Thursday, February 19, 2009

Things have changed at Capitol; not for the better

Happy Thursday. 

Yours truly took a sentimental journey yesterday (Wednesday, Feb. 18, 2009) to the state Capitol in Hartford to cover a story for the New Haven Independent. Back when I was working for the New Haven Register, nearly a generation ago, I spent quite a bit of time up there, covering statewide stories pertaining to New Haven business and real estate.

Back the, the press room was humming, with dozens of reporters squeezed into the two press rooms at the Capitol. There was a constant buzz in the room then. The major papers had a half-dozen people each and when the committees were conducting public hearings on bills about your beat, you got up there, too. 

There was no way only a half-dozen reporters were going to be able to cover all that was going on. Jim Mutrie and Alan Schoenhaus and Steve Kochko and Chris Blake and Greg Hladky and many others stalked the Capitol, fighting for the beat on a story.

Today, there are just as many hearings going on...I covered one on Tweed-New Haven Airport by the Transportation and Commerce committees. At the same time, there was a hearing on the budget by Appropriations and Judiciary was also hearing from interested parties.

Was there interest? The line to sign up to testify before Appropriations was as long as a football field. 
What has changed was the coverage. In one press room, Catherine Stuart, who calls herself CT New Junkie, was alone. She does a masterful job of covering the Capitol and the Independent uses many of her dispatches. Later, there was another reporter and another desk had some (Rockville-Manchester) Journal-Inquirers on it, which means a reporter lived there sometime.

The room was a mess of old furniture and chairs that looked as if they were the leftovers from somebody's garage sale.

The old press room was scruffy, but not like that. I didn't go up to the old auxiliary press room, which now is the television room. The accommodations might be better, but I was hauling around a lot of stuff and didn't want to climb another flight of stairs.

It was good to see Tom Monahan, the venerable Channel 30 reporter, wandering into the hearing room. A reporter for the New Haven Advocate was up at the Cap as well.

There is a lot going on in state government, yet the news organizations are cutting back and cutting back. The light that the press is supposed to shine on government leaves a lot of shadows for the politicians and bureaucrats to hide in. 

It's a shame. Now, the Tribune Co. apparently has told its operating units, The Hartford Courant and the  Advocate, to expect more cutting.

I just don't see how this will end well.

Page 2

It looks as if Benyamin (Bibi) Netanyahu will be the next prime minister of Israel.

Before you start putting on sackcloth and sitting in ashes, remember that true progress with the Palestinians has come while what people in this nation call hard-liners were in power in Israel. We went through the list last time, but Menachem Begin, Bibi (last time) and Ariel Sharon all presided over significant concessions to the Arabs. 

Not that it did any good.

I just wonder if the Hamas is talking about a  cease-fire because they feel Bibi will head the government and they also feel they can talk to him. Some Arabs are more comfortable with hard-liners than with wishy-washy types like Ehud Olmert, the guy who will be out of power when Bibi can form a government. 

Bibi is an American-style politician, which means he knows how to compromise. I just hope Avigdor Lieberman (no relation) can be kept to heel. He's dangerous.  And I'm glad the Cabinet won't talk about a cease-fire with Hamas until the terrorists hand back the soldier they captured years ago. 

There's a sad old joke about marriage being a give and take situation -- he gives and she takes. That's what it's been like the past 60 years. Israel gives and the Arabs, as Abba Eban loved to say, never miss an opportunity to miss and opportunity.

Proud grandpa shows off

Below, there is some video of my granddaughter, Tamar Spoerri, getting her Chumash, which is a Hebrew name for the Five Books of Moses. It's a right of passage in her school and she did well at it. It also allows grandpa to show off his new skills. Journalists these days have to be proficient in video, as well as still photography. And you must know how to edit video.

 I was taught by a master: Melissa Bailey of the Independent. It's fun and there is another example with the Tweed story I was referring to in the top segment.

So, as they say, without further ado, here is Tamar's ceremony, photographed and edited by  Len of Len's (still and video) Lens.

Until next time...

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