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    Sunday, May 19, 2024

    I have to vote for Democrats, but I don't have to like them

    An aerial view of the space between the wharfs being filled in Monday, April 4, 2022, at State Pier in New London. (Sean D. Elliot/The Day)
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    This year has brought the final breaking point for me with Republicans, not that I voted for many of them before now.

    But, really, anyone who still puts an R after their name, affiliated with the party that is about to succeed in turning back the clock on abortion rights, while putting at serious risk a whole range of other freedoms many Americans have come to take for granted as settled law — mixed race marriage, gay marriage, contraception — has no chance of getting my vote.

    The Republican-created Supreme Court of religious zealots also is pushing all these important matters down to the level of state legislatures and governors, making local races more important than ever before.

    Republicans have created the party of voter suppression, the party of lies about voter fraud, the party that shields insurrectionists, the party that harbors white supremacists and the party that won't stand up to the gun lobby, talking about "hardening" our schools rather than stopping the madness of a shoot-em-up gun culture like none other in the world.

    The problem, especially in Connecticut, is that leaves you with a motley crew of Democrats, who have long dominated the government and come to do whatever they please, granting all kinds of lucrative goodies, jobs, lavish contracts, even bloated lifetime pensions, to cronies.

    I have been impressed in the past more by Connecticut's Democrats in Washington, as if they've risen to the challenge.

    But then Connecticut's Washington delegation turned up in New London last week to paint lipstick on Gov. Ned Lamont's big fat $255 million pig, the remake of State Pier — a subsidy to rich utilities, one foreign, who don't need it and would have done what they are doing to create profitable offshore wind farms without it.

    In the long history of corporate subsidies by governments, Lamont's gift to the utilities must be close to a record breaker in terms of how few jobs it will create. Best estimates indicate the quarter of a billion dollar remake of State Pier will generate fewer wind assembly jobs than a small Walmart. The annual anticipated rent of about $2 million is, well, laughable, given the cost.

    You can see this is a governor who inherited the fortune that is financing a second gubernatorial campaign. He didn't make it himself.

    Lamont, who presided over a Bond Commission meeting Thursday in which funding to cover another $20 million cost overrun was approved for a project that started at $93 million, commented that he knows his way around a change order. Yes, and he pays it with the taxpayers' credit card.

    This is the same governor who in 2020 said he was willing to accept all of the cost overruns for the then $157-million project — signing a deal in which the utilities were responsible for no price increases — because he had confidence in his deputy budget chief, Konstantinos Diamantis, who was overseeing the massive construction project.

    Then Diamantis, the subject of a federal grand jury probe into spending at State Pier and Connecticut schools, resigned in disgrace. Oops. That sure was a lot of misplaced confidence by the governor.

    What was so distressing about the pig painting last week by Connecticut's Washington politicians was the way they so blithely exaggerated and misled.

    Really, how often do you see such a large gaggle of politicians gather around and enthusiastically talk about a project that is literally, as you read this, under investigation by the FBI, a new layer of criminal scrutiny that has followed countless scandals associated with the project.

    The Washington Democrats dragged with them, because they could, the U.S. energy secretary, who helped them gush, saying President Joe Biden is personally watching and impressed with what's happening in New London.

    Boy, do they think we are gullible.

    "Come to State Pier ... this is the future of energy in America," Sen. Richard Blumenthal swooned.

    Rep. Joe Courtney called the project he was looking at "eye-watering." Yikes. Get a grip.

    You would almost think these folks, so anxious to put lipstick on Lamont's pig, don't know that offshore wind staging facilities are being built all up and down the East Coast, that maybe they've been fooled too. But no.

    They are trying to fool us.

    And it's likely that the wind staging facilities being built in other states, without the corruption or the same kind of cost-spiraling, massive public subsidies, have not put a union of longshoremen out of work or diverted traditional shipping to competing ports, some out of state.

    New London Mayor Michael Passero, a Democrat, turned up predictably for the lipstick event. Passero sold his credibility about State Pier a long time ago, when he actually signed a deal with the rich utilities promising to always sing the praises of the pier project whenever asked.

    What excuse do the others have?

    Republicans on the Bond Commission asked some hard questions about the pier and the spiraling costs of Lamont's folly at Thursday's meeting.

    Alas, I appreciate that.

    But I couldn't pull a lever after their names if they appeared on a ballot in my voting booth, as long as there are still Rs after them.

    There is too much else at stake for this country, which urgently needs to fend off a pressing Republican offensive against our freedoms and our democracy.

    This is the opinion of David Collins.


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