Sean B. Goldrick Gov. Lamont created most diverse cabinet
In his recent column, Hearst senior editor James Walker accused Gov. Lamont of using Blacks “as a propaganda tool to get elected.” (“Marijuana? Dear Gov. Lamont: What say you?”) According to Mr. Walker, Lamont visited Bridgeport and other low-income areas when he ran for governor in 2010, then “disappeared for nearly eight years.” Or, at least, Mr. Walker “couldn’t find media” of Lamont in Black neighborhoods during that time.
Regarding the accusation that Gov. Lamont used African-Americans as a “propaganda tool,” perhaps Mr. Walker would like to talk that over with Paul Mounds, the African-American man whom Lamont named to the post of Chief Operating Officer; or perhaps with Melissa McCaw, the African-American woman whom he selected to serve as Secretary of the Office of Policy and Management, the state’s chief budget official. Perhaps he would like to debate the question with Vannessa Dorantes, the African-American woman whom Gov. Lamont named Commissioner of the Department of Children and Families; or with Renee Coleman-Mitchell, the African-American woman whom Gov. Lamont asked to serve as Commissioner of Public Health; or with Andrew M. Mais, the African-American man who presides as Commissioner of Insurance in Lamont’s cabinet; or with Sibongile Magubane, the African-American Commissioner of Department of Motor Vehicles. Or perhaps Mr. Walker would like to hold a sit-down on the subject with Scott R. Jackson, the African-American man whom Lamont requested to serve as the state’s top tax executive, Commissioner of the Department of Revenue Services.
Then Mr. Walker might like to talk about the subject of using people of color as “propaganda tools” with the Hispanic members of Gov. Lamont’s cabinet, with Maribel La Luz, his Director of Communications; with Chris Soto, his Director of Legislative Affairs; or Seila Mosquera, Commissioner of Housing; or Jorge Perez, his Secretary of the Department of Banking.
For that matter, he might like to discuss the issue with the half of his cabinet who are women. Mr. Walker will remember that his fellow Hearst editor, Dan Haar, sharply criticized the governor’s ad hoc working group’s recommendation that half of his cabinet be comprised of women, and that women of color be appointed to reflect their representation in the population of Connecticut, calling the recommendation “demeaning.”
But even before sitting down for a talk with those men and women of color whom Gov. Lamont asked to serve in top positions in his administration, one has to acknowledge that this governor has created a cabinet that is the most diverse and representative in the history of the state — by far. The governor did not forget the minority community in creating his government, a government that he wants to work for all the state’s people.
But Mr. Walker went further, demanding in his column to know where Gov. Lamont stands on the issue of marijuana legalization. Mr. Walker, who calls it a “tough decision,” claims that Gov. Lamont’s “mouth has been zipped shut, his hand stilled, by political pressure” on the issue.
Gov. Lamont’s mouth has not been “zipped” on the issue of marijuana legalization. In fact, Gov. Lamont has been clear from the start of his campaign, and long before, that he stands for legalization of the recreational use of marijuana, that he supports expungement of prior convictions for marijuana-related crimes, and support for communities of color devastated by the war on drugs, which civil rights activist Michelle Alexander called “The New Jim Crow,” in legalization legislation.
He doesn’t have to take my word for it. Mr. Walker’s own Hearst newspapers have carried numerous articles reporting on Gov. Lamont’s steadfast support for legalization for months. Indeed, the media, including Hearst publications, are still reporting on Gov. Lamont’s support for legalization bills working their way through the General Assembly.
But, as a senior editor for Hearst Connecticut Media, all Mr. Walker really needs to do to get the answers he’s looking for is pick up the phone and dial the governor. One has to believe that Gov. Lamont would be eager to talk with Mr. Walker, and answer all of his questions directly.
Gov. Lamont’s actions have already spoken clearly and forcefully. In his support for legalization bills, in his nominations of people of color to the top jobs in his administration, Gov. Lamont is already answering Mr Walker’s questions.
Sean B. Goldrick is a resident of the Riverside section of Greenwich. He was elected as a delegate to the Connecticut Democratic Party convention from Greenwich as a Lamont delegate for his 2006 senatorial run, and the 2010 convention as a Lamont delegate during his run for governor.