Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Bring Back Honorifics

One possible solution to the growing acidity in communications, including political columns and increasingly rude bloggers, is to bring back honorifics: Mr. for men; Miss or Mrs. for women; and Ms. on those doubtful occasions when good manners is likely to get you castrated by a radical feminist in full fury.

Public discourse without honorifics sounds too much like a bar brawl. As anyone who has ever been involved in a bar brawl will know, there is a world of difference between saying 1) “Smith is an ass,” and 2) “Mr. Smith is an ass,” even when sorrowful bad news is brought to Mr. Smith in a bar. (As an aside, it should be noted that the absence of honorifics in bars has become especially troublesome since smoking, a much frowned upon habit that seemed to have had a calming effect on inebriated patrons, has been criminalized.)

The only thing that might upset bar patrons more than the prohibition of smoking would be the criminalization of hard liquor – not an impossibility when one considers the undiluted asininity of the new puritans -- or the drinking of beer in baseball stadiums. But the secular temperance folk who promulgated the law forbidding smoking in bars, thank Bacchus, have not got there yet.

Consider a mal de fleur plucked at random from a communiqué issued by al-Qaida’s man in Iraq, Mr. Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, who may or may not by the time this column sees print be associating in heaven with seven nubile virgins.

Some background is necessary. Two of Mr. Abu Musab al-Zarqawi’s ardent admirers, an Iraqi married couple, strapped themselves with explosive material, crashed a marriage ceremony in Jordan, the native land of Mr. Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, and pushed the “blow me up” button. The husband went off properly, but the wife failed to explode and later modeled her wired cummerbund during her interrogation by an unusually patient police chief. The people of Jordan were mighty sore at their native son, especially since there are religious prohibitions in the holy book of Islam forbidding the murder of innocent practitioners of that noble faith. The married couple whose ceremony was disturbed by rude Iraqi gate crashers was, by all accounts, innocent and Islamic. Realizing that Mr. Abu Musab al-Zarqawi had violated two religious prohibitions, Jordanians took to the streets and proclaimed Mr. Abu Musab al-Zarqawi a “coward”. Later his own family denounced him. "A Jordanian doesn't stab himself with his own spear," said a statement issued by 57 members of the al-Khalayleh family, including al-Zarqawi's brother and cousin. "We sever links with him until doomsday."

Around this time Mr. Abu Musab al-Zarqawi was struck, as if by a thunderbolt, by a bright idea. Something had to be done to restore his good name; so Mr. Abu Musab al-Zarqawi issued yet another communiqué assuring the home folk, some of whom he had arranged to blow up, “We love you more than ourselves.” His target was not Jordanians about to be wed but Jews and other sons of Satan like Bush, most often referred to in terrorist literature, sadly, without honorifics.

A few honorifics sprinkled through Mr. Abu Musab al-Zarqawi’s correspondence might make him appear more soft and cuddly.

Or consider a case closer to home. Miss Maureen Dowd, a columnist for the venerable New York Times, has lately come under fire for having written a book provocatively entitled "Are Men Necessary? When Sexes Collide.” It is not machete wielding men who are after Miss Dowd, but ladies of the feminist persuasion who, post publication, have begun referring to her ominously as “Dowd.” One feminist has already asked, “Is Dowd necessary?”

About her new book, Miss Dowd said recently in an interview with Mr. Howard Kurtz: “I thought that men would be bristly about it. But as it turns out, men seem to be dying to discuss the topic of men and women and where they stand today. And I didn't realize women would be so bristly about some points in it, because I thought they already knew that. I think I single-handedly revived feminism. They've been revivified to vivisection me.”

An incurable romantic, Miss Dowd is about to be rasped by old guard feminists, who ought to be mindful of the advice their mothers may have given them: A little manners -- and the strategic placement of an honorific -- goes a long way. As for Mr. Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, his mother ought to have told him when he was knee high to a toadstool that the trouble with bad manners is they sometimes lead to murder.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Doing the Math on Property Tax Reform

“Tax reform,” Democrat gubernatorial aspirant Dannel Malloy wrote in an op-ed piece, “should mean something very clear and very simple: The state must shoulder a far larger share of education costs. One of my first acts as governor would be to set a goal for the state share of education - an absolute minimum of 50 percent in the short term - and commit to reach that goal within a reasonable period of time.”

