Arrogance and bullying is not an appropriate leadership style.
Today’s blog post was supposed to be about some additional policy issues facing the Legislature but after reading the latest CTnewsjunkie story, we must unfortunately return to the issue of how the Malloy administration is dealing with state employees, with criticism of their policies and with the responsibilities associated with governing.
According to the news story, Correction Workers To Fight Concessions, when AFCME Local 391, the union that represents Connecticut’s 5,000 correction workers recently held an executive board meeting, there was a consensus that the members would not support the Malloy Administration’s demand for $1 billion in employee concessions. The minutes read “The members have spoken and we have heard them loud and clear: No!”
In response, Roy Occhiogrosso, Governor Malloy’s closest advisor, once again, came out firing. He blasted the correctional guards saying “it’s disappointing to see that kind of rhetoric at the same time we’re being told the unions are negotiating in good faith.”
In response, the spokesperson for Connecticut’s state employees pointed out that the Local’s minutes simply reflect the employee’s upset and that “Those concerns and frustrations are legitimate, and a product of years of disregard and disrespect from previous administrations.”
The spokesperson reiterated that the state employee unions remain committed to “the good faith discussions SEBAC is having with the Malloy administration” but he reminded Occhiogrosso that “we are a democratic union…Our members have a right to speak their mind.”
While talking of shared sacrifice and the need to have a “grown up” discussion about the difficult choices facing the state, this Administration seems more interested in belittling those who voice reasonable concerns or have understandable disagreements with their policy proposals.
Three months into their tenure and the Malloy Administration continues to appear unable or unwilling to get out of “campaign mode”. Dismissive and flip rhetoric may work in the heat of campaigns but it is very much out-of-place in the here and now.
For example, the Governor is fond of saying things like: “The smartest thing the legislature can do is pass this [budget] as quickly as possible and then blame me." Or: “If I were them, I’d pass it as it is … I think what this does is take the pressure off of them to make the tough decisions.”
Cute phrases to be sure but hardly an appropriate thing to say to the 187 state legislators who have the moral, ethical and Constitutional responsibility to represent their constituents in Hartford.
Meanwhile, the Malloy Administration remains unwilling to share some of the most critical details about their budget plans.
Last week we learned that they do have a “detailed plan” to achieve the unachievable - $2 billion in concessions from the state employees - but that they won’t reveal that plan.
The largest single element of the budget and they don’ t feel the need to share any of the details with the public, the legislators or the media so that people have a chance to understand what is being proposed and how it might impact our state?
Sharing information and allowing debate is not a by-product of a functioning democracy, it is the fundamental requirement that produces a successful democracy.
No one has a monopoly on good ideas. Pushing back on some of the Governor’s proposals does not mean that we don’t care about Connecticut's future. In fact, it is exactly the opposite.
These are difficult times. Hard choices must be made.
To succeed, our elected officials must be committed to promoting respect, understanding, dialogue and debate and this Administration would do well to start acting like the leaders they can and must be if we are to have a chance to overcome the challenges that face our state.