Sunday, February 15, 2009

The state gravy train

As content in the Hartford Courant gets lighter and lighter, it's with pleasure that I look forward to Sunday and the newest revelation of state malfeasance from Jon Lender, Kevin Rennie and now our old Middletown reporter Josh Kovner, who's showing his skills as an investigative reporter.

I started my career, post Hartford Times stringer, in the State of Connecticut Labor Department (Unemployment Compensation Division). During the mid-seventies recession is was a place of refuge for recent grads who couldn't find a "real" job. If I knew then, what I know now, I might have considered a career as a state employee. In those days, the lack of competitive compensation was ameliorated by a generous benefits package.

Unfortunately, most state employees labor their entire careers in modest-paying bureaucratic jobs, but apparently there are a chosen few, like some at the UCONN Medical School, who are allowed to double-dip, or who win contracts, as Kevin Rennie points out, that seem fit for royalty.

And as Josh Kovner demonstrates, our worst instincts are true. Our state legislators, by and large, have no idea how to work in the real world, so even when their stints as legislators, and legislative employees are through, they're given per diem contracts so they can hang around the Capitol and bask in the reflected glory.

I'm beginning to think that the idea of a part-time legislature, with amateur legislators who eventually return to real-world jobs, is a pipe dream which we will never wake from. After all, how can we expect the chickens to come home to roost when the foxes are guarding the henhouse.

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