Malloy’s new tax reform measure is very much like Bill Curry’s old tax reform measure, which is not surprising since Malloy’s campaign staff is top heavy with advisors who previously worked for Curry. The idea, back when Curry was running for governor against John Rowland, was to provide tax relief to municipalities by having the state assume a larger portion of education taxes.

The state currently pays about 38% of the cost of education, down from 45% in 1989. A Governor Malloy would immediately increase the state’s portion to 50%. Assuming the legislature was to adopt Malloy’s program, municipalities would be paying 12% less in taxes, and the state would pick up the difference. The shift in payments would provide taxpayers with “relief” in the amount of … what?

If there is no net increase or decrease in tax receipts, the percentage of tax relief for taxpayers would be zero, all things else being equal.

The reason for this is not usually touched upon in debates about tax reform. It is not the municipality or the state that “pays” the tax. Taxes are paid by taxpayers; they are collected and distributed by municipalities and state government. Therefore, a net change of zero in collections will result in zero “tax relief” to taxpayers.

And zero is zero, as the mathematicians say.

However, it is not at all certain that all things else will remain equal if Malloy’s tax reform is adopted by the state legislature. Some economists and students of the legislature argue that the 12% shift may well result in tax increases.

In the absence of a provision written into property tax reform legislation certifying that the state will not assume an increase of 12% in tax payments unless the municipalities reduce their property tax collections by a commensurate percentage , there can be no assurance of any property tax relief, and it is doubtful the reformers would agree to such a provision.

Even if relief is provided to taxpayers in the form of a reduction in town taxes, the long term effect of the Malloy/Curry reform still may result in increased spending by both municipalities and the state -- because property tax increases are more easily resisted than other tax increases.

True tax relief for taxpayers is achieved only when municipalities or the state reduces taxes. At the municipal level, taxpayers seem to understand the elemental connection between getting and spending, which is why voters in many towns have resisted proposed spending increases in multiple referendums. In my own town, a highly inflammable property tax increase was tamped down to a manageable level after three referendums, a pre-election ritual that routinely occurs in many towns. At the state level, where tax increases cannot be diminished by referendums generally referred to in oppositional literature as “a prescription for strife and discord,” incremental increases can only be opposed by voting out of office those who spend improvidently. For this reason, sanctions against reckless spending at the state level are less effective and, as always, open to interpretation, reinterpretation and misinterpretation.

Put in plain language, spending increases are easier on the hides of state politicians, which may be why both municipal and state policy makers favor a tax reform that shifts collections from municipalities, where citizens have a right of referendum, to the state, where the tax bite is both less obvious and less painful for politicians in its consequences. The shift in collections gives a new meaning to the words “tax relief:” Under a scheme in which tax payments are shifted from municipalities to the state, taxpayers may not be relieved of taxes, but politicians will be relieved of the consequences of improvident spending.

In the gubernatorial election Curry lost to Rowland, voters easily penetrated the rhetorical veil covering promises of property tax reform. Rowland’s popularity arose from a misperception that he was seriously concerned with the spending side of the budget ledger. Only a fiscally conservative Democrat serious about reigning in spending may have an even chance of defeating a governor as popular as Rell.

Friday, November 11, 2005

Rowland and His Enemies

Two appointments made by Governor Jodi Rell recently have come under criticism. Rell has chosen Ross Garber, formerly John Rowland’s attorney during his impeachment hearing, as a legal advisor and George Gallo as state chairman. Gallo managed Rowland’s 2002 campaign and was the executive director of the state GOP for a little more than nine years.

Ross Garber has been disqualified by his critics because he committed the unpardonable sin of defending his client to the best of his ability. But no one, not even highly sensitive political commentators, has accused Garber of accepting hot tubs from pay-to-play state contractors. And, despite objections from the authoritative New York Times, there is no reason why Garber should not be advising the Rell campaignon legal issues, especially since Democrats and others are even now making attempts to cast aspersions on Rell’s reputation through her presumed association with former Governor John Rowland.

Rell was Rowland’s Lieutenant Governor, during which time she no doubt busied herself crocheting, presiding over the senate and waiting patiently for the governor to die or to be carried off to jail by ambitious federal prosecutors so that, next in line in accession, she might become governor.

Lieutenant Governor Kevin Sullivan, who ascended to his present position after Rell assumed the job he would have preferred, has a more than notional understanding of sometimes wearisome duties of the office. The acerbic former President Pro Tem of the senate has complained more than once that he had not been invited to important meetings involving the governor and legislative leaders. It is a safe bet that when William Tomasso’s employees installed a hot tub at Rowland’s lake estate, the packing slip did not pass through Lieutenant Governor Jodi Rell’s office.

