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Someone should explain what a deal is to Gov. Lamont

Even before this week, we all knew that Gov. Ned Lamont was not good at making deals.

After all, how else can one explain his inability to get even a watered-down version of tolls through a General Assembly dominated by his own party.

The lack of a deal on sports and internet gambling, while other states have raced ahead, is another puzzler, given his party's vice grip on all the levers of power.

It seems the only thing Gov. Lamont is really good at is acting unilaterally with endless COVID-19 powers. It's too bad for him that those king-like powers will expire soon, but not before he gives another rich, no-bid contract to publicists who will try to make him and his policies look better.

This week, Lamont proved not only inept at consummating a deal but laid bare just how little he understands the basic premise of deal-making. Can't anyone help him with this?

It is possible that Lamont's bullying of and disrespect for the leader of the American Indian tribe that has contributed hundreds of millions of dollars to the state budget will bring the Mashantucket Pequots back to the bargaining on sports and internet gambling.

But even if the governor succeeds in that, any deal that ensues will be, at best, tainted by the governor's bad faith in deal-making.

What someone might explain to the governor is that the basic premise of a deal is that you bring different parties with different interests together and get everyone to agree on something that, in the end, is in the best interests of all.

It requires compromise from everyone and leadership to coax out those compromises.

In the instance of sports and internet gambling, the governor needed to bring together the various gambling purveyors in the state: the lottery, the two gaming tribes and the off-track betting operator.

A successful deal would need them all to buy in with compromises.

Instead, the governor announced a "deal" without a buy-in from either the off-track betting operator, which promptly suggested a lawsuit, or the critically important Mashantucket Pequot Tribe, which has a gaming exclusivity compact with the state that would have to be amended.

"This agreement represents months of hard work and dedication to getting a deal that's best for the residents of Connecticut and moves our state forward when it comes to the future of gaming," the governor said in his announcement Tuesday.

Someone should tell the governor that he has no deal at all, since he doesn't have agreement from all the parties.

We do know from some reporting in The Day that Lamont and the Mashantucket Pequots were still a few percentage points apart in the proposed tax rate before the governor decided to break off the negotiations and prematurely proclaim a deal that clearly doesn't exist.

The governor doesn't seem to understand that breaking off negotiations and calling out one of the parties as uncooperative is no way to make a good deal.

It is curious that the governor chose to show such disrespect to one of Connecticut's successful American Indian tribes the same week that the U.S. Senate took up the nomination of what could be the first Native American Cabinet member.

Even if he couldn't accept the Pequots' position, the governor at least owed them the respect of being important participants at the bargaining table.

The governor from Greenwich who balks at raising taxes on the rich of Fairfield County apparently has no problem squeezing the job-creating American Indians of eastern Connecticut on taxes.

I also can't help but relate this to the deal Lamont made with the rich electric utilities, one foreign, to spend millions of state dollars to rebuild State Pier in New London for their profitable commercial purposes.

The governor cut the people of New London out of that deal, too, and only relented to give them some scraps more than a year later, after the city mobilized its lawyers to try to stop the project.

I am not sure it wouldn't be a losing proposition to try to teach this arrogant governor something about deal-making.

This is the opinion of David Collins.


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