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Duff, D’Amelio, debate issues in Norwalk City Hall

State Senate Majority Leader Bob Duff (D-25), right; Republican challenger Marc D’Amelio, left.

The election is Nov. 6.

Updated, 7:57 a.m.: Copy edits, information added

NORWALK, Conn. – Democratic State Sen. Bob Duff and his Republican challenger, Marc D’Amelio, sparred Thursday, touching on Norwalk’s hot button issues during a League of Women Voters debate in City Hall.

D’Amelio started right away with commentary that matched his “Enough Duff” campaign slogan, while Duff waited until the end to showcase his new slogan, “kindness comes back to you.”  In between, the two battled over issues that included the Walk Bridge’s impact on SoNo businesses, the fate of stalled redevelopment project Wall Street Place (a.k.a. “POKO”), the state budget and the economy.

Video by Harold Cobin at end of story

“It’s nice to see a full room,” Duff said at the outset, before launching in to answer moderator Jean Rabinow’s first question, a request to name his top three legislative priorities.

“It’s all about growing our tax base,” Duff said.  He would prioritize what he sees as the state’s need for a skilled workforce – to fill 25,000 vacant manufacturing jobs and 4,000 IT jobs – plus transportation infrastructure, education funding, and affordable housing.

D’Amelio said he’d get to the three legislative priorities but first wanted to dispute comments made by Duff “the other day” during a News12 debate.

“We are not doing so well in this state and Norwalk is not doing so well,” D’Amelio said. “You’re going to hear a lot today about nice programs that are social that we can all get behind but this is about the economy and where Connecticut and Norwalk and Darien are going… when I was young Connecticut was the envy of the country and we are not there anymore.”

Asked about unmet pension fund liabilities and specific policies to keep Connecticut sound, D’Amelio said Gov. Dannel Malloy’s $100 billion effort to address infrastructure issues was not funded properly, and the Senate Republicans had a better plan.

Duff said the pensions were ignored for 50 years but over the last eight years action has been taken. Of the $1.4 billion a year in pension costs, $1.3 billion is for employees who were hired before 1984, he said.

D’Amelio called this “pass the buck, kick the can” and said Duff has been a Senator for 14 years.  He went on to attack the recent State Employee Bargaining Agent Coalition (SEBAC) contract revision and accused Duff of agreeing to it to get votes from union members.

The SEBAC agreement saves Connecticut $24 billion over 20 years, Duff said.

Rabinow asked what the politicians would consider a good outcome for Wall Street Place, the stalled development begun by POKO Partners. Neither Duff nor D’Amelio answered that directly.

D’Amelio said it’s good to have legislators fight for their towns but he didn’t think he wanted someone who has never started a business and never written checks with his family’s money to meet payroll.

Taxpayers gave millions of dollars to Wall Street Place and the Wall Street Theater, both of which are bankrupt, D’Amelio said.  “We have to prioritize our progress. I would much rather see our bridges and infrastructure fixed than politicians getting involved in places that they have no business involved in,” D’Amelio said.

Duff began his response by mentioning the 1955 flood that decimated Wall Street, drawing derisive laughter from some in the crowd.

Wall Street needs a lot of attention, Duff said.  He noted that POKO Partners principle Ken Olson became ill before construction stopped and then died.

Wall Street Place would have made the Wall Street area different than SoNo, in that it wouldn’t be dependent on tourism dollars, Duff said.  “One thing I won’t apologize for is fighting to get Wall Street back working again, and developed again, the way it needs to be. I won’t apologize for helping support funding for the Wall Street Theater.”

“Inch by inch, sometimes you have starts and stops, but I remain bullish on the fact that we will get that project going one way or another and Wall Street will be redeveloped again and see some of its former glory,” Duff said.

“I don’t remember the flood but I do remember … Woolworth’s (on Wall Street in the 1970s),” D’Amelio retorted.

“Wall Street is an amazing place,” D’Amelio said. “There are business people out there, real estate people, who are much smarter in developing than the politicians are and I would leave that to the business people.”

Real estate broker Jason Milligan, who was in the audience, clapped; he told NoN after the event that he had not been aware of the rules requiring the audience to remain silent.  Rabinow, who had already asked the audience to remain quiet several times, admonished the audience again and threatened to call the police and have the clapping person removed.

Duff shot back at D’Amelio, correcting him on the businesses that were on Wall Street in the 70s, and said nothing further.