Even this early in the gubernatorial campaign, it is being said on radio talk shows by the underlings of leading Democratic legislators that Rell’s nose must have been very insensitive not to catch a whiff of the corruption pervading the Rowland administration. These charges are made by people who are reasoning backwards from what they now know to be true to what they could not have known with certainty before Rowland accepted a plea deal offered by federal prosecutors.

Meanwhile, super sleuths in the media have got into the nasty habit of throwing mud at everyone associated with Rowland, a tactic found useful by “Tail gunner” Joe McCarthy, until the mudslinger’s career was brought to a screeching halt by Boston lawyer Joseph Welch, who said, after McCarthy had defiled yet another blameless victim, “Until this moment, Senator, I think I never really gauged your cruelty or your recklessness. Let us not assassinate this lad further, senator. You have done enough. Have you no sense of decency?” The lad to whom Welch was referring was one of his assistants.

Garber, it should be noted, was not at the switches during Rowland’s administration, and it was Rowland himself who terminated the impeachment process by resigning his office, no doubt with the concurrence of his lawyer. The resignation aborted an impeachment hearing that was widely understood at the time as a ploy used successfully to pry Rowland from office. But does anyone, including Rowland’s most ruthless critics, doubt that the entire legislature breathed a sigh of relief at the announcement?

The aborted impeachment shut down a possibility, by no means remote, that chilled the blood of politicians who had in the past conducted business with lobbyists and state contractor who favored them with campaign contributions and amenities. Might not an impeachment get out of hand and flatten them all like pancakes? The same fear hovered like a goblin over the possibility of a trial.

The aborted trial that denied the public an honest and public accounting of Rowland’s participation in a corrupt administration was initiated by prosecutors who might have gone to trial had they not preferred to terminate what should have been an instructive public proceeding by arranging a plea deal with the ex-governor. None of Rowland critics, some of whom now throb with indignation that the truth about corruption in the state has been buried in negotiated settlements, have demanded that such plea bargains should never be permitted in the prosecution of elected officials.

Public men and woman should be given their day in court before the public they are sworn to serve. And if prosecutors cannot obtain convictions other than through extraordinary means, so be it. The certainty of a public trial or impeachment will keep both deal making prosecutors and politicians honest and upright.

That is the only way of outing the truth, and it is only because the truth still lies in chains that the new McCarthyites may be as successful as the old McCarthyites in slinging mud, some of which may stick to but not stain the reputations of honest and upright men and women.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Republicans in the Poor House

Said the wizened Republican Party activist, “Rell won’t have a problem raising money (for the upcoming gubernatorial campaign), but any other Republican unfortunate enough to embrace her ideas is going to find himself down and out.”

Governor Rell, dubbed “Snow White” by former Democrat Party Chairman John Droney, can well afford to forego tainted campaign contributions from the usual suspects, lobbyists and state contractors on the make, but her fellow Republicans may find themselves unable to mount successful campaigns by relying solely upon the kindness of strangers.

It is no secret that Democrats who control the legislature are not anxious to adopt before statewide elections begin many of the reforms proposed by Rell. In the absence of statutory restrictions, they can plausibly argue that the acceptance of funds frowned upon by Rell is perfectly legal, though it may be morally questionable. But Republicans who support Rell’s vow to forgo such funding in the current election season will have a very hard moral row to hoe, because they are being invited to commit political suicide.

Both Democrat and Republican contestants find themselves in the same pickle: They need one last swig at the bottle before they go on the wagon, if ever. In both parties one finds dissenters who argue that some aspects of the proposed reforms are unnecessary.

In the bad old days, money was donated to political parties and distributed to candidates by anonymous cigar chomping, party hacks who gave off a faint odor of corruption. This did not sit well with the reformers, and before you could say, along with Tammany Hall boss George Washington Plunkitt, “I seen my chances and took’em,” the bosses were shooed off the stage and a new crop of financial wizards, unattached to parties, were making donations directly to powerful politicians, most often incumbents or unelectable challengers. The new crew was non-partisan, spreading largess indifferently to Republicans and Democrats. Their anonymity disappeared when reformers insisted on what has come to be called “transparency.” Forced to report their contributions, the new campaign financiers were easily picked off by ethicists who argued persuasively that they must be getting some quid for all that quo and were almost certainly corrupt. At the very least, they were knee deep in “the appearance of corruption.”

