Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Are they kidding?

Rowland May Get A New City Job
Waterbury Mayor Has Spot For Ex-Governor

Waterbury Mayor Michael Jarjura, right, pictured here with former Governor John Rowland in 2002, said "I have every confidence that [Rowland] will conduct himself to the highest standards of ethics." (JOHN WOIKE / July 1, 2002)

By JON LENDER And EDMUND H. MAHONY | Courant Staff Writers
January 23, 2008

Convicted former Gov. John G. Rowland would re-enter public service under a newly created Waterbury economic development coordinator position proposed Monday by Mayor Michael Jarjura.

Jarjura, a Democrat, confirmed to The Courant Tuesday night that he has made "an executive decision" to offer Rowland a job that would be created under a proposed agreement between the city and the Waterbury Regional Chamber of Commerce.

Calling the proposal "my idea," Jarjura said that Rowland, a Republican now living in Middlebury, was the only candidate he interviewed, and that he hopes details can be settled so the former governor can start work within "a couple of weeks."

Payment of Rowland's salary — as yet unspecified, though Jarjura said he hopes it will be large enough to live on — would be shared by Waterbury taxpayers and the chamber in a proportion not yet determined, Jarjura said.

Rowland, who was forced to resign in 2004, then convicted and jailed for corruption after admitting he accepted more than $100,000 in improper benefits from businessmen, could not be reached Tuesday night.

Rowland was sentenced on March 18, 2005, to a year and a day in federal prison after pleading guilty to a federal conspiracy charge that arose from his receiving $107,000 in gifts and services from businessmen who won hundreds of millions of dollars in contracts and tax breaks from his administration. Rowland served about 10 months.

Asked why he wants to use taxpayer funds to hire and help pay a felon convicted of such conduct, Jarjura said: "He made a mistake. He admitted it. He atoned for his mistake, and … I think he has a lot to offer to the people of this city. … He can definitely jump-start our economic development initiatives here. Are we supposed to forever blame an individual for a mistake? I don't believe that."

Jarjura, who repeatedly referred to Rowland as "the governor," said the state's former chief executive is "eminently qualified" because, in more than nine years as governor, he focused on redeveloping the state's cities.

He said he is not worried about a repeat of Rowland's past conduct. "I know that he heartily regrets his transgressions," Jarjura said, "and I know that he is in a different place from when he was in that realm. And I have every confidence that he will conduct himself to the highest standards of ethics and professionalism, and I have no qualms about it at all."

Jarjura said he spoke twice with Rowland in recent weeks about the possible job. On Tuesday, the second time he talked to Rowland, the mayor said, "I called him and told him … I was planning on presenting this to the chamber," wanting to make sure Rowland was interested.

He said Rowland responded that "he was very excited about the opportunity to bring value to the city of Waterbury."

Jarjura said he proposed to chamber President Stephen R. Sasala II that the city enter into an agreement with the chamber for a cooperative economic development effort, which also would involve the quasi-public Waterbury Development Corporation.

Jarjura said Sasala responded positively and plans to bring the matter to his organization's governing board, perhaps as soon as the end of the week.

The mayor said he hopes a "memorandum of understanding" can be developed to formalize the arrangement so Rowland can begin working — in an office at the chamber of commerce, supported by chamber staff and working under Sasala, but also responsible to the city administration.

Jarjura said a "reasonable" estimate of the cost of Rowland's proposed new office, including a clerical staff, is about $200,000. He had no estimate for Rowland's salary or what the city-chamber split would be.

Jarjura said that Rowland's duties "would be extensive — obviously, reaching out to all the existing large employers of the city and seeing if there is a way to expand their operations."

Rowland also would find employers "to relocate from outside the city. … It's a strategy of being receptive to business and growing the [city's] grand list" of taxable property, Jarjura said.

Sasala said he liked Jarjura's proposal. He said he polled chamber members and directors informally this week and found them "very strongly in favor" of hiring Rowland.

"Gov. Rowland is very highly regarded in Waterbury," Sasala said Tuesday night. "I think it is fair to say that there is tremendous support."

Sasala said he could decide to hire Rowland unilaterally. But, given "the situation," he said he decided to discuss a Rowland position with chamber directors next week. "I expect it will be a done deal in the next couple of days," he said.

Sasala said Jarjura proposed Rowland as a development "rainmaker" in Waterbury.

