Tuesday, March 20, 2007


I'm in Hartford today for the confirmation hearing for former Congressman Rob Simmons. As most of you know, Gov. M. Jodi Rell has nominated Simmons to be the state's first-ever business advocate.

But I've been reading in some other publications and Web sites were some folks are under the impression that this is patronage position created by Rell to take care of unemployed Republicans - which isn't really the case. This position was actually created by the Democratic leadership in the General Assembly.

Last year, in her budget address to the legislature, Rell proposed combining the state's economic development agencies - bringing everything under one roof. But Democrats in the legislature rejected that idea, and instead decided to create this new position within the state Department of Community and Economic Development. Rell waited until after last year's election to fill the post - and, as it happens, Simmons found himself available (having lost his re-election bid to U.S. Rep. Joe Courtney, D-2nd District).

It's a four-year appointment that will pay an annual salary of $75,000 a year. The "office" will be funded at $535,000 a year and probably consist of a staff of no more than three, possibly four people - including Simmons. The primary responsibility of the position is to assist businesses, particularly small businesses, grow and prosper. Simmons will no doubt be questioned today on how he plans to do just that.


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