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No wonder state economy languishes

By PIERCE CONNAIR Pierce Connair

Publication: The Day

Published September 12. 2012 4:00AM

Back on May 14 a page-one Day headline read, "Don't Come to Connecticut" with jobs. After eight months of effort opening an office, filing paperwork, paying application fees, meeting with town officials, meeting the Connecticut Department of Transportation, the Rhode Island moving company was denied the right to do business in North Stonington. DOT said the applicant had "failed to show public need for its service."

What?

Two competitors, Barnes Moving & Storage (Mayflower) and Atherton & Sons (Wheaton) testified at the DOT hearing that business was poor and Connecticut didn't need the competition. What about free enterprise? (By the way, both companies have the right to do business in Rhode Island, where jobs are wanted. I also note that Pawcatuck's Yardney Technical Products is moving to Rhode Island.)

Bob Romano, the owner of the Coutu Brothers Movers company that was blocked from doing business in Connecticut, applied for a license to do business in Massachusetts and was approved in about 15 minutes. They want jobs there, too. (Pfizer has transferred Groton jobs to Cambridge.)

After the negative publicity, DOT advised Mr. Romano that Coutu Movers wouldn't have to go to court, just reapply and they'd expedite his hearing date. ("Oh, and send in another $177 application fee!")

That was June 2; now it's September and DOT "can't find the application." But rejoice taxpayers, back in June the state immediately cashed the $177 check.

I complained to the governor's office again and was told "that's the DOT's action" - and all this time I thought that the governor was elected to be in charge.

There's a leadership vacuum in Connecticut. Free enterprise appears to be an alien concept. It's no wonder that the state is near the bottom of the list of states in attracting jobs.

The governor should call Mr. Romano, invite him to do business in Connecticut, apologize for the ineptness of DOT, and for passing the buck. While he's at it, he should at least send back Mr. Romano's second $177 application fee.

Pierce Connair is the landlord who spent thousands of dollars locally fixing up an office so that Coutu Movers could do business in the state. He is also a former state senator from the 20th District and former president of Southeastern Connecticut Chamber of Commerce.

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