In last week’s column, I noted the asymmetry of the governor’s condemning as “despicable” alleged financial scamming by a congressional campaign official while ignoring some truly despicable efforts by his subordinates and others to give cover to an illicit plan to divert $300,000 in state funds to Communist Party officials so they can (purportedly) renovate their New Haven headquarters. This week’s column must fairly give credit where due, and the credit goes to Gov. Danell Malloy.
At last week’s meeting of the state’s bond commission, over which the governor presides and at which the proposed grant was slated for rubber-stamp approval by the commission’s Democrat majority, Malloy announced the withdrawal of the funding request as improvidently proposed. To be sure, the governor’s turnabout was an act of political pragmatism. Media and public attention to the issue were gaining on him. The story was growing legs and going national. Breitbart and other blogs had picked it up, and it was only a matter of time before Malloy’s face would be plastered on the “Factor.”
Despite little time to mobilize, Connecticut’s conservative icon and pundit Tom Scott (a former long-serving Republican state senator from Milford), on two days’ notice, managed to pull together a group of veterans and some legislators to protest in front of the “Peoples’ Center” in New Haven. Some GOP legislators, previously willing to sleep through this, aroused to hold press conferences and issue statements condemning the state’s subsidy of a political party, especially one that is at bottom an anti-American hate group.
Its leaders fantasize about the day they might abolish state legislatures and Congress and replace them with “a dictatorship of the proletariat,” that is, a totalitarian national committee of tyrants and lunatics who would tell us how to live, where we can live, what occupation we might have, what measure of material goods we might enjoy and, indeed, what opinions might lawfully come out of our mouths.
Once veteran’s groups started to speak out, the political calculus changed dramatically. Malloy could only ignore veterans at significant cost. It is easy to understand why veterans were upset, especially those who served in Vietnam. Connecticut has plenty of men and women who lost sons in that war, who had relatives injured in it, or who descend from those killed in prior wars against dictator regimes.
Amazingly, Democrats were poised to borrow money in a time of budget crisis (and incur the interest expense) so that taxpayers would subsidize a political party whose ideology our government officially condemns as evil such that it sends men off to war to kill or get killed over it.
Even more credit is due to Malloy for being candid in explaining his change of position. He could have offered up a pretext as disingenuous as the one state officials concocted to explain their initial decision to delay a vote on the grant – alleged questions surrounding the group’s tax status. But Malloy stated his desire to respect the feelings of the state’s veterans. He also quite accurately noted that the proposal failed to gain a consensus of public support, something all bonding projects should have. He appeared at least to acknowledge this one had been poorly vetted and that the People’s Center should find other means to raise money for its activities.
Poorly vetted indeed. It demonstrates the need to reform the state’s bond procedures to avoid such debacles in the future.
For one thing, the state’s response to Freedom of Information Act requests for documents relating to this grant proposal revealed that little paperwork existed beyond a letter from a New Haven state senator requesting a princely sum. Where did the $300,000 figure come from? The only document that existed was suspicious at best. It was on plain paper, no letterhead. It had no signature, no attestation, no supporting documents or estimates, nothing. In fact, it did not even have an author. Someone just typed up a crude list of the building’s alleged repair needs, with seemingly highly inflated numbers representing an estimate of the cost for a new roof, a new floor, etc. Who did that? Who knows. On what basis were such amounts arrived at? Who knows. It appears whoever “anonymous” is just pulled the numbers out of her you-know-what, and they add up to a nice $300,000.
Is this the way the state spends and borrows money, and to fund private property to boot? That is truly frightening. Spending follies like this, on projects that are not even the government’s legitimate business, are a reason why governments are bankrupt.
This loose bonding procedure, left in place, will continue to allow for private interests and political cronies to effectively steal from the public treasury. Reforms should include the enactment of strict and clearly defined criteria for state bonding of privately owned property. It should require detailed applications, affidavits, tax returns, and supporting documentation. Reliable estimates for needed work should be submitted by licensed, legitimate contractors under oath. And the bond commission should be required to issue a detailed statement of why funding for any private property serves the “interest of the state.”
Finally, I cannot help but note the irony in Communist Party chief Joelle Fishman’s complaint that Malloy’s decision is an affront to free speech and “all democracy-minded people.” The woman is a piece of work. Fishman confuses her right to free speech with an entitlement to taxpayer funding of it. And since her party detests democracy, she deserved the red-baiting that she so bitterly complains about.