Episode Information

Corrupticut
Where We Live - with John Dankosky
Aired:
01/09/2009
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In this episode:

A governor, a few mayors, some state lawmakers - all in jail, or in trouble because of corruption

 

Episode Audio

49:00 minutes (23.52 MB)
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Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich faces almost certain impeachment by the Illinois House, a historic step that would trigger a trial to determine whether the Democratic governor should be tossed out of office.  The legislature there has been studying the possibility of impeachment since shortly after the governor's arrest on federal corruption charges.

Meanwhile, responding to a rash of public corruption scandals in Massachusetts, Governor Deval Patrick on Tuesday proposed steeper fines for ethics violations and other improvements to laws meant to keep government officials and lobbyists honest.

These stories serve to remind Connecticut residents that - hey, maybe it's not that bad here.  Our state got the label "Corrupticut" - after a series of high-level scandals, which landed a governor, three mayors, a treasurer and a state senator in jail - and several other high-profile officials in trouble.  

Today, Where We Live - we'll consider corruption in Government, in Connecticut and elsewhere - and consider whether the era of "pay for play" might be coming to an end. First we'll talk to CPBN producer Chris Matthews about his new documentary Corrupticut: A Look into Connecticut Politics.

Then we talk with Greg Hladky, a veteran captiol reporter who covered the Rowland Administration, Fairfield University Political science professor John Orman and Lennie Grimaldi, a journalist and former aid to Bridgeport mayor Joe Ganim.

Join the conversation!  Add your questions, suggestions and comments below.

 

 


 
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Dangerfield vs pundit elitism?

I was disturbed by the Friday (Jan. 8) broadcast at two points. First, a city worker from Waterbury called to talk about his observations about the prevalance of favoritism, neopotism and so on at all levels of government. In making his point, he referenced Rodney Dangerfield's movie "Back to School" and Dangerfield's nod towards "taking care of business", that is, greasing palms to get your way.

Unless I read him wrong, the radio host made a snotty comment, something to the effect that we didn't typically use RD quotes in dissecting politics. I'm no expert on RD, but as a popular culture figure who "couldn't get no respect" he made his own low-comedy social commentary, making swipes at every turn at the status quo of the big shots and their indifference to the common man.

I thought the host showed ignorance not to understand that this was what the whole discussion was about...how the elite laugh at the rules made for the little people.

Contrast this to the respectful tiptoeing around comments made by a convicted criminal, Mr. Grimaldi. Yes, he has served his time, but certain statements by him made it seem as if he hadn't accepted true responsibility.

Mr. Gimaldi in explaining his involvement with the Gamin scandal said that he (Grimaldi) had been accepting and helping with inquiries as to how he might help certain individuals might gain a little priority access. Then when the mayor learned of this, he wanted his cut of the action.

Mr. Gimaldi said that his downfall came when the mayor got involved and he got swept up into something where he hadn't fully understood the big grown up ramifications of his actions.  

In my estimation, he made it sound like he was sucked into the mayors' machinations, not that the mayor was coatailing on Mr. Gimaldi's. Mr. Gimaldi did not acknowlege that his bartering or selling access was wrong long before, and whether or not, the mayor was involved.

So the host gives the snotty (or is it snarky these days?) elitist bum's rush and eye-ball roll to the blue collar guy making a point. Yet, the hostnever even twitches when the muckety-muck whitewashes his past.

That's an example of why NPR gets the elitist rap so often and why the rich and arrogant hold sway -- still sitting at the mike, still calling the shot -- over the regular folks.

 

 

 

Corrupticut

I think we also have to be looking back at ourselves on this issue.  There couldn't have been a Rowland scandal without a Tomasso to give him kickbacks.   It's easy to get all high and mighty over the big corruption stories.... but if we we want to see them go away, we should stop taking advantage of the small "corruptions" as well.... the relative appointed to the town commission where he has no experience, the friend who offers to give your child an "in" at that magnet school.   Thank you - great show!