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Thursday, October 21, 2010

Third Televised Gubernatorial Debate: Foley v Malloy

This is the third televised debate between Tom Foley and Dan Malloy. This one is being held at Fairfield University. From the looks of things, the union slobs got in very early because you can see them sitting right behind the moderators all wearing their bright yellow union shirts. Well, that what unions get paid to do - work for Democrats and make a lot of noise. Republicans are too busy working. I'm watching this as a replay on but I know full well it was live at 3pm - which is when normal people are working.

Anyways, we have Face the State's Dennis House - he is usually pretty fair when he conducts interviews on his show. Most the questions he asks are softball questions which is why everyone running for office can't wait to go on his show. And then we have John Dankosky from National Public Radio (NPR). Well you know if they are from NPR, they probably reek of liberalism. I expect John to put pressure on Foley all night, and ask Malloy what is favorite color is. Honestly, speaking - anyone who works for NPR has a personal self interest in seeing Malloy win because it helps to preserve NPR funding and thus keep them employed.

I re-edited this and opted where it isn't obvious to put my comments in [brackets] so as not to accidently attribute my opinions to either candidate.

Here we go. First question to Dan Malloy.

House asks given that unemployment is at record high, what will you do in your first 100 days. Malloy talks about General Accepted Finance Rules and a plan to get out of the economic times. Malloy goes on about electric rates, and how bad things are. So far he's not answering the specific question put to him. All of his answers are great generalities about making things better but not one detail is provided.

I hope Foley answers the question. Foley talks about changing direction and how legislature makes the business climate unbearable. Foley wants to create a policy that will reduce budget deficit which we are being told is also scaring away business. Foley tells us that obtaining permits take too long to get business moving. Talks about one situation where it took 19 months to obtain a permit. Foley goes after the unions - which will like fire up Malloy because unions are in his pocket.

Malloy gets two minutes to respond and says we've had Republican Governor for 16 years and wants to see a new course, but again says nothing about what he would do specifically to make changes. [Someone should ask him how long the State Legislature has been in power since they really control the budget - I think since 1972.]

Foley comes back and actually does mention the Legislature's role in creating the budget including accountability for spending. Foley says "its untrue to say that the Governor has done this."

Next question from Dankowsky: Three managed care companies involved in Husky program made three million dollars and spent two percent on actually healthcare, how would you improve - what is essentially the ratio of expenditure on providing healthcare is increased [he is rallying against profits and its probably a fair question if true] . Foley rallies against National Healthcare, and then goes on to talk about how expensive Healthcare cost delivery is. [Not the best answer]. Talks about premiums going up because of uncertainty due to National Healthcare, and the hospitals not being able to charge back to the government for equipment, etc so costs are being passed on to patients.

Malloy wants to renegotiate insurers who are part of the Husky Program. [Well, easier said than done. Good luck there.] Malloy pulls out a piece of paper (a note) that he says someone gave him on the way in tonight. [Oh, ok... this isn't planned]. House doesn't intervene. Malloy then being the humble guy he is says the guy called him "Mr. Mayor soon to be the next Governor ... from his lips to God's ear". Apparently, the guy after losing healthcare now is happy to have received notice he has healthcare once again because of healthcare reform. So he's on the public dole.

Malloy: "I want to rule out excess profits, and limit the profit people can make when providing a service." [Oh this guy is going to be popular with businesses. He wants to chase the rest of the business out of Connecticut. God help us. Does he think people don't use electronic record keeping? Really?]

Malloy then goes into a diatribe about Foley wanting to deny people from getting hearing aids or Prostate Cancer Screening.
Foley says that Malloy is lying. Talks about reducing costs.

Malloy reads some document he attributes to Foley which outlines that a basic care package for small businesses approved by the Connecticut Insurance Commissioner - that is exempt from mandates. He says exempt three times. Malloy is having a disconnect because he is accusing Foley of not wanting to include mandates without defining precisely what they are.

Dankowsky ignores Malloy's comments and asks the next question of Malloy: "Do you support changes to the system of binding arbitration for municipal workers." Malloy: "No I don't". He is against the idea of Policeman, Teachers or Fireman going out on strike, and worried about people getting arrested. [Strange - if people don't misbehave, they don't get arrested]. He is a proponent of binding arbitration and claims that most decisions by binding arbitration over the last 18 months came out with zeroes, and then boasts that Stamford had double zeroes.

