicule us while Connecticut is ranked as the worst run state in the nation by Barron’s,” MacGuffie said.

Malloy let him finish before responding. He encouraged MacGuffie to look at the chart and calculate the spending growth of the state budget during his administration. Malloy claims he’s kept it to 2.8 percent.

Malloy went on to ask MacGuffie to calculate how much his administration has lowered the state’s long-term debt verses how much it grew under the past two administrations. He said he thinks the two can find agreement in that area. Where they won’t agree is on issues like health care.

“I happen to believe that citizens need to have insurance, that no person should fail to get a mammogram because they can’t afford it,” Malloy said.

The comment got applause. MacGuffie, referring to Junior Sierra, an undocumented student struggling to afford college, said he thinks he should have his college paid for “but it’s never going to happen.”

Malloy told Sierra, who won a scholarship to Quinnipiac University that he won’t be able to use because he doesn’t qualify for financial aid, that he would look into what he could do about creating unrestricted “governor’s scholarships.”

Connecticut already offers in-state tuition rates to undocumented students, but those students don’t qualify for federal financial aid which still puts higher education out of reach for many. Ultimately, the immigration issue has to be handled by Congress, Malloy said.

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(9) Comments

posted by: redlady | February 20, 2014  7:11am

There just are not enough MacDuffies to around! The Governor is a very skilled politician. His shell game, called Reducing The Debt, proves the gullibility of the Nutmeggers. The truth is the moving around of various funds, stripping money from the hospitals, and taxing the stuffing out of the working classes are all part of his game. Yet, here we have 100 people clapping for The Riddler and Vanna….not only telling, but absolutely disappointing.

posted by: StanMuzyk | February 20, 2014  11:04am

Gov. Malloy keeps blaming Republicans for his bad governing of our state.  It’s like Barack Obama still blaming former Pres. George W.Bush for his inadequate presidential performance, Malloy’s mentor unfortunately for us—is Pres. Obama.  Don’t kid yourselves Malloy’s town hall meetings agenda is a politcal reelection ploy—at taxpayer expense.  Malloy has been using city and town hall visits for his unannounced bid for reelection for some time already.

posted by: DrHunterSThompson | February 20, 2014  11:19pm

DrHunterSThompson

that MacDuffie due is a trip, huh? Like all the t-baggers, he is a one trick pony.  Government is a nearly seemless web of policy and financing - both revenue and expenditures. both parties have made mistakes, no doubt, but to think the tea party types are even close to the answer is akin to thinking Pussy Riot is the answer to bad rock n’roll.

HST

posted by: redlady | February 21, 2014  2:14pm

Somehow, Mr.Thompson, I don’t think you realize what the meaning of your distasteful name for Tea Party Patriots means.  If you did, I believe you would be far too gentlemanly to use it. As for the MacDuffies in this country, hats off to them and to him for having the courage to speak his mind outside of an anonymous website posting page.

posted by: StanMuzyk | February 21, 2014  4:30pm

Dr. Thompson assails the Tea Party for damaging our country—only as a smokescreen for our national Democratic elected leadership that keeps burying the country with bankruptcy driven legislation like ObamaCare—that neither Republicans and the Tea Party had the votes to stop.  The Obama dictatorship—not the Tea Party is responsible for our reverse-played Democratic prosperity.  HST appears to resist “calling a spade—a spade” due to his political
servitude.

posted by: Art Vandelay | February 24, 2014  7:39am

I watched part of Malloy’s Norwalk Town Hall Meeting in pure disgust. A young ILLEGAL took to the mike complimenting himself on his achievements and the advantages he took from the state.  He wanted the state to do more for him & Malloy agreed. I have no issues with someone wanting to improve themselves, but why doesn’t this illegal do anything to make himself LEGAL.  He took valuable time away from a legal citizen of this state to ask Malloy a question.  I had to switch channels.

posted by: redlady | February 24, 2014  2:39pm

Art,
Your experience rings a bell. A few patriots attended the legislative hearings when Looney & Prague pushed for the instate tuition breaks for illegals. They paraded over 150 illegals into the hearing room and then proceeded to expound on how “talented” and “deserving” these illegal immigrants are.  The bill passed and I am wondering when the children of legal USA citizens from the State of CT will be faced with having to compete against the illegal population for a chance at a college education.

posted by: Art Vandelay | February 24, 2014  9:20pm

@Redlady,
It reminds me of the time when as a Young Republican I attended a rally. Vice President Spiro Agnew was the guest speaker. At the last second just as I was walking into the auditorium, organized protesters stormed the gates. I was cut off, not allowed in, and Agnew was heckled off the stage.  The left has been orchestrating their agenda, and Malloy’s “Town Halls” are no different.  The ringers are there and the deck is stacked. Oh yes maybe one person who wants this state to go in the right direction might get to the mike, but I’m sure he or she is cut off.

posted by: DrHunterSThompson | February 25, 2014  7:59am

DrHunterSThompson

jokers to left of me, jokers to the right.  here i am, stuck in the middle ....

HST