Wednesday July 22, 2008
Today Blog-o-rama asks how far away we might be from Gov. Jodi Rell’s PR staff telling us to eat more broccoli and to be sure to swath ourselves in sun screen.
Yesterday Rell ignored her famous “Do One Thing” campaign to save energy, when she took the state limousine one whopping block to the Office of Policy and Management, where she had a news conference seeking bright ideas from state employee.
Too bad she didn’t save some gasoline and walk the 200 yards down Capitol Avenue.
The Blogster gets the feeling that if new ideas have to be SOLICITED from state employees, management and labor must not get along very well among the 50,000-member state workforce and that morale must not be very high.
The new Innovative Ideas Initiative – “the I³Program” – for State Employees is aimed at asking current and former state employees for new ideas and “strategies.” She’s offering “cash awards” and public recognition” for the best new ideas.
Shouldn’t state employees be doing this already, in exchange for their steady, assured pay checks, their gold-plated benefits and state-backed pensions?
From the ridiculous, we go the sublime Chris Healy, chairman of the GOP State Central Committee, who just lashed out, again, at U.S. Sen. Chris Dodd, he of the sweet 4.23-percent refinancing deal courtesy of the evil Countrywide Mortgage.
Healy just sent this screed to state reporters and the Blogster cleaned up some of the typos:It’s a full-blown rant that shows Healy’s need for a proofreader and an oxygen tank, as on-the-money as he may be.
“In an attempt to generate debate and comment, I am putting to each media outlet a question or two on Sen. Dodd’s lack of candor and disclosure concerning his four loans with Countrywide Financial given hisimportant role as chairman of the Banking and Urban Affairs Committee. I am also concerned that the lack of interest by Connecticut media to follow this story does not serve the public interest. First, as a news matter, with the exception (of) a few print stories, two TV reports, two editorial cartoons in the Courant, one tepid editorial,there have no substantive follow up or questions raised by Connecticut reporterson the nature of these transactions. There has been more coverage in national periodicals (Wall Street Journal, Washington Post) and electronic media giving one the impression that Sen. Dodd is somehow above inspection here at home. I would suggest had Sen. Dodd had an (R) rather than a (D) after his name, the tar would be boiling throughout the Connecticut print and electronic world. Since his press conference on June 16th, it has been further disclosed by Conde Nast’s portfolio.com that there are now four loans, rather than the original two, that came over a one-year period – in 2002 and 2003 that the Dodd’s consummated with Countrywide Financial. Originally, Sen. Dodd’s office had said the first loan was in the late 1990′s. These loans were obtained through its VIP program for important government decision makers – Democrats and Republicans alike. Robert Feinberg, the Vice President for Countrywide has appeared on CNBC to clearly state the VIP was aggressive in providing special discounts and rates for those decision makers like Sen. Dodd. Despite these very convincing claims (Mr.Feinberg is not suing Countrywide or appears to have an ax to grind). Sen. Dodd or his office have said nothing to dispute or refute his statements.Feinberg was also interviewed in the Conde Nast article which appeared last Thursday. But let us look at the conflicting statements since the originalstory brokein Conde Nast around June 12th. Sen. Dodd has first said he received no special treatment in a statement issued from his office on June 13. Then at a Capitol Hill press conference, he acknowledged that he was aware of being qualified for a VIP program. Feinberg said the waiving of the fees amounted to a few thousand dollars and $70,000 in savings over the course of the loan. Sen. Dodd said he would release documents at the appropriate time. We are now in Day 40 of this stonewall. Sen. Dodd said he thought he was receiving it because he was a good customer, but then followed by saying that he and his wife, had”shoppedaround” and got the best rates. Sen. Dodd didn’t say what other firm could have given him a comparable rate,but it doesn’t make sense to say on the one hand, I found out aftersearching far and wide, that “I am a preferred customer” – based on what criteria – an existing loan, a high credit rating, timely payments? The loans in questions came within one year of another. Agreeable financial accommodations had to be made for the loans to work in 2003 since many refinancing deals involve fees. But again, we don’t know because Sen.Dodd has not released any information for examination. Hypocrisy in