"If ye love wealth better than liberty, the tranquility of servitude than the animating contest of freedom, go home from us in peace. We seek not your counsel or your arms. Crouch down and lick the hand that feeds you; may your chains set lightly upon you, and may posterity forget that ye were our countrymen!" --Samuel Adams
Tuesday, January 28, 2020
Looney To Toll Opponents: Shut Up, Go Away
“When asked by a reporter whether the [toll] hearing would
be opened up to the general public after hearing from experts and guest
speakers,” the Yankee Institute reported, “[President
of the Senate Martin] Looney said he was working out the details with House
Speaker Joe Aresimowicz, D-Berlin.
“'I’ve not had any discussions with the Speaker as to
whether or not it would be structured in a way to carve out a special
allocation of time for invited speakers or anything like that,’ Looney said.”
Nuff said. President Pro Tem of the Senate Martin Looney simply
did not want a raucous public hearing on tolling, which is very unpopular in
Connecticut, before majority Democrats were to vote in a special session on the
Democrat’s latest but by no means final toll proposal. Most people understand
the latest plan involving the tolling of large trucks only as a measure that
would in the future open the door to multiple gantries and the tolling of all
vehicles. Looney, some have speculated, did not want a public show of
opposition to tolling to divert a pro-toll vote among majority Democrat
legislators. If any reporter in the gaggle asked Looney whether he thought
avoiding public hearings on important issues of the day were compatible with his
understanding of the democratic process, his answer to the question was not widely ventilated in news
reports. Someone in the room surely must have surmised that Looney, Arsimowicz
and Lamont were insisting on a special hearing to avoid a messy but necessary
“A March 6, 2019 public hearing before the Transportation
Committee to consider Lamont’s previous, more extensive toll proposal,” Yankee
notes, “drew hundreds of people to the Capitol, and the hearing lasted over ten
In addition to snuffing public hearings, special sessions offer other advantages to seasoned politicians. Bills filed during special sessions fall under the category of “emergency certification,” a designation that shortens to 24 hours the time during which votes are called.
Numbers matter. Democrats now control both houses of the
General Assembly. Neither of the two legislative gatekeepers, leaders of the
Democrat caucus President Pro Tem of the Senate Martin Looney and Speaker of
the House Joe Arsimowicz, are strangers to public hearings.
Former Governor Dannel Malloy was perhaps the most effective
practitioner of silencing democratic opposition. Wielding a majority in the General
Assembly, Malloy, the first Democrat governor since former Governor Bill
O’Neill, simply refused to include minority Republican leaders in budget
discussions. After a bit, Republican leader in the House Themis Klarides burst
into flame and tagged the governor as someone who was tempermentally
indisposed to argue rationally with the Republican opposition party: “It’s his way, or the
Lamont, a strong Democrat wind at his back, is following in his predecessor's footsteps. Then too, so called "public meetings," the celebrated Town Hall
Meetings of familiar Norman Rockwell prints, appear to be disappearing in The
A Town Hall Meeting arranged by District 26 State Senator
Will Haskill early in January that was to feature Lamont caught fire and burned to the ground soon after
he had arranged to pack the meeting with pro-tollers.
Bulletin bravely probed the fraud: “In planning the event, Haskell reached
out to a progressive, pro-tolls Westport-based grassroots organization,
ReSisters. He said he did so to gauge interest in the forum, as he often does
when planning events in his district.
“Melissa Shein, a member of the group, sent an email
Thursday that contained the subject line, “TOP SECRET & URGENT: Gov. Lamont
Needs YOU in Westport, Tues., Jan. 7, 7PM.” The email asked recipients to keep
details of the forum a secret.
“That led a Hartford Courant columnist and a conservative
think tank, separately, to accuse Lamont and Haskell of conspiring to quash
public participation by tolls opponents — and thereby create the illusion of
widespread support for tolls.”
Packing town Halls by means of discreet invitations to supportive
groups may soon become the rule rather than the exception in Connecticut. The state's two U.S. Senators in particular, Chris Murphy and Dick Blumenthal, do not
appreciate being infrequently hassled by an upstart opposition in meetings
opened to the general public. The packing fraud is designed to cast a veneer of
public approval over tender issues opposed by healthy minorities. Dancing around public hearings on bills that affect everyone
in the state serves the same nefarious ends.
This is how Democracy is throttled – not by cruel masters
with truncheons, but by “servants of the people” who have grown accustomed to serving
their parties rather than their constituents.
Belatedly, Connecticut Democrats decided to hold a public
hearing on tolls – this Friday, 1/32/2020.