Foley: "Dan is starting to sound like a Union Representative." Some of the Union slobs in the audience ignore the rules and start to clap. How annoying. Foley goes on to say that State mandates are the cause for increasing property taxes, and mentions that some mandates require towns to collect revenue solely through the imposition of property taxes, which are steadily increasing and driving a lot of older people out of their homes. Binding arbitration being mandated by the state is overreaching. Union leaders want binding arbitration and Mayors and selectman don't want it. Proposes that all negotiators involved in binding arbitration should be members of the National Arbitration Organization and not just a bunch of locals who can be influenced easily.
Malloy retorts that Foley is against mandates, but happy his doctor is mandated to have a degree to practice medicine. [Sort of a wise-ass answer that has nothing to do with binding arbitration.]

Foley responds by changing subjects and asking Malloy if he can prove that Malloy has said something untruthful in his TV or radio ads if he would apologize to the people of Connecticut. Oh boy, that's a lead in. Malloy says its an interesting question he asks and goes on to change the subject twisting Foley's comments on providing healthcare free of mandates. Obviously, Malloy is taking this out of context. Foley says, "I'm just asking you a simple question." [Malloy uses the oldest trick in the book - he answers a question by asking another unrelated one. Poor.]

They banter back and forth and Dankowsky tells them they are going to get back to questions.

House asks the question citing a few examples, "As Governor how would you prepare for a State-wide disaster." Foley talks about the Federal Governments role, and talks briefly about state government's role. Talks about proper staffing and funding for emergency teams. Talks about Governor's need to be a strong leader and appoint qualified managers.
Malloy says that the Federal Government is not responsible for responding to emergencies, that it is the local firefighters and police (another chance to reach out to unions). Talks about how he responded to nursing home fire, flooding and drought conditions, hurricanes and power outages. [So what?]

Foley responds: Large disasters are coordinated through FEMA. [I think there is a disconnect with this question since neither candidate really answered it.] Malloy rips FEMA for not providing aid for the recent hurricanes, and takes a very unfair swipe at Governor Rell for not securing federal diaster relief funds. [Foley should point out (and doesn't) that both of Connecticut's US Senators and all five of Connecticut's Members of the House of Representatives - which are supposed to represent Connecticut's interests in Washington D.C. are all Democrats. If Malloy has a beef with anyone, it should be those charged with actually securing support from Washington. Missed opportunity by Foley to hit back. Damn!]

House asks about Privatization citing examples where there are successes like in Chicago with parking meters. Malloy is against privatization. He brags about unprivatizing some of the services previously privatized by his predecessor. [Of course, he's all about the unions, he would never defy them through transfer of jobs to the private sector.]

Foley goes on to say he believes that it doesn't make sense to use state workers to perform a service that can be done much cheaper by the private sector. He uses the example of Riverview Hospital and says the State of Connecticut pays out $922,000 per patient. (There are about 80 patients on the books). Says private contractors have said they could do this for half the cost which would result in a savings of about $25 million dollars per year. [Hmm. Republican or Democrat, someone should look into that0. Foley asks why we would have state workers pave roads if private companies can do it much cheaper. Fair question. Finally, Foley brings up the fact that Malloy will raise taxes.

Malloy sort of digs a hole digs a hole for himself on the tax issue by making something up about Foley increasing Property Taxes which Foley quickly denies and asks Malloy to be honest with Residents of Connecticut by telling them which taxes he actually intends to raise, and how much.

Question: Dankowsky: Commission led by business leaders produced a report regarding closing the achievement gap, having better teachers: Foley is in line with the latest Commissions Report including choice, money following child, assessments of teachers and principles. His plan is identical to the Commission's report. Also, wants to grade schools A through F. Wants a final exam for High School Students. Uses Massachusetts as and example where many of these provisions have been implemented and are showing success. [Solid answer].

Malloy goes on to say that the Commission should have been put together 8 years ago [another cheap swipe a Governor Jodi Rell], then says he testified at the Commission's hearing, and brags about how the State should have followed Stamford's Achievement Gap plans that he created. Hmmm? Malloy wants mandatory pre-K, and wants to extend the school year. Oh, boy who is going to pay for that, Dan? He wants to be our education Governor.
Foley slams Malloy by pointing out that Stamford has the largest achievement gap than any other city in the State.[ BAM!] Also, clarifies that Dan doesn't support the provisions that Foley listed above. Malloy skirts the issue, blabs about nothing, and wants to make change. [Poor answer.]

House asks about reducing costs within State University System. Malloy goes on to say that State University Managers are overpaid. Wants people to have "Connecticut Common Sense: They know when to move forward, and they know when to stand still." [Boy, he's creative, I've never heard that before. It doesn't even have any context. This guy Malloy can really talk, I give him that]. Malloy backtracks and says he supports UConn and supports the administration.

