(Updated 1:47 p.m.) The head of the Connecticut District Laborers’ Council wants former Gov. John G. Rowland to stop “lying” in order to get better ratings on his afternoon radio show on WTIC-AM.
Since Charles LeConche can’t get through to the former Republican governor by phone, he’s planning a 2 p.m. protest outside the station’s Farmington studios.
“If I don’t get on the radio we’re going to do it a different way,” LeConche said Thursday morning.
But LeConche, whose organization endorsed Rowland during his first term, said all he’s looking for is a little fair play on the issues. He said he understands Rowland may be looking for ratings, but he should be confident enough to let the other side of an issue be heard.
“If he has an issue with the busway he should be willing to discuss it,” LeConche said.
LeConche is referring to the Hartford-to-New Britain busway project, which Rowland has panned almost on a daily basis on his show. The 9.4-mile busway will cost nearly $570 million and most of the money is coming from the federal government with about $112 million being funded by the state.
But Rowland isn’t backing down.
“I will continue to speak out against the busway boondoggle. This is the biggest waste of taxpayer money in Connecticut history,” Rowland said in an emailed statement.
“The costs of this boondoggle will burden our children and grandchildren long after we are gone. The union bosses are sadly mistaken, if they think they can bully or intimidate me. I will continue to encourage taxpayers to sign our petition and write to their legislators and blockthebus.com.”
LeConche and the construction trades have argued that the busway will bring jobs, like the ones Rowland himself helped spur with the construction of both the Connecticut Convention Center and Rentschler Field.
LeConche said his 5,000 members endorsed Rowland during his first term because he came to them for support of Adriean’s Landing and they worked with him to ensure there was a Project Labor Agreement in place — the same type of PLA that Rowland continues to pan on his afternoon radio show.
PLAs are pre-hiring agreements that cover the terms and conditions of a construction project.
“This guy is nuts,” LeConche said. “We oppose the way his radio show is produced. It should be a fair airing of the issues.”
Roy Occhiogrosso, Malloy’s senior communications adviser, refuses to listen to Rowland’s radio show.
“I would’ve responded sooner but I was laughing too hard to type,” Occhiogrosso said Thursday. “John Rowland cut some of the dumbest deals this state has ever seen – ones that will burden our children and grandchildren long after he‘s gone.”
“He squandered billions of dollars in revenue, did nothing to rein in state spending or fix the economy, robbed the state blind, and then resigned in disgrace,” he added. “I’m still unclear as to why WTIC ever saw fit to give this fraud the kind of platform he has. He’s a joke.”
LeConche said he doesn’t know how big the protest will be today, but he expects a few people with signs to show up.
Messages left with radio station management were not immediately returned.
However, Jim Vicevich, who hosts the Sound Off Connecticut morning show on the same station, defended Rowland this morning and invited the union to come protest his show.
“I’ll meet you right at the picket line,” Vicevich said. “Then you get in my face you thugs.”
“You wanna come out to protest Johnny, you come out and protest Jimmy,” Vicevich said.
He said he’s sick of union workers using his tax dollars on projects such as the busway, which Vicevich says will never be able to sustain itself and will always need to be subsidized.
Public transportation systems in the U.S. are usually subsidized as an effort to provide more efficient ways to move larger numbers of passengers and to curb the pollution generated by single-passenger vehicles clogging roadways. Gov. Dannel P. Malloy has said that the busway — which is now called CTfastrack — is part of a long-term plan to ensure that there is another corridor available for use by the time the Aetna Viaduct, the long elevated section of I-84 in Hartford, is due to be replaced.
LeConche has also been critical of Malloy. Last year he paraded up and down the sidewalk outside the state Capitol protesting a construction project that went to a Massachusetts company rather than to Connecticut workers.