In One Eye

Saturday, July 02, 2005
 
Say what you want about Governor Clubwoman, she showed her stripes yesterday by vetoing the ethics bill that Connecticut's legislators had labored on for the last six months. In light of a lot of things—the fact that the veto was "announced ... at 4:30 p.m. on the Friday before the Fourth of July weekend," the fact that she sanctioned this bill from its inception, and, needless to say, our former unctuous governor's atrocities—this is an astonishing turn of events. "Democrats ... immediately began considering a legislative override."

The worst part of the veto is that it once more allows the executive more leverage in giving contracts to private businesses. However, this is where the clubwoman aspect—and the concomitant desire to please all of the people all of the time—of the state's chief executive comes in.
Rell's actions were apparently an attempt to ... avoid unwanted restrictions in the privatization measure.

Rell's office had received more than 100 e-mails this week from people fearing the far-reaching scope of the anti-privatization amendment [to the ethics bill], including parents of children with special needs who live in group homes run by private, nonprofit organizations. The nonprofit organizations, officials said, are not interested in taking jobs away from state employees, but are instead interested in operating everything from AIDS residences and homeless shelters to child psychiatric clinics and domestic violence centers.
In many people's eyes, however, this lame justification just won't wash.
"It's mind-boggling to me," said Senate President Pro Tem Donald E. Williams Jr. of Brooklyn, the highest-ranking senator. "It's like sinking the ocean liner to save the lifeboat." [And, indeed, vetoing such vital legislation as a result of receiving a mere hundred e-mails seems pretty crazy.]
Of course, the labor unions properly think the veto is ridiculous.
[A] spokesman for the State Employees Bargaining Agent Coalition called Rell's decision to implement some contract reforms through an executive order a complete "sham" that misses the mark on the legislature's intent to eradicate corruption from state government.

"She promised to clean up state contracts and she broke her word to the General Assembly," said Dan Livingston, the chief attorney for SEBAC. "This doesn't solve the problem at all."
Perhaps the most damning assessment is the following (emphasis added):
"This is exactly what John Rowland would have done," said Rep. Tim O'Brien, a New Britain Democrat who is vice chairman of the legislative committee that oversees ethics. "It is especially offensive that she is hiding behind children and people with disabilities while her true purpose is protecting private contractors. No wonder she announced this at 4:30 p.m. on the Friday before the Fourth of July weekend."
Needless to say, one can't be any more strident these days than to compare someone to our felonious former governor.

Now it's up to the Democrats. When Johnny Handout was around, they rolled over and played dead. This morning, they're talking a good game, but if they really want to walk the walk, they'll override this slimy veto. Since the contract reform legislation passed the Senate by a 34-1 vote and the House by a vote of 133-14, this should be easy. However, with the Republicans turning themselves inside out trying to justify their governor's ludicrous action—
Republicans said the anti-privatization amendment, part of the budget-implementation bill, would open a can of worms by preventing the expansion of nonprofit programs that serve the poor ... [They] complained that the anti-privatization measure, passed this week in a special session, was written too broadly, ... [and p]rivatization, Republicans said, is far more common in state government than some realize.
—such an overrride may be more difficult than it should be,