Thursday, December 28, 2006

Year's end...

I hadn't mentioned anything on the blog yesterday about the passing of former President Gerald Ford. Mostly because I was working on a Hackett on Politics column for this morning's paper regarding the president. (If you're interested, that column can be accessed from the Bulletin's Web page at I was also curious as to the funeral arrangements, wondering if funeral or memorial services in Washington might overlap with my planned visit to the Capitol next week. But it appears I'll just miss it. Services in Washington are scheduled for Tuesday, and I won't be arriving there until late in the day Tuesday.

I'll be reporting from Washington all next week, updating this blog on a regular basis each day with what's going on.

It's expected that somewhere between 150 and 200 eastern Connecticut residents are intending to attend the swearing in ceremonies. Anyone reading this blog planning on going down? If so, send me an email at and let me know what activities you'll be attending and maybe we can catch up with each other.

I'm taking a long weekend, so there won't be any new additions to the blog after today until I start publishing Tuesday from Washington. I do hope you all have a great holiday - and a safe one.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

The holiday blues...

As expected, things have slowed to a crawl this week. It always does. It's the lull before the storm of activity that will be generated next week when both Congress and the state legislature convene their 2007 sessions. And would-be 2008 presidential hopefuls are holding private meetings with their closest advisors before officially declaring themselves in or out.

So what do you do to pass the time...try this for amusement.

My first attempt resulted in a 92 percent accuracy rating, 46 out of 50 on the mark, with the "four misses" only an average of 15 miles off the mark. How did you do?

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Bragging rights...

I don't normally bring my personal life onto the blogs, so I do hope you will forgive this one exception based on a father's pride. My daughter today received her first college acceptance letter from Stonehill College. She hasn't decided yet where she hopes to attend school next year, and has applied at about 10 schools. Stonehill was, according to her, "one of her top choices." But before commiting, she wants to wait and see what other schools may respond positively.

Her phone call to me this afternoon telling me of the news brought a smile to my face. I am so proud of her.

This just in....

Republican Gov. M. Jodi Rell has just announced two appointments for her new administration, looking inside the state Republican Party and her own administration to fill two commission spots vacated last week when she accepted the resignation of six commissioners.

Former state House Minority Leader Bob Ward of Northford has been named the new commission for the Department of Motor Vehicles. A 22-year veteran of the state House, Ward opted not to seek re-election this year, and had been highly rumored to be named the new Insurance commissioner.

Also receiving an appointment is Deputy Office of Management and Policy Secretary Anne D. Gnazzo of West Hartford, the new Secretary of the Department of Admnistrative Services.

Another look at the 2008 build up...

Although few are willing to give U.S. Sen. Christopher J. Dodd's would-be presidential hopes much credibility, there's enough wiggle room in the build up to the 2008 campaign that it's hard to rule anyone out at this point. The preceived notion is that New York Sen. Hiliary Clinton has pretty much a lock on the Democratic nomination and no one appears strong enough at this point to snatch that away from her - with the exception, maybe, of Ill. Sen. Barack Obama.

Obama is vacationing this week in Hawaii with his family, and is expected to make his intentions known early next month. This little tidbit might help...

An Iows television station, KCCI-TV/Research 2000 poll of Democratic voters in Iowa shows Obama and former US Sen. John Edwards tied for the lead, each garnering 22 percent. Iowa's Gov. Tom Vilsack is running third with 12 percent, and Clinton is fourth with 10 percent. (Al Gore, 7 percent, John Kerry, 5 percent, and former Gen. Wes Clark and Ohio Congressman Dennis Kucinich get 4 percent. Everyone else is at 1 percent or less).

And to make things a bit more interesting, there are suggestions that former VA Gov. Mark Warner (a graduate of Rockville High School here in Connecticut) may be reconsidering his decision to drop out of the race last October - and is waiting to see what Obama does before deciding anything.

On the Republican side of the equation, that same poll shows Iowa's GOP voters preferring Sen. John McCain and former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani as their top choices, 27 and 26 percent respectively. Mass. Gov. Mitt Rommey is a distant third at 9 percent and former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich at 7 percent. The only other GOP potential getting support was Secretary of State Condi Rice at 4 percent. (The other GOP hopefuls pulled in 1 percent or less).

This would suggest to me that both the Democratic and Republican nominations are still pretty much up for grabs - and no one seems out of the running at this point.

What do you think?

Getting the discussion going...

As I prepare for my trip to Washington next week, I've been trying to read up on what is happening there as Democrats prepare to take control for the first time in 12 years - and I caught this little item in the New York Times.

The Times is reporting that House Democratic Leader, Speaker Nancy Pelosi has instructed her aides to begin immediately working on plans to make sure freshman lawmakers are positioned well for re-election in 2008. That includes appointments to some prime committees and sponsorship on some prized bills that should be approved easily in the opening days of Congress. And more importantly, start raising money for them.

The so-called "incumbent retention program" is a very detailed plan to fortify the re-election bids of incumbents who represent districts where President Bush has done well in the past, and for those who won close elections this time out.

That would seem to suggest that U.S. Rep.-elect Joe Courtney, D-2nd District, will do very well in the early days of the new Congress. Courtney defeated three-term GOP Congressman Rob Simmons by a mere 83-votes out of more than 240,000 cast - the closest House race in the entire country.

On another's beginning to look pretty clear that U.S. Sen. Christopher J. Dodd, D-CT, will make it official next month, and announce that he is making a run for the Democratic nomination for president in 2008.

So what you think about either of these items?

Making some noise...

