April 29, 2008
By Ken Krayeske • 4:45 PM EST
You can send a check to the Charter Oak chapter of the Red Cross, said the Governor to morning deejay today, urging citizens to contribute to the relief fund for the home fire that knocked 150 people out of 120 apartments in Norwich this weekend.
Can't somebody do something about this traffic, gasped the Congressman trapped on the Merritt Parkway to the morning jock about the price of gas and the situation on the highways.
Ain't nothing we can't handle, said the man pushing the broom to his friend as they stood under the grocery store awning, under the raining gray sky.
Of all the conversations I heard today, I like the man pushing the broom the best.
I was ready to pull out my hair by the time I was done listening to Chaz and AJ and Billy and Megan Dahl hang out with Governor M. Jodi Rell and Congressman Chris Murphy this morning on WPLR.
And that was after I missed the beginning of their conversation while channel surfing down I-91, on my way to a property law exam from Hartford to Hamden, by car, of course.
What little I heard, though, at first sounded like Governor Rell being extremely gracious and patient to the seventh graders at PLR's PeeWee's playhouse. As she seriously tried to tell the listening audience how to help those made homeless by the fire, Chaz and AJ made bad jokes.
Gov. Rell praised the firefighters and the police for their heroics in averting death in the inferno, Chaz and AJ made bad jokes, and the discussion turned to the temporary Red Cross housing for the survivors of the blaze.
And only 5 of the 120 had renters' insurance, interjected Megan Doll, PLR's news and traffic ace. Hooray! I cheered. What audacity! She brought up a working class issue - the inability of the poor to insure against catastrophe - to the Republican governor. Socko!
Plenty of listeners probably want to contribute to the relief fund, but they are too broke because of rising gas prices, I thought, hoping that one of the DJs would channel my energy and say it for me.
Rell didn't take the bait, although she did lament rising food and gas prices with Jerry Kristafer a few minutes later on Big D 103. They bantered about Jim Amman's retirement. They talked about the Republicans' idea for a gas tax holiday, and she sold her people down the highway, as it were.
We can't pay for it, she said. Kristafer changed gears, and went easy on her about the New Haven railyard-ConnDOT fiasco. And then Kristafer talked about gas mileage, bitching about how he tailed a state employee doing 80 all the way up 91.
It's my tax money, he said, and they are wasting it. Rell said she has called for a 10 percent reduction in usage of state vehicles to save money. And the Governor graciously bid goodbye after that. Not a single positive word about carpooling, mass transit, busses, anything.
Just bitching about band-aids for our auto-based transit system. What we need is intensive surgery and rehabilitation, but our elected officials won't talk about it.
Back on PLR, after the Governor got off, and while we were waiting for Rep. Chris Murphy to check in – he was stuck on the Merritt Parkway heading south because there was an accident inside the West Rock tunnel, blocking the left lane – the PLR hosts mentioned that the governor gets driven around.
And doesn't Murphy get a car for being in Congress, too? And a whole lot of good it was doing him while he was stuck in traffic.
Murphy was exasperated. He wanted to be in the studio. The morning jocks said they even practiced their handshakes. Murphy had to catch a flight back to DC later in the afternoon. He couldn't turn around. Doll piped in that, oh yeah, there's an accident blocking I-91 northbound, too.
Chaz and AJ could only joke about how the people caught in that seemingly backwards moving traffic on the Merrit should've gone the bathroom before they left.
That's about when Murphy issued his manifesto of powerlessness – can't someone do something about this traffic?
Wait Congressman, I wanted to shout back at him. You're the one who got elected to office promising solutions. You're the one with the platform. You're the progressive guy who can command 10 minutes on the morning show to focus on issues.
Yet you're as fool helpless as the rest of us caught in this local transportation system dominated by multi-national corporations, and you are more content to avert the issue, sidestep the problem and talk about what it was like back at L.O.B. high school when you sat next to Jim Amman.
We were always getting in trouble, Murphy reminsced. Either Chaz or AJ cracked about having to go to the corner in grade school because you happen to sit next to the class clown.
Yeah, Murphy said, when I was in the house I was lucky enough to represent a district where I had to go north to get to Hartford.
Geez, Congressman, thanks for the inspiration. What kind of leadership is it to throw your hands up in the air at the problem and say, "I can't do anything about it either. We're plumb stuck."
Carpooling Congressman Murphy. Encourage people to use mass transit, Gov. But for God's sake, stop pretending that you can't do anything about our current predicament. We elected you to because we thought you could lead us to answers.
That's why I love the guy at the grocery store. He's pushing a broom, he's the salt of the earth, probably doesn't have renter's insurance, knows he's less than a paycheck away from financial ruin, but shoot, he's as confident as the day is long.
Ain't nothing we can't handle. And you can take that to the bank. We'll be carpooling long before the Congressman figures it out. We'll be bicycling before the Governor sets tax breaks for cyclists. We'll come up to the solutions in spite of poor political leadership.