Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Rowland Rising

Convincing businesses to move to depression lite Connecticut may be a punishment more exquisite than any suffered so far by ex-Governor John Rowland. The coming recession will not make the job arranged for him by Waterbury Mayor Michael Jarjura any easier, and it will spur on his critics who just might consider passing in the legislature a one strike and you’re out bill for delinquent politicians, provided they are a) Republicans who are named b) John Rowland. A bill so limited just might pass the sniff test of Democrats who cannot abide three strikes and you’re out legislation for violent criminals.

The Hartford Courant, at least editorially, has given a green light to the appointment. Rowland, like any other ex-felon, deserves a chance to make good, the paper averred in an editorial: “Mr. Rowland has a second chance. We hope he uses it wisely and well.” But the Courant also warned, “The job does carry liabilities. Mr. Rowland's administration set the standard for political corruption in Connecticut. He will be scrutinized for signs that he has returned to his old unethical ways.”

Aye, there’s the rub. Rowland’s critics in the media and in other quarters outnumber those in Connecticut who think the ex-governor, having ascended from Hell after his release from prison, would be a little cautious in the company he keeps.

Caution may not be enough. Among his critics will be business competitors and FBI agents armed with RICO legislation that makes it fairly easy to set up and catch former felons in their toils. Former Waterbury mayor Joseph Santopietro, newly released from prison and working as a consultant for Diversified Waste Disposal of Danbury, was very quickly pressured in a plea bargain to admit that he had participated in a scheme in which trash haulers conspired with each other to arrange routes that would not overlap each other’s territory. The prison doors he walked through after having done his time and paid his dues to society now once again have clanged shut on the former mayor, who seemed startled by his arrest.
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