This is one of my favorite weeks. St. Patrick’s Day Wednesday and St. Joseph’s Day Friday, and then the first day of spring.
While St. Patrick dealt with snakes (wouldn’t he do well in politics?), St. Joseph is the patron saint of Sicily where my father was born. Sicilians prayed to the spouse of Mary to end a drought in exchange for a mighty feast. Lo and behold the rains came producing fava beans, baby. So now each St. Joseph’s Day weekend I eat fava beans and stuff myself with zeppole, cream/custard filled pastry, and throw a feast in honor of St. Joseph (my middle name). And maybe that’s why I’m a gas bag. Too much beans.
I wonder if city bean counters have their own patron saint as they prepare a critical budget for Mayor Bill Finch to submit to the City Council in three weeks. Maybe St. Anthony? They could use a few miracles to keep a tax increase down, no?
All this talk from Jodi Rell’s bean counters urging cities and towns to spend reserves must have local budget makers nervous. Rell wants to cut aid to cities and towns. Spending reserves will make Wall Street anxious to pounce on local bond ratings. Weakened bond ratings cost municipalities more money for borrowing, capital improvements, etc. Bond rating agencies don’t like municipalities raiding fund balances, aka savings. I’m no accountant, but Rell’s chief budget director telling municipalities to drain reserves smacks incredulous. Sure, spend all your savings, have a blast with your credit card, run up more debt. Naughty boy.
Connecticut has become too expensive. The state budget is a mess. The next governor will face a nightmare because Rell has pretty much taken her hands off the steering wheel. What a crash. Major employers threatening to bail out doesn’t make things any easier. From The Hartford Courant:
Connecticut’s biggest private employer is determined to do more of its work outside its home state and other “high-cost” locations, top executives said Friday at an investors’ conference in New York.
“Anyplace outside of Connecticut is low-cost,” United Technologies Corp.’s chief financial officer, Gregory Hayes, told Wall Street investment analysts — paraphrasing previous remarks by another UTC executive, Jeff Pino, president of Sikorsky Aircraft.
“Even if work has to stay in the U.S., there are opportunities to reduce cost by moving out of those high-cost locations,” Hayes said.
Hartford-based UTC employs 26,000 of its 205,000 workers in Connecticut, largely at Pratt & Whitney, Sikorsky and Hamilton Sundstrand.
UTC did not present a plan for reducing its home state employment base, and executives did not indicate that a plan is in the works, or that a specific division or group could be targeted.
In an interview with reporters later Friday, UTC chief executive Louis Chênevert insisted that the company would keep not only its headquarters in Connecticut for the foreseeable future — at least the 10 years he expects to remain in charge — but significant manufacturing operations also.
“The fact is, we’re the largest employer in Connecticut and we will remain the largest employer in Connecticut for the next decade,” he said in response to a question from The Courant. “And it’s that simple.”
The state’s second-largest private employer, Stop & Shop, has about 15,000 employees in Connecticut.
The executives’ remarks come as Pratt fights in a federal appeals court for permission to shut down one of its last three major Connecticut factories, in Cheshire. That factory and a smaller repair unit in East Hartford employ about 1,000 people. The jobs would be moved to Columbus, Ga., Singapore and Japan.
Ministers Weigh In
The Interdenominational Ministerial Alliance, a group of African-American clergy that hasn’t been bashful about supporting candidates for public office, is not happy with the way the mayor handled the dismissal of Marion Evans as city health director. This is an interesting political showdown to watch. African-American ministers have discussed a boycott of candidate appearances in their churches until the matter is satisfied. Just what will satisfy the ministers is unclear. Finch is searching for a new health director.
Tasty Taberna, Meet Musto At Black Rock Library
Ms. Mo and I dined at La Taberna on Madison Avenue for the first time Saturday night before the Fab Faux concert at The Klein. Check it out, a nice blend of Spanish and Italian cuisine. A mighty fine paella classic.
State Senator Anthony Musto will appear at the Black Rock Library on Tuesday night from 5:30 to 7 to discuss the current legislative session and answer your questions. Check out Anthony’s website www.senatedems.ct.gov/Musto.html