Romano: 2016 Brings Hope for Connecticut Republicans


“This state is not as blue as democrats would want you to believe.”  Those are the words of Connecticut Republican party chairman J. R. Romano, who is optimistic about GOP chances in the land of steady habits in 2016.

The winds are changing….people in the state are starting to recognize the poor policies the democrats and Dan Malloy are forcing down their throats.”

During a taping of Face the State set to air this Sunday on WFSB, Romano said Republicans should do well in our state next year.    “No state has suffered more under democratic leadership than Connecticut,” Romano told me and pointed out Republican gains in the 2015 municipal elections.

Romano has his eye on unseating Senator Richard Blumenthal.  “He is out of touch…..while the world is burning he is having a press conference about salmon.”  

Tune in this Sunday morning at 11 on WFSB.   We also have legendary Hartford Courant editorial cartoonist Bob Englehart on the program, who talked to me about leaving the newspaper after 35 years.     Bob shares some of his favorite pieces of artwork, and talks about his plans for the future.


Our flashback takes us back to 2009, when then Governor Jodi Rell was on Face the State talking about budget cuts, the same dilemma that now faces Governor Dannel Malloy.  See you Sunday!





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Face the State Producer to Work for Governor Malloy


A bittersweet announcement from WFSB:  longtime Face the State producer and Eyewitness News assignment editor Chris Collibee is leaving us to work in Governor Malloy’s press office.

I’m thrilled for Chris, and sad for us.  He has been one of the hardest working members of the Channel 3 team ever since he walked through the doors of the old Broadcast House in Hartford back in 2002.  Chris has been a major force behind the scene in so many big stories over the years including trials, murders, election nights, storms, and championships.

His love for politics was evident in his work on Face the State.   Chris loved researching our guests and helping dig out flashbacks from the archives.   Chris was also a friend and a former neighbor.  When we both lived near each other downtown, we often walked home together from Constitution Plaza after the 11PM news.

Chris’ departure is not a total surprise.  After he earned his MBA this past year, I knew a new challenge would come along.  I will miss him.

Chris is a great get for Governor Malloy, and their energy levels are well, on the same level.

Watch Chris talk about leaving and see the gift I gave him:  ties to wear for the governor, including a different color for various occasions:

By the way, as best as I can remember, the last person to jump from Channel 3 to the governor’s office was Larrye deBear, who left in 1974 to work in the press office for Governor Ella Grasso.


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Connecticut’s Fight Against Terrorism



“If you see something, say something.”  We’ve heard it continuously ever since 9/11, but the message is being stressed with more urgency this week.  The terrorist attacks in Paris have law enforcement working extra hard in Europe, the United States and even here in Connecticut.

One doesn’t think of the land of steady habits as a hideout for terrorists, but the feds say potential terrorists could be here.  So what can we do about it?

doragarySunday on Face the State, we talked with the Commissioner of Public Safety and Emergency Services Dora Schriro and Fairfield Police Chief Gary MacNamara, representing the Connecticut Police Chiefs Association.

They shared with us what is being done to keep the state safe, and about efforts to smoke out any terrorists.     Watch Schriro and MacNamara right here:

We were also joined by Beth Schiavino-Narvaez, superintendent of schools in Hartford about the Syrian refugee crisis and its impact on the capital city and the state.


Watch Schiavino-Narvaez here:

Our flashback takes us back to 1965.  Remember this?  Watch it here:




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Constitution Plaza, circa 1965


For many a Connecticut family, there are old holiday pictures in the photo album with Constitution Plaza as a backdrop.  The Festival of Light is fondly remembered by people from all over our state, who would come to downtown Hartford every day after Thanksgiving to see the plaza come alive with thousands of white lights.   Santa Claus would always arrive on that day and his sleigh would be lowered down one of the towers, and flip the switch to the lights.

The Festival of Light faded away a few years a back, replaced by Winterfest at Bushnell Park.  This Sunday in our Face the State flashback,  we took you back fifty years to 1965, when the first Festival of Light took place.

Younger people know the plaza as a moribund office plaza, but in its day it was thee place to be.   On Sunday, you’ll see some old film of the plaza, which featured restaurants, stores, events, performances, even a hotel with an outdoor swimming pool.

