Christine Stuart photo
Gov. M. Jodi Rell’s inauguration day was a day marked more by pageantry than policy. Rell decided instead of detailing her budget policies for the session she would use her almost eight-minute speech to address the importance of public service. “Public service is an incredible blessing – and a burden of immense weight: a blessing of great rewards for helping those in need; and a burden of sometimes unrealistic expectations,” she said. Speaker of the House James Amann, D-Milford, said after the inauguration speech that he didn’t expect Rell to talk about policy until February when she makes her budget address to a joint session of the House and Senate.
“I actually liked it,” Amann said, “she’s trying to tell people the sun is rising in Connecticut…being optimistic is something people want to hear.” Some Capitol staffers were more cynical. “There was more policy in the reverend’s opening remarks than in Rell’s inauguration speech,” Capitol staffers joked. Click here to read the speech. ReflectionWhat made today different than when Rell, then lieutenant governor, was sworn after then Gov. John G. Rowland resigned during a federal corruption probe? “The weather,” Rell said. It was a hot day in July of 2004 when Rell took over the governor’s office. Did she even think about Rowland today? “Not today,” she said as she exited the legislative office building. She said in the last couple of days she has been in “awe of the responsibility,” the office holds. But she said she doesn’t often think about it that way because she’s too focused on the work to stand back and ponder her station in life. “In many ways, as we begin a new year, a new administration, and a new General Assembly term, we are at a crossroads in Connecticut – a crossroads of needed economic, social, cultural and educational change. A crossroads crying out for our leadership and our inspiration,” Rell said in her inauguration address. Rell’s remarks about the state being at a crossroads echoed the poem “In a Moment of Clarity,” written by former Connecticut Poet Laureate Marilyn Nelson. The poem focused on Rell’s decision to run for public office while crossing the Tappan Zee Bridge in New York with her husband, Lou. Christine Stuart photo
Rell Post-SpeechWhen reporter’s tried to glimpse a preview of her budget proposals or policies for the session, Rell said she’s still working on the numbers and will begin to finalize it next week. “I’ll let you know,” she said. During the election, Rell alluded to bringing back her failed car tax proposal, but Amann said Wednesday that it won’t fly if it comes back the same as it did last year. Rell’s proposal last year was estimated to cost roughly $500 million. “We’re in a deficit next year,” Amann said. He said putting a quarter of a billion in proposals on the table isn’t fiscally responsible. “How much is it gonna cost?” was what Amann wanted to know. He said the Democrats are looking at relieving some of the property tax burden by picking up a portion of the special education costs, paid now by the towns. Surprise GuestsEarlier this week, Rell promised WTIC radio hosts Ray and Diane that there would be some notable out-of-town guests in attendance Wednesday. She refused to give hints, but a few guests that may have traveled to be there Wednesday included former Gov. Lowell Weicker and his wife, U.S. Senator Joseph Lieberman, Congressman Christopher Dodd, and her daughter’s family from Colorado. The only guest that drew whispers was former Supreme Court Chief Justice William ‘Tocco’ Sullivan who led the procession of state Supreme Court judges into the gathering. Acting Supreme Court Chief Justice David Borden swore in Attorney General Richard Blumenthal. Sullivan was suspended by the Judicial Review Council for 15 days for violating portions of the judicial code of conduct. Sullivan withheld the release of a court decision to help Justice Peter T. Zarella succeed him. Zarella has since withdrawn his nomination and Rell has refused to name another chief justice until the Sullivan mess was straightened out.