Asked about the possibility of banning ghost guns and changing the open carry laws, D’Amelio said he had taken the Moms Demand Action Guns Sense quiz online and gotten on the organization’s list of approved candidates, as a Republican.

“I care as much as anyone,” D’Amelio said.

Duff said he believes that the open carry law should be changed and that ghost guns should be banned.

“The question really is, is somebody going to advocate for a bill that we care about from day one all the way through the end,” Duff said.  He noted that not only does he have the Gun Sense designation but has been endorsed by the Connecticut Association Against Gun Violence.

D’Amelio said he would not support raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour.

“You think that livable wage is going to be passed onto you? You don’t think Stew Leonard’s will increase the price of milk?” D’Amelio said. “I am not saying we have to fight, but we fight what Amazon has done. They grew their business and increased it because they could afford it. We need to be able to afford it first, before we just artificially increase wages.”

Duff said he supports raising the minimum wage to $15, in increments, and many businesses support the idea.

“This should not be a partisan issue,” Duff said.  Polls show bipartisan support for something that “should be common sense. Take it up to level where people can live and support their families.”

D’Amelio said Duff’s record is “pretty bad.”

“We have to right the ship, we hit an iceberg and we have to fix this thing,” D’Amelio said. “If I had his record I’d be talking about all these giveaways too but it’s just not reality.”

Rabinow asked what specific steps they’d take to mitigate the impact of the Walk Bridge construction.

Duff said he has already worked closely with local businesses, the Maritime Aquarium and others.

To people who say the bridge should be welded shut and the river made non-navigable, Duff commented, “That’s just not reality.”

“The best thing for us to do is make sure we are advocating and working with businesses and nonprofits, everyone in the area, help make sure that the construction in the area is one that we can best manage,” Duff said, asserting that he had helped stop the state from taking Select Plastics and Perfect Plantings by emiment domain, and got the Maritime Aquarium $34 million to build a new theater.

He’s working with Spinnaker Real Estate to manage and mitigate impacts to Ironworks, and “when the Walk Bridge gets stuck open, it’s a $100 million a day impact to our regional economy,” he said.

“The only way that would cost $100 million: if there was $100 million cash in the train. It was two weeks that they said that’s $100 million,” D’Amelio replied.

He had been to a meeting where the Connecticut Department of Transportation was “ramming” the bridge down everyone’s throat, and “we have nothing to say about it and it’s just common sense,” D’Amelio said. “They are sitting there telling us that a fixed bridge would be harder to assemble than a lift bridge. It doesn’t make sense.”

Both candidates said they support the “transportation lockbox” ballot question, which would reserve transportation-related revenue such as the gas tax could only be spent in support of transportation.  Asked about tolls, Duff said, “I have not had a position yet on tolling. I do know we cannot do tolls just on the borders. The federal government will not allow us to do that.”

“I don’t understand how the Senate Majority Leader can’t have a position on something that has been on every TV, every conversation,” D’Amelio said.

Connecticut signed a deal with the federal government when it eliminated tolls and gets paid for trucks coming through, he said, announcing opposition to tolls.

“There is no proof that it’s even going to be profitable,” D’Amelio said.

In closing statements, Duff said, “I still love the job…. I continue to want to stand up for the people I represent.”

Public service is his passion, he said, and, “It’s not necessarily about the laws that we pass, although they’re very important. It also has to do with what we do in the community. We didn’t have any questions tonight about constituents services and helping those in need, whether it’s garbage pickup in the day or whether it’s an issue of working with somebody who calls about a health care issue or an issue with the Department of Social Services, or an issue with a business. But I have a very strong track record of doing that as well.”

He’s also brought back funding, and, “There’s not one redevelopment project here in the City of Norwalk that hasn’t had state support and state partnership, along with the City,” he said, adding that the state is helping to fund school construction and renovations.

“This isn’t easy,” D’Amelio said. “This is really tough and Bob has done a great job serving his community.”

D’Amelio said that when he returned to Norwalk after living in New York for a while, he thought Duff was a “good old guy.”

“I applaud him and I know we kind of went after each other tonight but it’s part of politics. Hopefully we’ll be able to be friends and everything will be great,” D’Amelio said.  He described himself as a self-made person who “grew up from nothing in this town,” put himself through Norwalk Community College and the University of Connecticut, and then started his own clothing brand.