Watch the old film right here:



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Face the State Flashback: The Death of Sergei Grinkov


20 years ago this week our top story was a shocking one, Olympian Sergei Grinkov dropped dead of a heart attack at the age of 28.   It was big news in Connecticut, because Grinkov and his wife Ekaterina Gordeeva, known as Katia, had moved to suburban Hartford from their native Russia.

The couple trained at the International Skating Center in Simsbury and quickly became part of the community, part of our community.   They appeared on specials on WFSB, and were interviewed by many of us, including Gayle King, who did an in-depth piece on their lives as Nutmeggers.

In Sunday’s Face the State flashback, we pulled one of the stories from our archives that aired on November 20, 1995, as part of our extensive coverage of Grinkov’s passing.

Watch it right here:



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Newtown Native In Paris Talks About Attacks


Imagine your child is studying overseas, in one of the most beautiful cities on earth.   She’s having the experience of a lifetime, and as a parent you share in the excitement.  Then, after a text and a phone call, you are watching terrorist attacks unfolding in that city.

That was the reality for Cheryl Elliot of Westport, a college friend of mine.   She was still basking in the glow of an amazing trip earlier this month to France to visit daughter Molly when the news broke that terrorists were unleashing attacks in the city she was just walking around.


For both mother and daughter, the Paris attacks brought back feelings of the town where they lived for many years:  Newtown.

Watch our interview with Cheryl right here:

Here’s our talk with Molly here:

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Ex-Candidate Has Message for Blacks and Republicans


The 2012 senate race in Connecticut was an epic battle between Chris Murphy and Linda McMahon, but remember Brian K. Hill?

Hill lost the Republican nomination to McMahon, but picked up some admirers along the way who characterized his political future as bright.  Hill sat out the 2014 races, but what about 2016?

The Windsor attorney has been serving in the military reserves overseas, but during a brief trip home he came on Face the State to talk about his party, black voters and what’s next for him.   Tune in Sunday.

Also this weekend it seems every week there is a new study predicting doom and gloom for Connecticut, and we have another one with some mixed results.   Is there any silver lining to a declining birth rate and shrinking school population?  We will ask Paula Gilberto and Scott Gaul, who worked on a new research project so Metro Hartford can plan for the future.

Our flashback:  twenty years ago this week, the death of an Olympian who called Connecticut home was our big story.  We have a report from our archives from Gayle King.

Tune in Sunday morning at 11AM for Face the State on WFSB Channel 3.


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Mayors-Elect Bronin & Ganim Eager to Begin Work


They were the two big stories of the 2015 election. Luke Bronin elected mayor of the capital city, and Joe Ganim voted in as mayor of Connecticut’s largest city.  Even though the pair shared headlines on Tuesday, the two had never met, until they came in for a taping of Face the State that aired Sunday morning on WFSB. Both mayors-elect congratulated each other and exchanged niceties.  After the taping the two chatted briefly in general terms about the future.


In interviews with both incoming mayors, we talked about the futures of their cities. Bronin campaigned on making city hall more accountable, and we discussed his goals for moving Hartford forward. On Sunday, you’ll hear Mayor-elect Bronin discuss everything from development to police to the Dillon Stadium debacle. I also asked him about whether a casino would be good for the capital city, and if it would hurt Hartford if that entertainment facility to be run by Foxwoods and Mohegan Sun were to be built a few miles away in the suburbs.

” My instinct is that a casino is a not an answer to Hartford’s problems, If there is even going to be a discussion about it there needs to be a very public and very transparent very open one.”

Bronin also talked about a top priority, new jobs for a city with tremendous poverty.  “I want any and every job we can get in the city…. I will be fighting hard for every job of every kind anything that will bring economic growth and income to the city.”

Watch our Luke Bronin interview here:


Ganim and I talked about his agenda for Bridgeport, which has some similar budget problems to Hartford. The former mayor and future mayor also told me about his conversation with Governor Malloy and the transition with Mayor Bill Finch.  “We will cut millions of dollars and taxes…and look for efficiencies.   There are too many people on the payroll.”

I also asked Ganim about General Electric which is considering leaving neighboring Fairfield, and about a suggestion from a reporter that he might be in line to run for governor in 2018.

Watch our Joe Ganim interview here:

Watch our flashback right here:

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Malloy: Scarborough Not a Factor in Run for Third Term


A year ago this week, Governor Dannel Malloy was re-elected, but there is already speculation about who will run for governor in 2018.  Republicans would like to recapture the seat they won in 1994, 1998, 2002 and 2006, and one of the names being thrown around as a potential candidate is MSNBC host Joe Scarborough.

