June 20, 2011 | last updated May 31, 2012 7:08 pm

Another listening tour seems a PR gimmick

Governor Malloy and his new director of community and economic development, Catherine Smith, want to take a listening tour to better understand the sentiment of the state's business community.


Smith gets a pass here. She's just arriving on the scene. But Malloy should know he can't play that card again so soon. He is just a matter of weeks removed from a 17-stop listening tour. He's also been active in making plant tours. He's heard all he needs to hear. He just chose not to process what he heard.

Did he not hear that business thought the paid sick leave bill was a horrible signal of a climate that was unfriendly to business?

Did he not hear that small business is concerned about the double whammy of increasing business taxes and increasing personal taxes for their business profits that run through individual tax filings?

Did he not hear the frustration with the levels of state employee benefits and the stubborn refusal to roll back state spending?

Word from the work floors is that Malloy lost his glib, engaging manner the more he didn't like what he was hearing and turned downright rude at a couple of stops.

Now we're going to do it again?

One of the definitions of idiocy is doing the same thing time after time and expecting a different outcome.

Governor, the message has been loud and clear; you've heard it.

How about sending Smith out alone to conduct whatever fact-finding she thinks is appropriate? Then she can tell you in a language you may be better able to process. That strategy won't attract as many TV cameras but it just might produce some enlightenment that can find its way more effectively into administration discussions.

And that is what we're all after, right?

Two polls highlight divides

Polls can lead or mislead a discussion, but two recent ones provide an interesting glimpse into the mind of the body politic.

A Quinnipiac University poll finds just 38 percent of Connecticut residents approve of the job Governor Malloy is doing. It's not surprising that residents are grumpy after the largest tax increase in state history. Less than half — 43 percent — say they disapprove of the budget and 16 percent say they are "angry" about the budget. Yet just 16 percent say the tax increases are spread fairly; 59 percent say the middle class is getting hammered; 67 percent say the state should have passed more of the burden to the wealthy.

Given a chance to rank Malloy against two first-term governors of nearby states — Chris Christie in New Jersey and Andrew Cuomo in New York — Connecticut residents listed Malloy last. Malloy's spin doctors were quick to point out that voters generally regarded the predecessors to Christie and Cuomo as incompetent. Fair enough. But the Q Poll found just 20 percent say Malloy is a better governor than his predecessor, the lackluster M. Jodi Rell.

Then there's the Rasmussen poll that asked a national sample of likely voters to agree or disagree with this statement: "The gap between Americans who want to govern themselves and politicians who want to rule over them is now as big as the gap between the American colonies and England during the 18th Century."

A full 45 percent said yes; 40 percent said no.

Rasmussen goes on to slice the data by "mainstream" and "political class." The gap is striking: 95 percent of the "political class" disagrees with the statement; 55 percent of the "mainstream" agrees. Predictably, 84 percent of "Tea Party" sympathizers were in agreement.

The bottom line here is that there is deep discontent and a deep division in our land. We need to build some bridges before we can move ahead as a state or a nation.


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