“I am a doer,” D’Amelio said. “I am someone that can get things done. I think the big problem that I have seen in this City and this State and this Country is the partisan politics…. I know Bob has been part of the fabric of this community but I think we all realize we need some change and hopefully I’m the person you decide to choose.”

53 comments

DrewT October 26, 2018 at 9:05 am

Marc was Passionate, Open, straight forward and honest!! He gave great responses and I am 100% Confidnet that he is our Next Senator truly representing Norwalk and Darien!! This is the change and jump start our City and State need!!! Please Vote Marc D’Amelio On November 6th!!!!
#enoughduff

B Meek October 26, 2018 at 9:32 am

“We didn’t have any questions tonight about constituents services and helping those in need, whether it’s garbage pickup in the day….”

Bob’s run of 16 plus years at this is grounded in his constituent services, no doubt. He even helped me with a local issue years ago, but now I see the folly in this and the tremendous price Norwalk has had to pay. While Bob is worried about local DPW issues, his peers in Hartford are more concerned with how they can siphon off more money from Norwalk and Darien.

When Bob first went to Hartford, Norwalk funded 10% of its local budget with state grants. Today, it’s 5%.

The same year in 2002, our debt was $12 billion. Today it’s $54 billion, not including long term pension obligations. What do we have to show for that? A theatre with no acts and some goodies at the Aquarium. On a pro-rated basis, Norwalk should have seen the benefit of $1 billion in bonded projects….where is it?

The same year in 2002, UConn in state tuition cost $7k, today $32k.

I could go on.

Facts matter. And the fact is we need change.

Piberman October 26, 2018 at 10:17 am

The deterioration of CT’s finances and economy under Democratic rule these past 8 years speaks loudly.
Sen Duff has supported the CT leadership team. CT is widely recognized as a failing State under the worst management in the nation. Why prolong the agony with returning Democrats to Hartford. We already know their “Playbook”. Ever higher taxes to support their favored constitutents – our public Unions among the highest paid in the nation.

Jeff October 26, 2018 at 11:11 am

@Piberman There is plenty of blame to share among the Republicans and Democrats for Connecticut’s financial mismanagement and it dates much further back than 8 years.

Rusty Guardrail October 26, 2018 at 1:25 pm

Here in Norwalk, the entire administration and Council deserves to be dumped.

But I won’t vote to send ANY Republican candidates to Hartford.

CT population loss = reapportionment after 2020 census

Reapportionment by GOP = Republican CT reps in the House in DC = support for: tax cuts for the rich, defunded IRS, defunded EPA, defunded public school system. reduced Medicare, reduced Social Security, institutionalized racial discrimination AND unquestioning support for a lying incompetent criminal president who buries any Congressmen/women who oppose his random scattershot decisions.

Alan October 26, 2018 at 2:01 pm

Plenty of blame is right,but Malloy has spent eight years blaming everyone but himself and his lame failed policies. The legislature,controlled by a single party since 1992,is the main culprit and the voters are getting what they deserve.
It can’t continue forever, but it can continue for a long long time.
Too bad.
The state was nice.

Mike Mushak October 26, 2018 at 8:08 pm

@Bill Dunne, you shouldn’t insult Marc D’Amelio by calling him Peewee Herman. You should apologize.

I watched the entire video and Bob Duff was well-prepared with facts and acted in a respectful and diplomatic manner, and is someone I am proud to say I support. Bob has been there for us on so many issues over the years that I can’t list them here or I’d be writing all night.

Also, Trump is saying at his racist rallies that a “vote for any Republican is a vote for Trump.” That’s reason enough for everyone with a conscience to vote Democrat on Nov 6th. We certainly don’t need Trump supporters in Hartford representing Norwalk. We are much better than that!

Ron Morris October 26, 2018 at 8:46 pm

“D’Amelio said it’s good to have legislators fight for their towns but he didn’t think he wanted someone who has never started a business and never written checks with his family’s money to meet payroll.”

So tell us a little about you business Marc as all I can seem to find is a nonsense facebook page , a picture of a non decrepit building and a inactive website. What is your Dun and Brad Street Number so we can research you business experience??? Also let’s see some tax returns.

Oh and you seem to talk alot about what Duff is doing wrong, yet you say ZERO about how you will fix it.
I bet Marc never replies to his Dub and Brad street info.