The host of “Morning Joe” lives in New Canaan, and recently attracted quite a bit of buzz as a potential candidate due to his public criticism of Connecticut’s tax policies that have General Electric considering a move out of state.


Malloy, who has not said whether he sees a third term on the horizon, has been irked by Scarborough’s comments, which have added fuel to the fire that Connecticut is unfriendly to business.

I asked the governor what he thinks of Scarboough as a candidate for governor:

GOV: “He’s an entertainer…. He thinks everthing is black and white.”:

DH:  “If he were to run for governor in 2018, would you be tempted to run?”

GOV:  “ I am putting decision off for a couple of years….. he would be a non-factor in my decision making process”

Watch the entire interview here:

The Scarborough exchange is at 8:50

Watch Joe Scarborough’s Face the State interview right here:

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2015 Election Preview


Who will succeed Pedro Segarra as mayor of Hartford?  Can Joe Ganim pull off a miraculous comeback?


These are the big questions we’ll talk about this Sunday on Face the State with reporters Jenna Carlesso of the Hartford Courant and Brian Lockhart of the Connecticut Post.    We’ll also hear from independent Joel Cruz as we finish out look at the Hartford candidates.   Tune in this Sunday morning at 11 on WFSB Channel 3.


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Halloween 2015


I’m usually working on Halloween night so in years past I’ve had to accompany my kids trick-or-treating dressed as a newscaster in my Channel 3 uniform, so I can easily return to the studio for the 11PM News. This year, Halloween falls on a Saturday,  and my son and daughter were thrilled that  Kara and I could get in to costume.  Their request?   Mom and Dad should compliment their superhero get-ups, and so I’m going as the Joker, and Kara, Catwoman.

I picked the Joker from the 1960s “Batman” television series because our children on occasion watch an old episode (new for them) and the latter Jokers on the big screen are a little more violent than the preposterous foolery in the tv show.

For the Joker’s suit, I took an old khaki suit and painted it.  Seriously.  Behr’s Delicious Berry interior paint from Home Depot did the trick.  I hung it in the backyard and when it dried it looked just like leather.


As for the hair, I bought a cheap wig at Five Below rather than the green hair paint.  Many years I ago went as Bart Simpson and I remembered that yellow hair spray didn’t come out all that easily.


Here’s the finished product that Kara and I tried out at a Halloween party this past weekend.


By the way, that khaki suit that I painted?  I wore it when I popped the question to Kara on Mackinac Island back in 2002.  Still fits!


Have a great Halloween!  The Joker was not the first time I was a clown.  My mom made these costumes.


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That Cool Car from Back to the Future


All this talk about the Back to the Future movies this week had me wondering about one of the iconic stars of the movies, the DeLorean.   The stainless steel time traveler with the gull wing doors was only produced for a few years in the 1980s, sans the time travel option, and you’d be hard pressed to find one on the road today.  Or maybe not.

A quick check on Craigslist shows one for sale in Milford, Connecticut.


The price?  $21,000.   A new one listed for about $25,000 in 1981.


This is one only of 34 DeLoreans registered in Connecticut, according to the Connecticut Department of Motor Vehicles.

Those gull wing doors are pretty cool, and auto designers love them.  Buick used them in their 2013 Buick Riviera concept.


So why doesn’t this feature ever make it to production?  Popular Mechanics has the answer:

Here’s the link to the listing for that DeLorean:

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Cannon Hoping to End 44 Years of Democratic Control


This Sunday on Face the State, we were joined by a type of candidate for mayor of Hartford we didn’t have in the election of 2011: a Republican.  Businessman Ted Cannon is carrying the GOP banner this fall, after his party sat out the race last time.  During the taping, Cannon said despite the overwhelming number of registered Democrats in the city, he can wins, something his party last did in 1969.

“I’m appealing to the fact that one party rule does not work in the city…..and people are starting to get the message.”

Democrat Luke Bronin is also running on the change message, but Cannon told me changing one Democrat for another is not change.  He didn’t mention Pedro Segarra by name, but said the next mayor needs to restore trust and accountability that has been lost.

Cannon also weighed in the Dillon Stadium debacle, whether Hartford should pursue a casino, and more.  Watch it here:


Also on the program we will be talking about the last Republican mayor of the city, Ann Uccello.  Her new autobiography is out and we will talk with the author Paul Pirrotta.  Preview of that here:

See you Sunday.