So here we are, nearly a century after Tammany Hall was reformed by muckraking journalists, once again up to our ankles in muck. So gummy has the stuff become that anyone who comes into contact with it is permanently marked, as if he were Brer Rabbit laying into the proverbial Tar-Baby in the Tales of Uncle Remus.

The application of RICO statutes to political skullduggery and new promising techniques wielded by prosecutors has made the conviction of malodorous politicians a near certainty. For very good reasons, the professor who designed the RICO legislation -- intended to be used only against mob figures, gang bangers and drug dealers – said that political crimes should never be prosecuted under the statutes. A guilty plea to lesser charges was secured from state Sen. Ernest Newton by dangling punishments under his nose and then holding out the possibility that Newton’s wife might not see the inside of a jail if he copped a plea. In a trial, the truth is brought forward into the public square. But plea bargains are the graveyards of truth.

Will corruption be a sweepstakes issue in the coming gubernatorial campaign? Does the electorate care how politicians get the cash that fuels their campaigns? Will the clean campaign provisions hawked by ethicists further erode political parties and strengthen the lock incumbents have on their seats? What would a politics in which political parties are marginalized look like? Would it resemble the utopia of Thomas More or the dystopia of Thomas Hobbes, a theatre of human action in which politicians operate on the pre-social maxim “Every man for himself?”

These are the questions that ought to engage reformers. Politics in the United States has become more brutal and destructive as reformers have piled up reform after reform. National reforms have shifted the function of money raising from party regulars to Hessians outside the party devoted to advancing their own narrow interests. Here in Connecticut, the titular head of the Republican Party and her troops in the trenches have parted ways on several important issues, a routine occurrence in the Rowland administration. It’s always a discouraging sign when the General goes East and the troops go West on the eve of a decisive battle. But then, when was the last time a Republican governor in Connecticut asked not what his party could do for him, but what he could do for his party?

Monday, November 07, 2005

Rell's Petticoat Tails

Though the gubernatorial campaign is still in its infancy, Governor Jodi Rell’s prospects look promising. Attorney General Richard Blumenthal, the Democrat Party’s great white hope, is out of the race, and the governor’s poll numbers are stratospheric.

But in the recent past, improved prospects for Republican governors have meant little or nothing for the party with which they have loosely associated themselves. As one end of the see-saw goes up, the other end goes down. Former Governor John Rowland was popular enough to win a record three terms in office, but Republicans are still the minority party in the legislature. Rowland’s star power was not enough to pull other Republicans into office partially because all politics is local, but also because of the atomization of political parties.

The war on the parties, waged mostly by reformers who view them as vessels of corruption and division, has been hugely successful. There are no longer any party bosses, the role of the boss having been supplanted by the chief politician in the state, usually the governor. Formerly, bosses picked governors; now governors pick bosses, if one may regard much diminished party chairmen as bosses. The elimination of party levers, which invites voters to split their tickets, is directly related to the rise in importance of the independent voter. Party conventions are gaudy shows only. In the age of primaries, the time has long passed when the choice of office holders made by conventions was definitive. Reforms also have had consequences, and they often have not been the consequences intended by reformers.

There are only two ways to organize a political party: Parties form around ideas or persons. A party that forms around persons rather than ideas is not long for this world. Rowland entered office as a presumptive conservative and campaigned vigorously against a newly established income tax.

But a governor, once in office, must govern on behalf of all the people, if he wishes to be re-elected. So, once in office, committed politicians quickly moderate their views and govern on what strategists call “bridge issues.” A bridge issue is one that does not divide people along philosophical lines. The reality of governing, which involves assembling coalitions to move programs forward, itself tends to soften sharp political views.

That may be a benefit for governors, but an unprincipled convergence makes it difficult for voters to choose between politicians, not to mention parties. Rowland’s coattails were short – practically non-existent – because a coherent political philosophy is a politician’s coattails. Politicians who do not serve ideas serve themselves. In the end, Rowland’s political program was patched together from notions borrowed from both ends of the political spectrum. What better way to guarantee one’s longevity in office? But, as a whole, Rowland’s program was unprincipled. It was a bridge attaching nothing to nothing. Detached from the orbit of his own party’s leading ideas, he became the plaything of the forces that make or break most incumbents. Those who do not swim against the tide are carried along with it. You can either be a man or woman of substance -- or a cork on the tide.