DrewT October 27, 2018 at 8:12 am

@angrymikeM And once again paying any and all Republicans as racists. {…} That’s like saying you and all Democrats are just plain morons. And of course that is not true {…} We the people of Norwalk as you are appointed person should be made to RESIGN!! Your Bullying and Nasty comments are truly reprehensible and I’m sure goes against The Democratic Mayor’s Standards of conduct for someone in your
Position. This is now your last warning. I will truly make a formal complaint to the Common Council regarding the lack of civility and ethics should be removed. And again Nancy and Bob Need to ban you from this Blog like they did Donna and Brian!

Edited to remove two insults, a violation of the comment policy. https://www.nancyonnorwalk.com/comment-guidelines/

Bryan Meek October 27, 2018 at 8:29 am

Anagram for Sir {…}. What would the defenders of the status quo do about our 4th worst infrastructure, only shrinking economy in the 50, and about to be downgraded to junk status debt? An empty chair would do better for the state than the current majority simply by doing nothing.

Edited to remove an insult, a violation of the comment policy. https://www.nancyonnorwalk.com/comment-guidelines/

Mary Pugh October 27, 2018 at 9:06 am

Republicans are trying to pull off one of the biggest cons in Connecticut history. What’s the con? Convincing yNutmeggers that Connecticut is an economic and fiscal basket case headed for bankruptcy, and it’s Dannel Malloy’s fault. Says, Bob Stefanowski. “I will clean up the mess that Dan Malloy created.”

{…}

Edited to remove an opinion piece which was re-printed in its entirety from another publication without permission. To read the opinion piece, see https://greenwichfreepress.com/letter-to-the-editor/goldrick-dont-buy-the-republican-con-113988/

Curious Voter October 27, 2018 at 12:17 pm

@ Rusty Guardrail, you nailed it.
I have voted for repubs in the past that are great people who I consider friends and they care about Norwalk I’m sure. What I see from them now is silence about the current resident of the White House and calling him out on his divisive, bullying rhetoric bs. Why are they scared to speak up, unless they agree with the guy. So there is absolutely zero chance of me giving my vote to ANY repub because of their silence when we need their voices. We can’t take a chance on having this {…} coming to our state/city through closet supporters of this racist (my opinion) man forty percent of American voters support!
Think about it, he already told us he’s a Nationalist, code for white nationalist, which is a buzzword for white supremacy. WTH!! Those looking for our votes aren’t publicly denouncing this! Tells me they agree with him until they say it out loud that they don’t agree, but will they lie about not supporting a racist to get our votes (probably)? We don’t know, that’s why we can’t take a chance on voting for any of them. All we hear are crickets when it’s time to stand up to the bs from this guy! I have to add that not all of his supporters are racist I’m sure, but the supporters that are silent when he makes racist statements or takes racist actions, well you get my point.
We have to ask politicians and our fellow voters, that if you support this racist are you racist too? It’s due time to call them out!

Edited to remove a vulgarity, a violation of the comment policy. https://www.nancyonnorwalk.com/comment-guidelines/

Patrick Cooper October 27, 2018 at 3:06 pm

Mary Mary that’s quite contrary to what everyone in Norwalk knows – but as Bob’s house mate you delineate – facts spun to alter how much CT blows.

Now Bob was slick he stuck to the script and promised us golden days ahead. But as an economist said, keep those democrats fed, and you’ll be waiting until your dead.

Sheri M. Brown October 27, 2018 at 3:45 pm

Mary,

Thank you for this very informative, thoughtful, and truthful synopsis relative to Connecticut’s financial viability. Unfortunately, there are many people who are misinformed about the financial/economic realities in the state of CT, at the same time, the ‘con’ story gets repeated more often, and as a result, it gains more traction.

Ron Morris October 27, 2018 at 4:56 pm

Yes Patrick Cooper you are correct Mary’s post is quite contrary to what everyone in Norwalk knows. The reason for this is simple. The Republicans are so good at spreading lies. We see this here in CT and in Washington. Thank You Mary for the truth and than you Bob for all you years of service.

Once again Marc tell us a little about you business as all I can seem to find is a nonsense facebook page , a picture of a non decrepit building and a inactive website. What is your Dun and Brad Street Number so we can research you business experience??? Also let’s see some tax returns. If you want to brag about your business experience be prepared to put up.