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A Hartford History Lesson


A new book will hit bookstores next week that will be of great interest to people across the city of Hartford and the state.   “Ann Uccello, a Connecticut Trailblazer,” is an autobiography of former Hartford Mayor Ann Uccello, who broke barriers when she was elected in 1967 as the first woman elected mayor of a capital city in the United States.

This Sunday on Face the State, author Paul Pirrotta joined us to talk about the life story of a woman whose name is now seen by tends of thousands of drivers every day on highway signs above Interstate 84,  Uccello is a remarkable lady I’ve had the pleasure to get to know and I was honored to be asked to write the foreword to the book.

Watch the interview here:


Also Sunday, our Face the State flashback takes us back to 1989, when a landmark was closing its doors forever.    The Statler Hilton, later called the Parkview Hilton,  played host to presidents, candidates, celebrities, prom goers and newlyweds.   It’s demise seems surprising in retrospect, because of its prime location across from the state capitol.


By the late 80s, the facade had been covered in mirrored glass and business was slipping.  The plan was to raze it and erect Connecticut’s own World Trade Center.  How’d that turn out?  The site is still empty, 25 years later.


The story saw on Sunday is from New Year’s Eve, when David Ushery interviewed the employees and patrons inside the hotel on its final day.


Watch the flashback here:

We will close out this edition of Face the State by remembering a Connecticut legend who died this week, Simon Konover.  Thanks to Connecticut Public Broadcasting, we’ll hear from Simon Konover, in an interview from 2011.


To learn more about this businessman, philanthropist and Holocaust survivor, read his obituary in the Courant:

To watch the complete CPTV interview, click here:

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Polls, Casinos, and 2016


This week’s Quinnipiac poll delivered some grim news for Governor Malloy in the form of the worst poll numbers of his gubernatorial life.  What does it mean?  This Sunday we’ll get some answers from Christine Stuart of CT News Junkie.  We’ll also talk about the Republicans and their demand for a special session, the casino debate and the next legislative battles..

Speaking of special sessions and casinos, our flashback revisits the big issue from twenty years ago this fall: whether to allow a gambling resort in Bridgeport.


You’ll hear from some of the key players in the story, which could repeat itself in the coming months, if Connecticut largest city decides to get back in the hunt for a casino.

Also this Sunday, we’ll meet August Wolf, the Republican seeking to unseat Senator Richard Blumenthal in 2016.


Wolf is a former Olympian from Stamford who is well aware of the uphill climb a Republican has in Connecticut, but argues the mood of voters here has soured dramatically since the last election.  He will lay out his case on Sunday.

Tune in for Face the State this Sunday morning at 11 on WFSB.

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My First Car


I’ve owned more than a dozen cars in my life beginning with this example of a 1970s gas guzzler, a 1974 Mercury Montego Brougham.   MX Brougham to be exact.  It was identical to the one in the above picture, right down to the faded blue paint and vinyl roof.   For some reason I didn’t take any pictures of it, and as evident in the photo below, I spurned it on prom night for my parents’ Mercury Monarch, whose color embarrassingly matched that of my awful tuxedo.   At least my mullet was cool, right?


I picked up the Montego for about $700 from someone in my hometown of Norwood, Massachusetts.  As I recall, it had about 80 thousand miles or so, and chugged down about 12 miles of gas to the gallon.  It had those elongated safety bumpers mandated by the federal government in the 1970s and by the 80s when I bought it, the car looked pretty out of style, but it was cheap, and I loved it.

I had a few more beaters after that until I graduated college and bought my first new car, a 1986 Buick Skyhawk T-Type.


Again, not mine in the photograph, but this Skyhawk is a dead ringer: same color and I never took the fog lamp covers off either.   Buick only sold a few hundred of these models, so they were pretty rare.   I haven’t seen one in the wild in years.

I was sold on the funky interior and a built in tape cassette holder.  Loved that baby Buick until I traded it in for this:

What was your first car?

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A Simple Test Could Save Your Life


I was off the news earlier this week for this, my colon.  I had my second colonoscopy in five years, and I’m encouraging you to get this test if your doctor should recommend it.

Due to a history of colon cancer in my family, my doctor advised me to undergo the procedure, which for sure has its unpleasant aspects, but really wasn’t that bad.  Nothing beats the feeling when it’s all over and the gastronenterologist tells your colon is spectacular and cancer free.

