In the Trenches: Inside Malloy’s ‘Town Hall’ Meeting

Posted on March 14, 2011. Filed under: Uncategorized |

Last week, CSCPA president and “Fixing Our Future” rock star Marcia Marien was Norwich Mayor Peter Albert Nystrom’s invited guest at Gov. Malloy’s Norwich town hall meeting.

Wonder what’s been going on in these elusive meetings? (I know I do, beyond the snippets I see on the news!)

Here’s Marcia’s take, right from the front lines.

“[On March 9], I went to see the governor speak. I was invited by the Mayor of Norwich. An hour and a half before the event, there was already a line around the building. I was able to sit in the main room of approximately 200 people. That was good because the closed-circuit TV did not work for the secondary room. (The police had to calm those people down.) Plus, hundreds of people were turned away.

There were not many Norwich people. My guess is about half were union people from around the state that were coming to all the events.

What did the invite by the mayor get me? A chance to speak third. Most people did not get to speak at all.

The governor stood face-to-face with the person asking the questions about six feet away. Nancy Wyman welcomed each speaker and stood next to them. Here is what I said:

‘My name is Marcia Marien. I am a CPA from Norwich. I would like to speak from my position as the President of the Connecticut Society of CPAs. Our members include 6,000 CPAs in the State of Connecticut.

We all have different ideas on the budget cuts and additional taxes. We will not speak to that.

But we would like to thank you for what we believe are giant steps towards a better financial condition for the State of Connecticut that you have taken in this budget:

– A move to use Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP) in budgeting

– Not using debt to cover operating expenses

– A commitment to fully fund our pension obligations

– Not balancing the budget on the backs of the cities and towns

… and there are more steps that are needed.

Nobody wants to pay more in taxes. Nobody wants their services cut. But what people need to understand is the extent to which we have mortgaged our children and grandchildren’s future in the State of Connecticut over the past decades. This will not get better when the economy gets better. There is no way that the state can sustain this.

So thank you for making some tough decision to begin to face the State’s financial challenges.’

A woman spoke after me. (If you were speaking, you waited in the hall and missed everything else going on and the other speakers. Unless you could speak third so you could be in the front of the line.) She started her comments with “I went to a presentation by the Connecticut Society of CPAs this weekend…” (I spoke in Putnam. My 30-minute presentation started at 4 p.m. and they kept me there until 7 p.m. on Saturday night!!! Invest in a movie theater!) Anyway, she gave all the negative statistics in our ‘Fixing Our Future’ presentation. He asked, “Are you trying to get me to quit?” She followed up with a question about how he was going to fix that or something. But – we got our name out twice.

Malloy did smile and say thank you…  Although he smiled the whole time, even when they were beating him up.  I think he smiled because he knew he was going to cut them down at the knees as soon as they were done.  He corrected people on their facts.  He reminded people he did not have anything to do with getting us into this mess.  He asked people what their plan would be.  His team has already made comparison with neighboring states.  I can’t tell you how great he was at this.  It would be worth it to go to one of these, just to see how well he handles himself.

The final tally – governor 30; angry citizens 0.  (My guess is over 150 people signed up to speak, but only about 30 got the chance.)”

Thank you, Marcia, for the inside scoop! Marcia also got a little (more) ink in The Day’s coverage of the event; read all about it here!

Gov. Malloy himself got some fairly complimentary press in an editorial in yesterday’s New York Times: “Connecticut’s Better Budget.”

What do you all think? Impressed with how Malloy’s handling the criticism? Would you wait in line for hours for a chance to give your two cents’ worth?

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