general and especially in politics is always news worthy.Sen.Dodd should have known that when anyone approaches an elected official andsays you are a VIP, one’s antenna should have gone up, especiallysomeonewho has been quick to judge Republican elected officials over theyears -Robert Bork, President Ronald Reagan, President George HW Bush,PresidentGeorge Bush and former HUD Secretary Antonio Jackson to name a few. It was Dodd who called for Jackson to resign in a letter to President Bush for Jackson’s alleged ethical misconduct and Jackson also received loans from Countrywide under the VIP program. I am sure if you researched Dodd’s statements over his career, you would find him quick to judge and ask for investigation on a variety of legitimate ethic’s matter. Why does that standard not apply to him? Didn’t this standard on media pressure apply to say Gov. John Rowland, when he refused to disclose the many gifts and work that were done on his cottage in Bantam? I recall there being a flurry of speculation and reports pressuring Gov. Rowland to do that, Again, there has been nothing offered on Sen. Dodd’s conduct. Rowland at the time dismissed the work and other gifts as minor. The media persisted through various papers and uncovered the truth and the rest is history. Doesn’t anyone find it interesting that Sen. Dodd is submitting personal information for vetting before Sen. Obama’s Vice Presidential search committee, but he won’t share that same data with the people who electedhim? If Sen. Dodd is willing to be a Vice Presidential candidate and submit to a forensic inspection, it would seem the height of arrogance they (sic) he wouldn’t simply unveil those same documents to reporters in Connecticut and Washington. Again, no reporter I am aware of has asked that of him orthrough his office and written about it. And how about the simple politics of this issue. Why has not one elected Democrat, except for State Sen. Edith Prague, commented on this situation concerning Sen. Dodd? There hasn’t been a comment from Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro, who sold the Washington D.C. apartment to Sen. Dodd, no rfrom the rest of the delegation, the State Party Chairman or any of three National Committee members. Isn’t that a story? It used to be. Sen. Dodd’s lack of candor is only one part of this story. There areotherlegitimate questions about his lack of leadership on the Senate Banking and Urban Affairs Committee during the meltdown of the mortgage andbankingindustry. We have raised questions since last year about his prolonged absences from his job in Washington as he waged his unsuccessful campaign for President. We issued release after release about his move to Iowa and focus on winning there while many of these financial institutions began toshow disturbing losses and trends toward insolvency. When he returned this year and spring, Dodd rushed through a $300-billion mortgage bailout, that would pick up many bad mortgages of dubious qualityand allow banks to park much of their bad loans at taxpayer’s expense. One of those banks would be Bank of America, which bought Countrywide Financialand all its assets, including Dodd’s mortgage. Dodd said last year that banks that commit predatory lending should be prosecuted criminally? Well,Countrywide is one of those banks accused of that. Is it not hypocritical to go after a bank that gave him a generous loan to ask that they besent to jail for giving another loan to someone else under different circumstances.Again, the only challenge comes from a partisan hack like myself. Then as late as July 11th, Dodd made a public statement assuring the marketsand anyone else that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac were solvent and had plentyof capital to sustain any losses. The following Monday, the US Treasury announced it was bailing out Fannie and Freddie. Again, what changed fromFriday to Monday and who gave Sen. Dodd that assurance? Was the U.S.Treasury? Could it have been the lobbyists from Fannie and Freddie,whose employees have given close to $100,000 to Dodd’s Senate and Presidentialcampaigns. Again, we don’t know because no one from the print or electronic media wantsto be bothered. Or maybe there is something else at work here. Sen. Dodd is an icon.Schools are named after him and his father and he deserves the respect of someone who has served his state since 1974. And while we disagree with his policies at times, one must afford him that. But that doesn’t insulate him from legitimate questions at a time where the integrity of the nation’s financial institutions are at stake since no other time since the Great Depression. I would hope we can have that inspection and see where it leads us. Thanks for your time.
Christopher Healy Connecticut Republican Chairman”