The day before you don’t eat, and you take some laxatives and magnesium citrate, although the menu of colon cleansers can vary from physician to physician.  You let the products go to work in the privacy of your own home and you  use your bathroom, a lot.

The next morning you go to the hospital where the colonoscopy is performed, you’re given an IV for a painkiller and a sedative.  As crazy as it sounds, I asked for the minimum amount of sedative so I could get a tour of my innerds courtesy of a camera my doctor guided through my intestines.  Most patients want to be completely put under, but I wanted to watch on the screen.  I guess it’s the journalist in me.  The whole colonoscopy lasts about twenty minutes. image

You’re wheeled into recovery and I was given a muffin and something to drink to break that 24 plus hour fast.


I’ll admit, I was apprehensive as I was on the gurney waiting to go in.   I thought of the people in my family who were diagnosed with colon cancer.   I thought of the college friend I ran into  not long along ago who is battling colon cancer, and the two classmates from my childhood who died of colon cancer this past summer. I also thought of Katie Couric who underwent a colonoscopy on live television, a groundbreaking event that raised awareness of colon cancer.

I got a clean bill of health but will still have to get another colonoscopy in a few years.   Colon cancer is very curable if caught early, so ask your doctor if you are at risk.

For more info:

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Nader Suggests Brown Warren Ticket for Democrats


Former presidential candidate Ralph Nader is suggesting a ticket for the Democrats in 2016: Brown/Warren.

During a taping of Face the State that aired Sunday on WFSB-TV (CBS) Hartford, the consumer advocate and author criticized Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton, and said California Governor Jerry Brown and Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren would be a great “east coast-west coast ticket.”    Nader called Warren a preferable presidential candidate to Clinton, but felt she would only run for vice-president and told me Brown wants to run for president.

Jerry Brown is waiting,” according to Nader, who said someone he knows who spoke to Brown directly told him the governor wants in.  “Don’t think Jerry Brown isn’t interested……he is waiting for the party to say we have an emergency here,  we need someone well known with a record.”


That emergency could be further decline in the polls for Clinton, or damaging revelations or legal trouble from the FBI regarding the investigation into her private email system, a setup Nader called “dangerous.”

“It’s  (Brown/Warren) a great consolation prize if Hillary,  after sucking out the oxygen out of the political system on the democratic side and falters or declines or decides it isn’t worth the trouble,” Nader said.


Nader also talked about President Obama, Jeb Bush, Donald Trump, and his new book “Return to Sender.”   We also talked at length about his Connecticut childhood, and his new museum in Winsted, the American Museum of Tort Law, which features a Chevrolet Corvair.


Watch part 1:

Watch part 2:

Watch part3:

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Baby Names Denise and Dennis Coming Back?


When my co-anchor Denise D’Ascenzo and I were growing up, our first names were very popular.   I certainly wasn’t the only Dennis in class and if you called out “Denise” at least four or five girls would turn around.

Not so in 2015.  You’d be hard pressed to find a youngster in school with the name Denise or Dennis, and even less likely in a hospital maternity ward, where Noah and Emma rule and newborns with Denise or Denise written on their bassinets are rare.


According to the federal government, Noah and Emma were the most popular baby names in 2014 followed by Liam and Olivia.   Denise ranked 777 last year on the social security baby name index, right up there with Joyce and Wendy, but trailing once hot names like Edith and Marjorie.  Gladys, which once competed with Denise in the cool moniker department  didn’t even make the top 1000.


As for boys, Dennis comes in at 491, with Harvey and Darren in the same neighborhood.  Have you met a child named Harvey lately?  I didn’t think so.  In 2014, Dennis was beaten out by Lawrence yet left Gary and Ralph in the dust.

But could pop culture fuel a resurgence of Denise and Dennis as baby names?    Kermit the frog’s new porcine paramour is named, Denise and the new baby vampire in Transylvania 2 is called Dennis.   We can hear it now in delivery rooms everywhere, “let’s name our daughter after the new pig on The Muppets”  or “our son should bear the name of the grandson of Drac from the movies.”

It was worth a shot.

By the way, Denise and I were truly humbled to learn that a local woman named her daughter and son after us.  Seriously.   At last check those babies with our names were in college.  Ouch.

Check the popularity of your name here:

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