Winning this 'gold' more cowardly than skillful
A group of Connecticut lawmakers have been pushing personal mental and physical limits, seeking to do something no other elected state official has ever done. They must have visions of standing in the center on the tri-level podium, hands raised in victory, at the 2020 Summer Olympic Games in Tokyo.
Yes, Democrats in hidden speedos have been routinely rising before the crack of dawn, gathering at the Capital Building, and undergoing round-the-clock conditioning, all with the hopes of bringing home the gold. In halls of power, they sustain on a strict diet consisting of stale vending machine sandwiches, Cheetos and diet cola.
House Speaker Joe Aresimowicz of Berlin and Senate President Pro Tempore Martin M. Looney of New Haven are instructing their lawmakers, using a time-tested tunnel vision technique of focusing their efforts on wading, maintaining buoyancy, staying in their assigned lanes, and mastering the ever-popular backstroke.
Imagine the satisfaction, after all that sacrifice, to hear "Yankee Doodle" played loudly through the stadium speakers as our state flag flows majestically behind the team captain, Gov. Lamont.
The stadium announcer will intone in his warm baritone, "Congratulations to the Connecticut gold medal champions in the inaugural Olympic sport of synchronized voting.”
Ok, it won’t be an Olympic event, but the idea of introducing synchronized voting is, unfortunately, very real.
Normally one chamber would debate and eventually vote on a bill and then the other chamber would do the same. If the Democrats get their wish, state senators and representatives will instead arrive at a conclusion to implement truck-only tolling at the same time, fundamentally absolving each other of political guilt should something go astray. State Rep. Mike France, R-Ledyard, on my show this week, said, "That tells me, frankly, that one chamber doesn't believe the other has the votes. They're not all on board. This is not the right way to do business."
Essentially, Democratic leadership is attempting to protect itself from itself. For a little more than a year, the governor befuddled state residents with his perplexing and continuously evolving maze of tolling proposals. Many Democrats in potential swing districts are concerned that a "yes" vote on any toll package will be a lethal dagger to their 2020 re-election campaigns. Strong pushback from anti-tolling groups have continuously put pressure on the undecided Democratic legislators, leaving many in the political crosshairs. The whole topic of tolls has been such a polarizing subject that Democratic legislators can't trust each other to be truthful with the impending vote. To date, not one Republican has come out in favor of tolls. It's the Democrats who need to be wooed, by sweetening the pot.
Forgetting the logistics of attempting such a back-handed and shady maneuver, the idea of a simultaneous vote spits in the face of normal bicameral legislative protocol. A parallel vote is an unhealthy layer of protection Democrats would be affording themselves in case one of their own members folds, breaks the promise to party leadership, and votes against the latest toll proposal. It's a deceptive and manipulative method of self-preservation.
When the dust settles, and if toll gantries are ever erected, pay close attention to which districts are handed lopsided amounts of pork-barrel project money. In his bonding proposal, with an eye to secure toll votes, Lamont jumped off his debt diet and increased his borrowing plans.
State Senate Republican Leader Len Fasano accused the governor of buying votes. Last week a slightly irritated Fasano, on my morning radio broadcast, said, "It is sad to think this this governor had to break his promise once again to try to get something done that’s against the populous. If they think tolls are a good idea, they should run with it. They shouldn’t have to entice votes. When something is paid for, it’s probably not a good idea."
In that context, look carefully to see which Democratic lawmakers will be right in the middle of any photo-ops for cutting big blue ribbons at the opening of a state-funded bus terminals, train stations or swimming pools. Those will be the Democrats who sold out.
A synchronized vote is an embarrassment. When you are elected to serve, that service should be to your constituents and not to your own self-serving agenda. The idea of an artificial blanket of camouflage, destined solely for the purpose to preserve the anonymity of certain lawmakers, is shameful. Call the vote with no games and let the toll tokens fall where they may.
Lee Elci is the morning host for 94.9 News Now radio, a station that provides "Stimulating Talk" with a conservative bent.
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