As mccommas noted recently, the silence around here has been deafening. That's because I've been on some extended vacation time. But I'm back now, and we'll start picking things up this week - and next week we should be full speed ahead as I head off to Washington for the week and report on the opening of the new Congress.

I do hope everyone had a happy holiday. It was kind of nice having it wrap itself around the weekend the way it did - took away a bit of the pressures one might normally experience by having that extra day.

So, what is up with you folks?

Monday, December 11, 2006

It's got to be a "Monday"...

Well I'm playing city editor again today, which means reporting duties take a back seat. And, as I use to say when I was the city editor here, if it's Monday let have all the problems today so the rest of the week will be easy. Today I am being reminded of that old saying, be careful what you ask for - you might just get it.

Anyway...there is a silver lining to this Monday cloud, and that is I'm taking care of a large chunk of that leftover vacation time beginning tomorrow. I won't be around here for the next 10 days. (I am, however, making one exception in that I'm coming in briefly Wednesday afternoon when Congressman-elect Joe Courtney pays his first visit to the Norwich Bulletin editorial board since winning election in last month's mid-term elections. That story on what he has to say will run in Thursday's paper.)

The rest of the week and much of next week will be spent finishing my Christmas shopping, attending a few scheduled Christmas parties with friends and family...and generally enjoying the lead up to the holidays.

So what's up with you all as we await the start of the new legislative years in Hartford and in Washington?

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Tell me what you think...

Every year news oreganizations, and we're no different than the others, like to compile a list of Top Ten Stories. Since the Associated Press compiles the state and national stories, we here at the Bulletin tend to focus on "local" stories from eastern Connecticut.

Reporters are usually the ones who start the process by suggesting stories they've covered throughout the year, and then editors sift through those suggestions and select what we think were the 10 best stories.

But I'd be interested in hearing what you think were the Top 10 eastern Connecticut stories this year. Let's assume that we can all agree that the 2nd Congressional District race falls into that category - but what else?

Paying tribute...

It was 65-years ago today that Pearl Harbor in Hawaii was attacked. There aren't too many folks who were there that day still with us, and those who are, are getting up there in age. But two survivors of the fateful day will be honored tonight at special ceremony marking this anniversary.

The William L. Mercier VFW Post #5446 in Plainfield will host the ceremony at 7 p.m. The event is free and open to the public. If you need directions on how to get there, or want more information about tonight's ceremony, you can call the post at 564-5446. They're hoping to have a large turnout.


Obviously the big news of the day is the independent study group's release of its report on where to do go from here in regards to the War in Iraq. Bottom line, there is no easy answer to this one. But it does appear everyone is in agreement that what we're doing now isn't working - and it has to change.

For what it's's what eastern Connecticut's congressional delegation had to say about the report:

U.S. Sen. Joseph Lieberman:
“I commend the Iraq Study Group for offering a serious contribution to the discussion of how we should move forward in Iraq. I look forward to closely examining the recommendations. One thing is certain: There is no alternative to success in Iraq. We are engaged in a global war against Islamic extremists and failure is not an option. In the coming days and weeks, we must work together in a bi-partisan fashion to forge a strategy to prevail in Iraq. The freedom and security of the American people demand no less.”

U.S. Sen. Christopher J. Dodd:
“The Iraq study group conclusions and recommendations are very realistic and sobering at the same time. What is very clear is that the group has come to the same conclusion that many of us in Congress have felt for some time – namely that we are not winning in Iraq and we need a course correction if we are to have any chance of success. Our troops are absolutely doing their part. They are bravely and valiantly sacrificing everything they've got on behalf of our nation, and they deserve concrete bipartisan solutions that will help them fulfill their mission.
“I couldn't agree more with the group's conclusion that there is no magic formula for fixing the problems in Iraq. I also totally concur that we must set benchmarks for Iraq to meet as a condition of our continued assistance. Iraq must make progress on reconciliation, security and improvement in the daily lives of the Iraqi people. Iraq's neighbors and regional leaders should be included in finding a solution to Iraq's problems. The United States does indeed have long term interests in the region and a broken Iraq does not advance those interests; that is why the work of the group must be given very serious consideration by President Bush.”

U.S. Rep.-elect Joe Courtney:
“The people of eastern Connecticut sent a strong message of change in our war policy in Iraq on Nov. 7. The Iraq Study Group demonstrates some progress in recommending change from President Bush's 'stay the course' policy.
"However, the report leaves many questions unanswered that the new Congress must address, including how to move the warring factions into a workable power-sharing arrangement coupled with a time-table for re-deployment of our combat troops.”

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Back at work...

U.S. Rep. Rob Simmons, R-2nd District, told me this morning that he is "considering" the possibility of making a 2008 bid to win back the congressional seat he lost to Democratic Congressman-elect Joe Courtney. However, Simmons would not say when or if a decision would be made. Meanwhile, he confirmed that he has received a number of job offers from industry, but declined to say from whom.

Because of the closeness of the congressional race - decided by just 83 votes out of more than 242,000 cast - it's not surprising that Simmons would consider another run. He has to be at the top of everyone's list of potential GOP challengers to Courtney in two years. Nor it is surprising that he is also be courted by industry groups.

Courtney, meanwhile, is back in Washington this week for a series of Democratic caucus meetings as Democrats plan to regain control of Congress next month - something they haven't had in 12 years. The new Congress will be sworn in on Thursday, Jan. 4. And as I mentioned in a post here last week, I'll be in Washington that week reporting on the new Congress - and eastern Connecticut's new congressman.

So...what else is going on that you know about that I haven't yet heard?