Rick October 27, 2018 at 5:11 pm

Emily Munson wrote she is with a Democratic publication where you dont expect the truth or bad news before the election.

Four of the state’s five largest cities — Bridgeport, New Haven, Hartford and Waterbury — are struggling near financial insolvency, with high unemployment, low property values and snowballing debt.

Danbury, Stamford and Norwalk and have fared better, but still can’t compete with Boston or New York to draw the businesses and millennials that experts say the state needs for an economic turnaround.

Mary does well but to use the word con in defending Duff its hilarious.

His own party has him packing up his office up they too have had enoughofduff. The old vote is dying off physically Bob you haven’t got enough living in Florida to make it a landslide, yet good job on the absentee ballots advertising.

miserably managed GE paid no corporate tax to Connecticut. Mary doesn’t want the fact where GE was here their company their employees interacted with real taxpaying business’s by merely having 1,000 of employees here? No one every spent a dime outside of GE’s umbrella? The conversation you were having with yourself has gone off the rails.

Mary its not about what Bob has or hasn’t done its how he goes about it that leaves a foul taste with most of us.

He new sober houses were coming to Ct and did nothing even Murphy has a bill that could of helped us but dropped it for contributions.

Look what others are doing Duff had almost two years and nothing.We are shaming those who have Duff signs by simply explaining the Half way house is opening, their jaws are dropping. The news is very selective right now before the election a Democratic tactic that’s not working this time.

Look at what others are doing , tell us what Bob has done to protect every neighborhood in Norwalk or even the State?

https://pix11.com/2018/10/25/long-island-families-take-on-unregulated-rehab-center-following-deaths-of-sons/

No matter who it is and what party a 16 plus year run needs to come to an end when the story has more tragedy than results.

I see Darien woke up this year and found the cookie jar was empty Bob’s and now theirs.

miserably managed GE paid no corporate tax? Ct hasn’t matched deals where even incentives didn’t work and companies were more than happy to buy out of deals and leave CT well after Dan gave out our money for short lived growth?

Isabelle Hargrove October 27, 2018 at 5:53 pm

I am so glad that Senator Duff and his campaign manager, Mary Pugh, are so proud of their record. It’s too bad the results of all their hard work are so abysmal.

I am Marc D’Amelio’s campaign manager, so don’t take my word for it. Instead, read what the editorial board of the Wall Street Journal wrote the same day Senator Duff sat in front of Norwalkers touting his wonderful record, only hindered by the great flood of 1955.

https://www.wsj.com/articles/a-connecticut-rescue-plan-1540509346?fbclid=IwAR1MWYWJ72NAtJKhnua6I-NAlkHns3wzIa47armSmsFffpdB_0zF67brMMs

Between the debate the other night and this diatribe from Mr. Duff’s campaign manager, Mary Pugh, voters now have a very clear understanding of what Mr. Duff plans to do should we send him back to Hartford. Simply stated, more of the same greatness he has accomplished so far.

If you are happy with our economy, taxes, our state’s fiscal health, and the funding Norwalk gets back from the state, then by all mean, coronate Mr. Duff one more time to valiantly stay the course.

But if you are looking for different results, then how is sending Senator Duff back to Hartford for 2 more years going to help us?

Bryan Meek October 27, 2018 at 6:03 pm

Who needs the Wall Street Journal’s recent report of CT’s economy having shrunk almost 10% under Malloy’s terms when Duff’s state paid campaign manager can tell us everything is just hunky dory. Norwalk’s real estate has lost $2 billion in valuation over the last 8 years too, but it doesn’t matter when we can just have ice cream and pasta and pat each other on the back. I wonder if Duff’s campaign will release the 1099s that it should have sent for the hundreds of thousands of dollars given to Mary’s company over the years for organizing all the taxpayer funded ice cream socials….or was the income even reported by her company that is registered at Bob’s home address? Don’t you just love how everyone who lives off of government thinks everything is just great?

Rick October 27, 2018 at 6:03 pm

To those foolish enough to think voting as a Republican in the past means you will be voting for Trump again I was always under the impression unless you mark the ballot it never automatically goes to the candidate .

It is absurd to think Voting for Marc is a vote for Trump shows how shallow some voters are Keeping a lame party candidate over Ct needs seems how Ct got into this mess.

Would of been nice to have someone in DC over he last year or two who could of worked with Trump than to spend every available moment fighting him. What money actually came to Ct in the last year or two that was substantial gain for our state?