Will Rell be any different, if less corrupt, than Rowland? Is she, as one commentator suggested, a woman of substance?

There’s little question that there’s a “there” there. It would be fatal for any serious challenger to attempt to slime Rell with mud drawn from the Rowland scandal. That lurid scandal has been effectively contained by aborted impeachment proceedings and plea deals arranged between federal prosecutors and indicted members of the Rowland team. But there is nothing inherently “Republican” about using political office for private gain, and Rell’s response to the scandals has been vigorous, far more potent, some would argue, than the tepid response of Democrat leaders.

But is there anything distinctively Republican about Rell? Does she have coat tails?

That’s the question. Corruption is a bridge issue, like high taxes and improvident spending, that cuts across ideological lines and appeals to voters without strong philosophical attachments to the major parties. Rell chose to bend rather than break on the question of public funding of campaigns, a measure supported by liberals in the Democrat Party. But then, Rell attached conditions to the measure unpalatable to certain Democrats who want to inherit, rather than reform, the gubernatorial office. It is a dangerous game of “chicken” that turns on the question: Who is the true agent of reform?

Casting a massive shadow behind the scenes, the larger and more important question – whether the proposed reforms will or will not result in better government -- remains very much in doubt.

Friday, November 04, 2005

The Supreme Court and Defiant Presidents: FDR, Lincoln and Jackson

“The Court, in addition to the proper use of its judicial functions, has improperly set itself up as a third house of the Congress - a super-legislature, as one of the justices has called it - reading into the Constitution words and implications which are not there, and which were never intended to be there.

“I want - as all Americans want - an independent judiciary as proposed by the framers of the Constitution. That means a Supreme Court that will enforce the Constitution as written, that will refuse to amend the Constitution by the arbitrary exercise of judicial power - in other words by judicial say-so.”

The author of these words was not Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, still less Robert Bork, an originalist interpreter of the U.S. Constitution whose name has given rise to the expression “borked.” To be borked means to be publicly assaulted in congress by ideologically committed legislators who profoundly disagree with the words Franklin Delano Roosevelt delivered to the American public in a fireside chat on March 9, 1937.

But FDR was not the only president to quarrel with the courts. At least one pronouncement of the court, the infamous Dred Scott decision, was roundly assailed by Abraham Lincoln in his “Speech on the Dred Scott Decision,” delivered on June 26, 1857.

Judge Steven Douglas had appeared at the same venue two weeks before Lincoln and declared that “whoever resists the final decision of the highest judicial tribunal, aims a deadly blow to our whole Republican system of government—a blow, which if successful would place all our rights and liberties at the mercy of passion, anarchy and violence.” Any resistance to the Dred Scott decision, Douglas said, “shall be forced upon the country as a political issue, it will become a distinct and naked issue between the friends and the enemies of the Constitution—the friends and the enemies of the supremacy of the laws."

Having determined that African Americans were not “persons” according to the law and so not entitled to constitutional protections, The Supreme Court, Lincoln said, had decided “that a negro cannot sue in the U.S. Courts; and secondly, that Congress cannot prohibit slavery in the Territories.”

Republicans offer no violent resistance to the decision of the court, Lincoln said, and then outlined several conditions that must be met for fair-minded people to give internal assent to a Supreme Court decision as a precedent: “If this important decision had been made by the unanimous concurrence of the judges, and without any apparent partisan bias, and in accordance with legal public expectation, and with the steady practice of the departments throughout our history, and had been in no part, based on assumed historical facts which are not really true; or, if wanting in some of these, it had been before the court more than once, and had there been affirmed and re-affirmed through a course of years, it then might be, perhaps would be, factious, nay, even revolutionary, to not acquiesce in it as a precedent.”

A close student of history, Lincoln recalled that President Andrew Jackson, had defied a Supreme Court decision on the matter of a national bank, and it was with great glee that he ran Douglas through with a sword taken from Jackson’s armory. Lincoln quoted Jackson: “Mere precedent is a dangerous source of authority and should not be regarded as deciding questions of constitutional power, except where the acquiescence of the people and the States can be considered as well settled.” But Jackson went further than even Lincoln was prepared to go in assaulting the preeminent authority of the court.

