Wednesday January 23, 2008
Last evening, when the General Assembly debated the importance of helping inmates re-enter society after prison, Waterbury Mayor Mike Jarjura was confirming to The Hartford Courant that he wanted to hire John Rowland, the disgraced former governor, to lead that city’s economic development efforts.
Your average felonious inmate exiting prison is lucky to get an entry-level job stocking shelves in a supermarket. Not Rowland, Connecticut’s political con man whose post-prison career has focused on “inspirational” speaking.
* who gave away a $50-million state contract to his buddies at the Tomasso Group for the lucrative contract to build an ill-advised juvenile prison in Middletown.
* who let those same contractors spruce up his vacation cottage so he could cash in when he finally sold it.
* who accepted about $100,000 in luxury plane charters from the Oxford-based Key Air, which enjoyed a million-dollar state tax break.
I always thought John “Why Should I Resign If I’ve Done Nothing Wrong” Rowland was going to come back as the elected mayor of his Waterbury hometown, the place he called “the center of the universe.”
For Jarjura to hasten the process is laughably bad, but not beyond his capabilities.
It was Jarjura, at the height of the impeachment process during the spring of 2004, who called Rowland “the greatest governor Connecticut has ever had.” Yikes. For that alone voters should have rejected Jarjura’s subsequent write-in re-election campaign.
Coincidentally, as a House member, Jarjura voted against a bill, which passed and became law, allowing convicted felons to regain their voting rights when their legal commitments are finished.
The law was drafted to help inmates, mostly minorities, to develop a stake in their community when they leave prison.
It’s different, I guess, for white guys like Rowland, who in the eyes of denial-laden, blathering radio broadcasters like Brad Davis of the Bloomfield-based WDRC, was railroaded from office.
Gov. Jodi Rell, who met reporters in the Capitol this morning to talk about the previous nights get-tough-on-burglars legislation, was noncommittal toward the Rowland job offer.
“It’s an employment decision by the city of Waterbury and the Chamber of Commerce there,” she said uncomfortably of the man for whom she served as lieutenant governor for nine-and-a-half years. “It’s entirely up to them and I really have no bearing on it… I’m not hiring this person.”
Another coincidence is Rowland’s apparent emergence back on the public payroll somewhere.
He was a guy who worked hard to privatize state jobs and bust unions for much of his career as governor.
Jarjura was a conservative tough-on-crime Democrat when he was in the General Assembly and yet here he goes offering money from a bankrupt city to pay part of Rowland’s salary.
The local Chamber of Commerce is supposed to pay the rest. Rowland’s talent was as schmoozer, that’s for sure. He had that fratboy/politician ability, even as he was taking whatever perks he could glom upon.
Senate President Don Williams, D-Brooklyn, who owes his ascent to Rowland, said today that “Time goes by and we all move on, but I’m not sure that’s a perfect fit.”
I do have the perfect hourly job for Rowland: telemarketing for Key Air charter services. It’s the least he could do for an honest paycheck.
The alternative would be – strolling down memory lane – a job at the Home Depot. In December 2003 he lied to reporters about the genesis of the custom kitchen cabinets installed in his Bantam Lake summer place
.”In actuality, we spent more than $30,000 doing improvements to the cottage,” Rowland lied to reporters in Waterbury on December 2, 2003. “We paid for all the improvements.”
That’s why he earned the nickname Johnny Johnola.