Ever hear of taking the money and running?

Himes Murphy Perone and Duff have displayed just that only problem is its been our money.

Bryan Meek October 27, 2018 at 6:20 pm

And those of us who get to pay for those who live off of government, get to call us con men and ridicule GE for not paying taxes.

Ask Fairfield who just lost $2 million in property tax from the GE conversion to SHU feel about that.

Ask the 10,000 displaced GE workers if they are happier now that their 500 million in income and property taxes paid are now going to other states?

As for Debt, it has increased by $42 billion under Bob’s tenure. Pound for pound, Norwalk should have received $1 billion in direct projects. Can we have a list of those projects in Norwalk please? We know Bob has supported billions in projects for that help Hartford county this year alone. Besides $5 million for HVAC at the mansion and $30 million for the school projects he first tried to scuttle, can we get a full listing of direct capital investment recently besides POKO and the Theatre that has 2 acts a week?

DrewT October 27, 2018 at 6:23 pm

@mary I’m curious of what part of Fantasy Land you live in exactly?! The state is on the verge of financial ruin! We rank last is so many categories of growth it’s scary. We are waking into the next Bugget Cycle with a $5 Billion Defecit! Our economy is stagnant and going backwardss! You and Bob can twist this all you want but everyone in this state knows the truth! But you want to call it a “Con Job” that’s fine too in less then 2 years reality will hit in a bad way! Keep sending the Dems and Bob back. Ann’s folks is the reality we all face!

Bryan Meek October 27, 2018 at 6:30 pm

Also, as for building schools. Thanks to the State and laws that Bob Duff has helped to write and supports, school construction costs 2 to 3x what it would for a private company to do the same types of projects. The state reimburses Norwalk 32 cents on the dollar for construction that costs 50 cents on the dollar too much thanks to these laws. It’s the main reason why Norwalk hasn’t built a new school in nearly 50 years. It’s why the state’s schools and infrastructure is rated 4th worst in the country.

As for teachers retirement system. Norwalk pays over $500 million to Hartford every year in income, sales, and the other 300 different taxes on the books. We get back about $30 million, so spare me that the state is picking up our retirement costs. The reality is Bob’s legislatures have been fleecing the system which is amongst one of the worst funded in the world.

Being called a conman by a liar is rich.

Bryan Meek October 27, 2018 at 6:35 pm

One last fact, they are counting job losses at the casinos as state workers even though they are on the payrolls of private enterprises. This is where all the job losses have come from by state Government, who gets to classify these as government workers because they technically work for a sovereign government the way the laws are written up. Who exactly is a con man?

Ron Morris October 27, 2018 at 7:22 pm

Isabelle Hargrove

As Marc’s campaign manager I will post the same question to you that I did to Marc and he has failed to answer.

Tell us a little about Marc’s business as all I can seem to find is a nonsense facebook page , a picture of a non decrepit building and a inactive website. What is his Dun and Brad Street Number so we can research his business experience??? Also let’s see some of his tax returns. If he wants to brag about his business experience he needs to be prepared to put up.

Andrew October 27, 2018 at 8:42 pm

I congratulate Mary Pugh for doing her part to protect jobs in the state of Connecticut, especially her job as Bob Duff’s campaign manager. Since 2008, according to the SEEC Campaign Reporting System, The SONO group, which is an LLC registered at Bob Duff’s home and for which Mary Pugh is the President, has received over $450,000 from Bob Duff thanks to the Citizens Election Program, a taxpayer-funded program that Bob has fought hard to protect. Hopefully, her landlord, Bob Duff, isn’t gouging her on rent. Could Mary’s rent be a form of “kindness comes back to you”? How about Bob Duff’s assistant in Hartford, Dean O’Brien? As a state employee, Dean is paid out of our tax dollars too. But that didn’t stop Dean from paying for campaign ads for Bob Duff as treasurer of Third Street PAC. That’s one of those SEEC violations that should be looked into but probably won’t.

In July of 2017, Atlantic Monthly, not exactly a conservative bastion, ran a cover story about the failing Connecticut economy. The principal reasons for a lagging recovery, according to the article, are 1) businesses are leaving and 2) people are leaving. I’m not sure how Mary Pugh got it right and the Atlantic got it wrong. Then again, she seems to be well compensated to massage the truth.