"If the opinion of the Supreme Court covered the whole ground of this act,” said Lincoln quoting Jackson -- who was to the Democratic Party of the day what Lincoln later became to the Republican Party – “it ought not to control the co-ordinate authorities of this Government. The Congress, the executive and the court, must each for itself be guided by its own opinion of the Constitution. Each public officer, who takes an oath to support the Constitution, swears that he will support it as he understands it, and not as it is understood by others.”

While Lincoln was not willing to go quite so far in his opposition to Supreme Court decision as Jackson or Roosevelt -- who proposed to pack a court that had resisted programs affirmed by the congress -- the arguments put forward by all three presidents show us, if nothing else, that resistance to Supreme Court decisions from the other co-equal branches of government is nothing new under the sun.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Rats In The Attic

"Sometimes you take a good piece of legislation, and you tack on a rat. This is some huge rat." -- Robert Genuario, Governor Jodi Rell’s budget director.

Actually, said State President Pro Tem Donald Williams in a disquisition worthy of a 12th century Dominican, or a modern lawyer, the rat that Mr. Genuario thought he smelled in Clean Contracting Bill was a mythical rodent.

Mr. Williams was not quite certain whether Mr. Genuario's metaphor was purposeful or not – It may have been negligence -- but both he and State Senator Donald DeFronzo called a news conference to protest the “lack of truthfulness” on the part of Republicans and call upon Governor Jodi Rell to “stop the campaign of misinformation against the Clean Contracting Bill passed by the General Assembly” which, Mr. Williams did not note in his press conference, is controlled by majority Democrats.

Mr. Williams was particularly disturbed that the possibly mendacious misinformation campaign waged by Republicans against a provision of the Clean Contracting Bill especially favorable to unions, a key constituency of the Democrat Party, continued after he had gone through the trouble of “setting the record straight.” And so, he and Mr. DeFronzo stepped forward to make some sharp and necessary distinctions between Republican “myths” and Democrat “truths.”

The problem with the analysis is that some of the “truths” put forward by Mr. Williams are stranger than fiction. For instance, Mr. Williams strenuously denies Republican claims that a provision of the larger bill he calls “the privatization protection section” was not, as Republicans claim, “put in at the behest of labor unions.”

Even though a scouring of Mr. Williams’s e-mails may not disclose a direct request from union leaders that he include in the Clean Contracting Bill a provision that would “set standards” for state contracts favorable to unions, this does not mean that Mr. Williams is not acting in concert with union wishes.

It is noteworthy that no union leader has yet stepped forward to denounce the provision as hostile to union interests, and for a very good reason: The provision advances union interests.

One liberal political commentator views the provision as a redraft of an earlier bill vetoed by Governor Rell, and she provides a short history of the redraft.

Union leaders earlier had asked Democratic leaders to fashion a bill that would declare a two year moratorium on the privatization of state services. That bill was vetoed by Mrs. Rell, who argued that the measure would put at risk services currently being provided through contracts with private firms. Since such contracts are negotiated by the executive department, legislation depriving the executive department of its constitutional prerogatives might be, not to put too fine a point on it, unconstitutional.

Democrats rolled with Mrs. Rell's punch and came back with the present provision that, in the words of Mr. Williams, “sets standards” for contracting work.

The union friendly provision, according to the liberal commentator, “scraps the moratorium idea and replaces it with a requirement for a cost-benefit analysis before a state service can be farmed out. The analysis must look at the effect that privatization would have on public health and safety. Also, the 59-page bill says bidders must make an effort to retain the affected state agency's ‘qualified employees’ and pay fair wages. Lastly, it exempts nonprofit providers until Jan. 1, 2008, with a couple of exceptions.”

The provision has driven a wedge between Democrats and groups previously supportive of liberal interests, such as the Connecticut Community Providers Association, whose president and CEO, Terry Edelstein, offered the following comment: "Despite assertions by the proponents that the ... legislation includes protections for community human service providers, we see no such language in the bill. We continue to believe that its provisions would devastate agencies and hamper their ability to serve nearly half a million children and adults across the state."

What is true of roses is true of rats. A legislative “rat” by any other name is still a rat – provided the provision is potent enough to sink the bill. The whole point of a rat is to avoid an honest up and down vote by including within a bill at least one provision that cannot be accepted by the opposition.

Since the Democrat dominated legislature can override a gubernatorial veto, Mrs. Rell should invite Mr. Williams to detach the privatization protection section from the Clean Contracting Bill and reintroduce it as a separate piece of legislation. In that way, both parties will get the reforms they claim they want.