11:10 AM EDT, March 29, 2011
A Glowing Endorsement for Malloy's Budget.
“Virtually every constituency, interest group and bargaining coalition in the state has some gripe with Gov. Malloy's proposed budget — which is exactly why we, and in particular our elected representatives, should support it.”
David Crandall, the President and CEO of New Britain’s Hospital for Special Care, Hartford Courant Commentary March 25, 2011.
At a time when there are very few, if any, who are praising the Governor’s budget, a full-fledged endorsement like Crandall’s is hard to come by.
What makes the commentary piece even more interesting is that as President and CEO of a major Connecticut hospital, he is well aware of how damaging the Governor's proposed budget is to the state’s hospitals.
Adding to the intrigue is fact that the Crandall’s piece reads more like a set of Malloy’s PR talking points than anything else;
“The governor's proposed budget…tackles head-on the tough issues which vexed his predecessors.”
“…[Malloy] offers solutions in the one area that will sustain our state for decades to come”
“The governor's budget also reflects his pedigree as the consummate Hartford outsider.”
And finally, rather than address the impact the Governor’s budget would have on the quality and availability of hospital care, which would make sense since that is Crandall’s expertise, he spends a significant amount of his editorial praising Malloy’s push to reorganize public higher education.
One has to wonder just what is going on behind the scenes.
Crandall and the Hospital of Special Care is one of the more sophisticated operators when it comes to government relations. According to the Office of State Ethics they spent over $873,000 on lobbying state government in the last two years alone including more than $135,000 paid to Joe Harper, who served New Britain’s State Senator for many years and ran the Legislature’s Appropriations Committee with an iron fist. (By comparison, Gaylord Hospital spent $46,000 on lobbying). In addition to retaining one of the best government relations firms in the state, Crandall and the Hospital for Special Care hired an additional lobby firm earlier this month, a new company formed by Adam Salina, the Mayor of Berlin and a rising star in Connecticut politics. Salina was also a plum spot on Malloy’s transition committee, reviewing incoming resumes).
An early endorsement by Salina and key Democrats in New Britain in February 2010 is credited with helping to derail Ned Lamont’s march for the Democratic nomination. The New Britain political establishment had not supported Malloy in his 2006 gubernatorial campaign so when they switched to him this time, it had a big impact.
And to the victor goes the spoils. New Britain’s state senator at the time is now the Commissioner of the State Department of Administrative Services and one of their State Representatives is the new Connecticut State Auditor. New Britain’s other legislators have risen to new heights as well.
Considering the political environment, it’s not surprising that the Malloy Administration has been searching for people to stand up and endorse his budget plan. What is interesting is how a hospital President and CEO has suddenly become one of the Governor’s most outspoken cheer-leaders.
The connection to the higher education re-organization is also intriguing. The Joe Harper who Crandall paid so well for his government relations services has long been a proponent of re-organizing higher education. On the other hand, Crandall is one of the newest members of the Middlesex Chamber of Commerce’s Board of Directors, which is home-base for Larry McHugh. McHugh is not only the Chamber’s President but he previously served as the Chairman of the CSU Board of Trustees and now serves as Chairman of the UConn Board of Trustees, a position he certainly wants to hold on to. McHugh is certainly extraordinarily appreciative that Malloy exempted UConn from his massive public higher education reorganization plans.
All in all, it is interesting timing.
And as the proverb goes, “may you live in interesting times.”
Crandall’s piece in the Courant can be found here: Crandall on Malloy's Budget
Background Note: As of 2009 Crandall was making $793,000 a year from Hospital for Special Care and its related companies.