The Connecticut Business & Industry Association’s 2018 survey tells a different story about confidence in the state economy. Business leaders disapprove of the legislature’s handling of the economy and want the next governor to focus on cutting spending and reforming state employee retirement benefits, something the SEBAC agreement that Bob Duff supported did not do. In fact, the SEBAC agreement tied the state’s hands with regard to layoffs and pension liabilities for years. Only 18% of survey respondents believe the economy will grow in the next 12 months. Fifty-two percent believe the economy will remain flat—not exactly a win for Duff—and a whopping 30% believe we’re headed downward. The same survey gauged confidence about the U.S. economy, with 85% saying they believe the domestic economy will grow over the next year. When asked why Connecticut’s economy should remain a recovery outlier, the business leaders blamed government mandates at the state level and high business taxes. The huge fixed costs in Hartford are dragging everyone’s heads down, especially business leaders. And without business, Connecticut will continue its relentless march towards welfare state status, which makes sense when you’re relying on taxpayer money to pay your rent.

Mary Pugh October 27, 2018 at 9:49 pm

I did not write that post see below …. lost the attribution on the quick the cut and paste I thought it summed things up well.
Oct 27, 2018 9:06
Letter to the editor submitted by Sean B. Goldrick. Goldrick specialized in Asian equity markets as a financial professional. He served two terms on the Greenwich Board of Estimate and Taxation.

Republicans are trying to pull off one of the biggest cons in Connecticut history.

https://greenwichfreepress.com/letter-to-the-editor/goldrick-dont-buy-the-republican-con-113988/

Bryan Meek October 27, 2018 at 10:10 pm

If you watch the most recent debate between Bob, Ned, and Oz, even Ned Lamoy is on record saying the state’s financial picture is a disaster and of course that only he can fix it with tolls and providing free WiFi..

I guess he is a con man too when he says our state is a fiscal mess..

Sorry we need people watching the store instead of traffic and weather.

Lisa H October 27, 2018 at 11:12 pm

Shouldn’t the first Mary Pugh post be removed since she didn’t write it? It took over 12 hours for a 2nd post saying she didn’t write it but it was copied verbatim from a website with no reference to it in the original post?

Ron Morris October 27, 2018 at 11:24 pm

WOW Lisa are you trying to stifle free speech. I guess that all you guys have left now that Marc has no chance of winning…Thankfully..

Ron Morris October 27, 2018 at 11:40 pm

Hey Marc Woolworth’s was never on Wall Street so try again. It was Green’s. WOW talk about lost. Still waiting for your companies Dunn and BradStreet info.

Lisa H October 28, 2018 at 12:11 am

Ron Morris – what are you talking about? Mary Pugh’s original post above was copied verbatim from Sean Goldriick’s Letter to the Editor. See her 2nd post. The original post should be removed as it does not reference the actual writer of the post and appears that it is written by Mary. Since so many comments are edited here, I would think that it is appropriate to remove a piece that could be viewed as plagerism without the proper reference to the original writer and article in the original post. That is far from stifling free speech. Good day, sir.

Steve Mann October 28, 2018 at 12:05 pm

Mary, no matter what you wrote of didn’t write, the fact is that the state has fallen into a financial abyss. The facts speak for themselves and you can’t write them off to a Republican scam. 50% of pension obligations are unfunded. The deficit grows each year under Democrat rule. Property values continue to fall. Taxes continue to rise. Mr. Duff has been in lockstep with policy coming from Hartford. He’s by all accounts a decent individual but nevertheless someone who’s chosen to ride a train that’s headed down the wrong track. It’s time for a change.

karen Doye Lyons October 28, 2018 at 8:59 pm

Norwalk will have all voters go to the polls knowing that everyone who votes will have their vote counted. The State of Connecticut is not connected to the internet and uses tabulator scanners and paper ballots.

We work hard to uphold the intergirety of our Elections.
Thank you for voting on November 6th, our veterans gave so much to give you the opportunity. Please vote.

Sincerely,

Karen Doyle Lyons

Claire Schoen October 29, 2018 at 12:54 pm

It’s really easy to blame whoever is in office at the time — but let’s consider that there are other factors beyond our public servants’ control: aging/retiring population, Millenials who prefer to live in urban areas, a unique structure for state govt (no county govts) – etc.

Here’s an interesting read: http://www.governing.com/topics/finance/gov-connecticut-richest-state-fiscal-problems.html

PS. This article + video is an amazing example of why we are so lucky to have Nancy!!!

