I just got around to reading a story that made some waves last week among political junkies.
A weekly newspaper obtained Republican Gov. M. Jodi Rell’s daily schedule from the past few months and wrote a pretty critical story that she doesn’t do a hell of a lot.
That take on how the Governor spends her time is nothing new. The Hartford Courant wrote a similar story, also based on Rell’s daily schedules, last year.
And just about every Democrat in Hartford will, if asked, characterize Rell using words like “nice” and “disengaged.”
It was a worthwhile story to read if only to get folks thinking about how exactly a Governor should spend their day.
But as someone who has struggled with writing similar stories about elected officials and how they spend their time, I would have liked the reporter to perhaps build a better, more objective case that Rell has a too light schedule. Obviously he thinks so.
Aside from outlining a day in the life of former Republican Gov. John Rowland, the story mainly relies on criticisms from Democrats who are never afraid to go after Rell – House Speaker James Amann, D-Milford and Sen. Andrew McDonald, D-Stamford - and a former agency head Rell fired.
It might have helped to include interviews with non-partisans from in and out of state – professors of politics, good government groups, national legislative associations – who could perhaps explain the role of a Governor in a small state like Connecticut and whether Rell is meeting expectations or falling short.
What folks need to remember is that a lot of the policy-making gets done by the currently Democrat-majority legislature, which technically is only in session for, at the most, the first half of each year.
So that leaves several months where the Governor basically has to manage her various agency heads and perform ribbon cuttings and the like.
But how often should a Governor meet with her department heads? How involved should a Governor be in the daily or weekly work of her agencies? Is there even enough to do as Governor in Connecticut to warrant it being a full-time job? Should Connecticut Governors not have Chiefs of Staff or a Lt. Governor, forcing them to assume more duties? Do Connecticut residents want a Governor who is micromanaging everything or a Governor who is more hands off?
These are the things the article got me thinking about, so it did a good job there. I only wish it had also attempted to answer a few of these questions. But maybe the weekly or some of the rest of us in the capitol press will do so in the future.
What is certain is these types of stories are not going away any time soon. Rell has to decide whether to seek re-election in 2010. And whether she does or not, I’m pretty sure some of the potential Democratic contenders – Amann and Stamford Mayor Dannel Malloy – will be campaigning on a platform of being more involved in state government.