After rallying against the University Presidents, Malloy says he stands with them. [Yes, he stands with everyone who votes.]

Foley talks about retirement benefits being too large for Municipal workers. Foley says the costs at UConn continue to rise at a high steady rate. Worried about budget control at UConn is not under any single entity but under several. Wants to restructure the system.

Dankowski: Asks about Fairfield County traffic issues and problems on Meritt Parkway. Foley says the commission came out with a 200 page report which is not a plan. Surprisingly, he talks about creating high rail service from New Haven to Hartford. [Don't know how he proposes to fund this, idea. I think the congestion issue is sort of an odd question given all the other issues facing the state.]

Malloy wants to reduce the number of exits on the Merritt Parkway to reduce accidents, he then lists all kinds of public transportation ideas that would be enormously expensive. Wants more parking spaces.

Foley slams the General Assembly by saying that the money collected for transportation policy was diverted from the Transportation Fund to the General Fund so the General Assembly could continue their spending spree. [Good answer]. Malloy says its the Governor's fault. [Note: Malloy will NEVER criticize the Democrat controlled State Legislature or assign them ownership for ANY of the State's problems. He has followed the same rule of thumb in EVERY public appearance and in each of the debates.]

Dankowsky asks Dan Malloy to list three specific cuts he would make to the State Budget. [Good question actually]. Malloy says he need to look at the Medicaid System and go to Generic Drugs. [Note: Hahaha. So what if there aren't any generic drugs for the symptom or illness that a person has?]. Malloy says electricity costs are too high [Isn't Blumenthall campaigning on how he reduced electricity costs?] and then Malloy wants to streamline building projects. Sort of weird answer. He then lists several issues and problems. We learn Malloy can't count to three.

Dankowsky jokes, "Mr. Foley you can feel free to give us more than three". Foley attacks the $3 million dollars in additional budget spending. He promises to have a hiring freeze for state workers. Wants to use the commissions report on waste and duplication and enact those ideas. Use of outside contractors, and talks about Riverview Hospital savings. Transition Elderly medicaid patients to Community based care which he says patients prefer.

Malloy takes the low road and accuses Foley of putting mental patients on the street. Foley corrects him by saying he would not reduce healthcare spending.

House asks a "Sports Question": asks Foley if he agrees with the University of Notre Dame's agreement to play UConn provided that the game take place in New York or New Jersey, and not Connecticut's Rentschler Field in East Hartford. Foley wasn't familiar with the decision, and sort of fluffs the question. He says perhaps we don't have the same market size. He then goes into a discussion about Connecticut NOT promoting a professional team coming to Connecticut [allusion to The Whalers - this isn't a popular position he's taking] or building a stadium or venue. [Ugggh. Would have steered clear of that whole topic. Gesh!]

Malloy gets the chance to watch Foley flub the question and certainly doesn't do much better. He says he would have taken the coaches aside and told them we won't play Notre Dame, we will play someone else. [I don't think he understands the significance of playing Notre Dame for the prestige of the program, does he?] Says we don't coordinate the sports events in the Nation? He says we don't go after NCAA to host quarter finals and finals here in Connecticut. [WHAT? I guess he doesn't realize how often Hartford has hosted the Woman's NCAA tournament, and he doesn't remember how Hartford hosted the Men's first round back a few years ago - and few business even bothered to stay open to service the thousands of fans who came off of buses to see the games at the Hartford Civic Center). You don't get second chances after such a terrible response by Hartford].

Closing Statements.

Foley first. Foley alludes to the National Movement for change and that he is part of it. Talks about the fact that his business background will help him fix the problems and attract businesses to the State. Talks about the huge spending problem. Says he will not raise taxes but Malloy will raise taxes by about $2000 per household on average. Says he can stand up to unions unlike Malloy. Wants to be the education and jobs governor. And is not a career politician who will say anything to get elected.
Malloy: In a round about way says he's not going to respond to Foley's points. He then moves into his typical discussion about his own personal hardships, and listening to tapes designed for blind people because he had a learning disability as a kid. Gives a spiel about being a working class person quoting Mama Malloy. Goes on and on about dozens of alleged accomplishments.
In the final analysis it was a good debate between the candidates. Mostly issue-oriented, and very civil. Foley needed to come out stronger in this debate to leave a lasting impression, and I think he has improved over the past two debates, but I also believe he didn't come out with the knock out punch someone like him - who is behind in the polls needs to move even.

It's going to be an interesting two weeks. It will come down to what message resonates. Bibb and class war-fare versus Business competentcy and sound economic principles. We'll soon find out.

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