Marie October 29, 2018 at 3:10 pm

It was true that GE paid little in taxes. BUT (and this is huge!) 1) They paid 25% of all charitable donations in the state. They were the second largest source of charitable grants in the state. And when they left charities suffered enormously and the state had to assume a burden of millions in funding. And 2) Their employees lived in state and paid taxes.

We lost 25 Million a year in revenue. Fact. Not fiction. And we have never replaced that money.

While charities were stunned and speechless that they were suddenly unable to afford their rent, Dan Malloy arrogantly and cluelessly blattered on that we did not need GE. And Duff is supporting that arrogant and foolish stance? Seriously?

Jeff October 29, 2018 at 4:25 pm

Marie, what do you suggest should have been done with GE? Massachusetts gave GE a $150 million incentive package. GE has stated that Massachusetts’ offer wasn’t even the highest, and some of the articles on the subject (see https://www.theday.com/article/20170528/op04/170529455 ) seem to point to reasons for relocating that I doubt Malloy could have addressed.

P.S. GE’s stock has decreased from 30 in 2016 to 11 today, so I doubt they would have sustained the pre-move charitable giving and tax levels.

Bryan Meek October 29, 2018 at 6:17 pm

Don’t worry about GE and the $150 million we couldn’t afford for them. We (thanks to team Malloy / Duff) paid $300 million for upstart Jackson Labs and a promise of 300 jobs. 5 years later they actually did deliver on the 300 jobs so we are only down 9,700 and a $150 million. And on the bright side Jackson Labs in 5 years has yet to produce one marketable product or patent or innovation. Lucky us, we have a thriving upstart (until their tax credits run out) and no longer have a blue chip company that owns half the worlds commercial airliners in service to name one set of tangible assets. In 5000 years, those 300 jobs will pay enough taxes to cover the investment. Whoohoo!

Bryan Meek October 29, 2018 at 6:19 pm

@Mary. Dan Haar’s analysis is great for the economically illiterate. Hey, I’d be super wealthy too if I never had to may my mortgage which is basically what he left out by excluding the run up of long term obligations. Credit rating downgrade is imminent so these numbers will go up even more, but who’s counting….Dan Haar isn’t.

Marie October 29, 2018 at 6:49 pm

You make my point for me, Jeff. It was not about the money for GE. It was the business climate.

Malloy was arrogant. He took a position that we did not need them. And in reality we did. If he had been less of a pompous ass he could have negotiated with them. Because if it was choice between Boston or New Haven he could have sold them on New Haven. Off the top of my head I can think of 10 selling points to argue that millenials are far better off in New Haven. The point is that he did not even try.

Jeff October 30, 2018 at 9:16 am

Marie, I’m not party to what was actually discussed, but the articles / quotes / comments I see online are contrary to your statement that Malloy didn’t even try. He is specifically quoted as saying that he had discussions with them and stood ready to work with them on issues of concern to be competitive with other states. At the end of the day, my feeling is that GE wanted to be in Boston more than they wanted to be in CT and couldn’t be convinced to stay. It is disappointing that good jobs left the state, but there is a point where too many incentives don’t make sense.

Steve Mann October 30, 2018 at 12:19 pm

My thought is that the GE departure was due to more than one factor. Clearly, GE has been misguided, or mismanaged or both for a number of years. Getting caught up in the subprime crisis exacerbated things. So a perfect storm arose. Kind of like a free agent signing. MA was able to offer (along with other suitors) enough to get GE’s attention, and the CT business climate was becoming less and less attractive, just when they needed a lifeline. So their departure may have been pre-empted by Hartford’s ability to work more closely with them, but it was their own doing that created the crisis leading to the move.

At any rate, the arrogance of the governor upon their departure also sent a clear message to any other firms looking to relocate to CT.

Don’t forget that at the time, Malloy was for all intents ordering Secretary of Transportation letterhead.

Bryan Meek October 30, 2018 at 12:34 pm

The PowerPoint presentation made as the last pitch to GE contained a picture of a Pratt & Whitney engine. One of the GE executives remarked to Malloy’s economic team “Do you even know what we do or make?” It’s hearsay, but totally believable..

The UBS building in Stamford had everything GE claimed to have wanted. So why didn’t it happen? Taxes, plain and simple.

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