Viewing the political snowglobe from the outside
I’m never gonna be an insider or power broker.
Not for me will be the FBI’s knock on the front door, the headline excitement following the mansplaining relevancy of passing along hush money, like the president’s felonious former attorney.
For that matter, I may never be the recipient of hush money. My life story doesn’t seem likely to be suppressed by the leader of the Free World’s buddies at the The National Enquirer. But I’m available.
I won’t ever become a fixer, as cool as that sounds, like the dithering Rudy Giuliani or the eloquent Mr. Wolf, the Harvey Keitel character in the hilariously dark “Pulp Fiction.” who was able to conveniently lose the evidence of an inadvertent homicide in one of the most-crushing scenes in movie history.
What I have is standards. Those include openness, transparency, sunlight and the availability of the printed word to inform.
I like the two-party system, because reporters can play both ends against the middle. More political parties, however, would be even better. It’s time the ultra-cons and the super-lefties had their own teams. But then there would be even-less difference between mainstream Connecticut Republicans and Democrats.
As I write this on Friday afternoon in the State Capitol, I’m thinking back a short six years. By this time, sunset on a different Friday, we knew that more than two dozen were dead at a Newtown elementary school.
We’re still finding out about the despicable murderer, courtesy of a Connecticut State Police that had to be dragged into court to cough up documents owned by us, the public, detailing the grim, now-academic details about his pathetic, selfish life of mental illness and violent fantasy.
It’s pathetic that we’ve had to wait for so long to obtain the final personal details of the shooter, and that the battle over them wasn’t won until the brink of this sad anniversary week. It’s literally taken a lifetime. The Sandy Hook first-graders of 2012 are — or would have been if the 20 murdered children had lived — 12 this year.
Police, as a rule, are not in the information business, despite the laws passed in the General Assembly. A variation on that theme is that most government types would rather their dirty little secrets were kept under the table, and yeah, it’s up to reporters to shine the light into the spots where officials want to praise the darkness. We do this for the price of the newspaper, or for not, for those of you who read it for free on websites.
Take Bridgeport, where in the upcoming mayoral election year, quirky things such as information that might not put Mayor Joe Ganim in the best light, are being ordered suppressed.
The latest dictum from Ganim gags city employees from talking with reporters without first clearing things with his office. This order coincides hilariously with the news that nearly $35,500 in cash obtained over two years from the sale of scrap metal, is unaccounted in the city’s public facilities unit.
Not being a two-party town, it might take some doing to figure out this potential fraud, which isn’t quite as funny as the time back during the Gathering of the Vibes, back in 2009, when I sat on a folding chair in the mobile police headquarters at Seaside Park, watching cops load tall canisters of confiscated laughing gas onto pickup trucks for transport “back to headquarters” as evidence. Somehow, someway, the 100 tanks of Nitrous oxide disappeared and ended up in a mysterious but-lucrative resale.
Ganim’s gag is a tactic that harkens back to his predecessor, Bill Finch, who basically ended a decades-honored system where reporters could walk into police headquarters, read through piles of reports and decide for ourselves what was news.
Now, we have to depend on “public information” employees to pass along relevant details on the big crimes, and reporters keep eagle ears out for the squawking of the police radio of the day-to-day stuff.
You can’t blame Ganim for wanting to keep a lid on bad news like crime, and malfeasance in City Hall. That million-dollar vanity run for governor showed that he won only one town in the state’s 169, and the city vote was a relatively soft support for him with 5,009 votes to Ned Lamont’s 3,703 votes.
Praise the fixers and pass me the laughing gas.
Ken Dixon, political editor and columnist, can be reached at 203-842-2547 or at firstname.lastname@example.org. Visit him at twitter.com/KenDixonCT and on Facebook at kendixonct.hearst.