He said Rowland would be paid jointly with private money raised by the chamber and with public funds from the city of Waterbury. He said he did not have the amount of the salary readily available Tuesday night but that it would be enough to provide Rowland with a comfortable living.

"I think it certainly will be suitable for him," Sasala said.

Rowland got out of a prison in Pennsylvania and completed four months of home confinement in mid-2006. Within a week he was preparing to embark on a public speaking career. His first gig: warning students in Rhode Island of "the perils of abusing power."

He was booked as part of a weeklong speakers program that also included former President Clinton, former U.S. Sen. George Mitchell and TV-radio commentator Bill O'Reilly at the 2006 World Scholar-Athlete Games. The games, run by the Institute for International Sport, took place at the University of Rhode Island's Kingston campus.

By the end of the year, he was delivering an inspirational message to students at a Christian school in Simsbury about how he found faith and inspiration in prison.

"If you don't have a good fundamental foundation with your faith and with your God, that path will be filled with pride, ego and just self-satisfaction," he told the students. "At the end of the day, it doesn't really mean anything."

Contact Jon Lender at

Copyright © 2008, The Hartford Courant


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear Mr. William Pape, Publisher of The Waterbury Republican,
Your love sick devotion to former Governor John Rowland, like Rabbi Korff’s to Richard Nixon, was as predictable as it was twisted. Mayor Jarjura’s appointment of Rowland as Waterbury’s Economic Czar makes about as much sense as a Pharmacy hiring a convicted heroin addict.
Just read the following from the website Rowland, Inc.:
The crimes of federal prisoner #15623-014 John Rowland are numerous and of colossal scale. Connecticut taxpayers will be footing the bill for Rowland's scams for decades into the future. In a state and city with an extensive culture of political corruption, Rowland's decade in power ascended to a new level of fraud. The biggest frauds he perpetrated against the state's treasury were each in excess of $200 million:
• the disappearance of $220 million in an illegal loan in the CCRA/Enron scheme*
• the $317 million of no-bid contracts awarded to Tomasso family entities
• the over $200 million in state subsidies and investments showered on Pfizer/NLDC in New London and New Haven
• the over $500 million Rowland's State Treasurer, Paul Silvester, steered to favored investment firms before Silvester was also caught and sent to prison.
Then there is the minor matter of an unpaid $2,199.66 bill (for stone for his vacation cottage) from O&G Industries which was not paid by the governor until four years later as his ethical problems began to catch up to him. Four years during which O&G received more than $276 million from the state. Common Cause has revealed that individuals associated with this firm contributed $136,975 to various political campaigns, primarily those in which Rowland was a candidate.
Do the math. If you add the five figures above, it is clear John G. Rowland, former Connecticut Congressman and Governor, was a master criminal who purloined over $1,500,000,000 on behalf of his powerful patrons. At sentencing [wherein he admitted on the record to committing several felonies] Rowland claimed he possessed but $10,000 in a checking account as his entire assets, after a decade as the criminal mastermind behind the greatest robbery in history. $10,000 amounts to less than one thousandth of one percent of the massive haul from all of his crimes.
Contrast this to Connecticut State Senator Ernest Newton, convicted in early 2006 of taking $5,000 in bribes and engaging in a pattern of shaking down constituents and selling his office. Newton got five years in prison, comparable to sentences handed out to other public officials who violate the public trust. When the feds were forced to lock up Governor John G. Rowland because of his increasingly obvious corruption, he served but 10 months in prison. Upon release in February of 2006, Rowland announced that he had gained religion and would henceforth proceed with his life based on "blind faith." Not likely. Meet the new Rowland, same as the old Rowland, we won't be fooled again.
But what’s your excuse Mr. Pape? You’re so ideologically blind that you really think there is no one else out there who can do a better job for Waterbury as John Rowland. And you openly challenge anyone to prove you wrong. Be serious! Any former Democrat or Republican Congressman like Jim Maloney or Nancy Johnson or just about anyone they recommended would be a better choice than John Rowland. In fact, my choice would be for local businessman Gerard Somma of Somma Tool Company given the brilliant display of honor and integrity he showed by publicly resigning from the Waterbury Chamber of Commerce because they chose Rowland. Now you do better!

Tue Jan 29, 04:57:00 PM 2008  

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