Monthly Archives: March 2013

CL&P To Ratepayers: Please Remit $414 Million For Storms of 2011-12

by Categorized: Public finance, Utilities Date:

Connecticut Light & Power filed more than 600 pages of documents with regulators Thursday, launching its case for reimbursement of $462 million the company said it spent on five major storms over the last two years including Sandy, Irene and the freak snowstorm of October, 2011.

The company had said it might not seek a payback until 2014.  In all, the company said it spent $462 million but is seeking less from ratepayers.

Here’s the rundown, with the October snowstorm likely to generate the most controversy:

1. October 2011 Nor’easter snowstorm:  $175 million (1.44 million customers restored).

2. Storm Sandy, October-November 2012: $156 million (856,184 customers restored).

3. Tropical Storm Irene, August 2011: $111 million (1 million customers restored).

4. June 2011 storm: $11 million (209,045 customers restored).

5. Sept. 2012 storm: $9 million (80,575 customers restored).

CL&P is seeking $414 million of the total because its parent company, Northeast Utilities, agreed to forgo $40 million from the nor’easter as a condition of its 2012 merger with Boston-based NSTAR.  Several official reports panned CL&P’s handling of that storm recovery, which cost the former head of the company his job. In addition, an $8 million storm recovery fund was already set aside.

It remains unclear what the reimbursements would to do customers’ rates. The $414 million amounts to an average of nearly $400 from each of the company’s 1.2 million customers — money that would be added to the rate base, collected over a period of years.

“The damage from these natural disasters and the response to complete repairs was extraordinary and unlike anything in CL&P history,” said Bill Herdegen, the CL&P president.   “Typically, storms of this magnitude strike years or decades apart, but in 16 months, we experienced four of the company’s ten most devastating storms.  Responding to Mother Nature’s wrath is a necessary, but costly part of the utility business.”

Those costs included bringing in thousands of outside tree and line crews and replacing thousands of utility poles, transformers and segments of wire.

“Necessary” is the key word, as the Public Utilities Regulatory Authority will consider whether the company’s actions were that, and were prudent.

 

 

Concord Music Acquisition Boosts Star Power For New Haven Firm

by Categorized: Consumer, Media, Wall Street Date:

For Brett D. Hellerman, CEO of Wood Creek Capital Management LLC in New Haven, buying one of the most prominent independent record companies is a coup for several reasons, not least a partnership with one of Hollywood’s revered legends.

Wood Creek’s purchase of Concord Music Group, based in Beverly Hills, a deal announced this week and expected to close soon, bolsters the $1 billion-plus investment firm’s niche in music and intellectual property. Concord’s recording roster is shimmering, with Sir Paul McCartney, Alison Kraus, James Taylor, Kenny G and many others; and its copyright and record catalog includes Tony Bennett, Ray Charles, John Coltrane, Ella Fitzgerald, Frank Sinatra and Creedence Clearwater Revival.

Paul McCartney at 2012 London Olympics opening ceremony. Reuters.

Paul McCartney at 2012 London Olympics opening ceremony. Reuters.

Huge names all, and the deal positions the investors in Wood Creek — a separately run affiliate of MassMutual — to profit from distribution channels that are helping to save a battered recording industry: Sirius, Spotify, Rhapsody, Pandora and, of course iTunes, which doubled its sales last year through global outreach.

And the deal, with a nondisclosed price reported by Variety and others to be more than $120 million, comes with Norman Lear, the 90-year-old TV and movie producer who changed American culture with “All in the Family” and other shows in the ’70s.  Lear, a former owner of Concord, has until now been co-chairman of the business, and will remain closely involved with the company.

Lear comes into the office nearly every day, an employee there told me.  Does that mean Hellerman is now Norman Lear’s boss?

Norman Lear, in 2009 Los Angeles Times photo

Norman Lear, in 2009 Los Angeles Times photo

“I’m not his boss, believe me. He’s a titanic figure in entertainment,” Hellerman said in a phone interview Thursday. “He’s agreed to remain on as chairman emeritus, it’s great for us, it provides continuity…I never thought that I would be in business with Norman Lear, and I’m very happy about it.”

Concord was founded in Concord, Cal. in 1973 by auto dealer and jazz enthusiast Carl Jefferson, who built the business for two decades.  In 1999, Lear and a partner bought Concord from a firm that had owned it for a few years.  They later moved it to Beverly Hills and bought Fantasy Inc., which included several record labels. They also devised a partnership with Starbucks that proved groundbreaking.

Concord merged ownership in 2008 with Village Roadshow Pictures Group, the independent film company, forming Village Roadshow Entertainment Group — the entity that sold Concord to Wood Creek, an asset management firm.

Hellerman is bullish on the industry that’s making a transition from the sale of physical records to a streaming- and cloud-based licensing model.

“If you own the copyrtight you don’t really care how it gets listened to,” Hellerman said. “You get paid….That’s why it’s called a penny busiuness, you’ve got to go pick up your pennies.”

The fast-moving developments with online and digital channels “are really showing what the future of the distribution is going to look like,” said Hellerman, a longtime manager and executive in alternative investments.

The record business grew sales last year for the first time in a decade, he said. “It’s been a near-death experience for a lot of record companies…At the same time, more people around the world are listening to more music for more hours than ever before.”

The music business, in short, is solving a vexing problem — how to generate revenues — that the news business is still struggling with, though the music industry it still has serious concerns about piracy.  Forward-thinking investment firms such as Wood Creek have probably helped, by making innovative arrangements for distribution.

Wood Creek is not new to the music business; it owns The Bicycle Music Co., with a catalog featuring Michael Jackson, Marvin Hamlisch, Alanis Morissette, Cyndi Lauper and many others, along with other entertainment assets.

“We’ve kind of pioneered institutional investments in intellectual property assets,” Hellerman said. “In a knowledge economy, intellectual property is infrastructure.”

Maybe so, but most railroads, factories and even consumer brands don’t have Hollywood star power.

In addition to being chairman emeritus, Lear is expected to acquire an interest in Concord.  The existing management of Concord, including CEO Glen Barros, will stay on, along with two entertainment executives that Wood Creek is sending, who have been affiliated with the New Haven firm.

“We’re very hands-on investors, we’re actively involved in the strategy of our businesses,” Hellerman said. “We’re not going to figure out which records Concord should be releasing but we’re involved in an appropriate manner given our ownership of the company.”

Lear’s comment, released by Concord, shows his effusive belief in the power of creativity.

“It has long been my contention that, when the world finds a solution to its global concerns, the door will have been kicked open by the arts, with music leading the way.  I congratulate Brett Hellerman and his team for joining Concord and its management in that understanding.”

We can imagine many productive, heated debates ensuing and probably a further consolidation of the music business.

Wood Creek was formed in 2005 with the partnership of MassMutual’s giant Babson Capital Management LLC and Norfolk Management Group LLC, headed by Hellerman.

Norfolk was named for its hometown in Connecticut, where Hellerman, speaking of railroads and infrastructure, owns the old train station.

Poll: 49 Percent of Commuters Text While Driving

by Categorized: Consumer, Technology Date:

Nearly half of all commuters admit to texting while driving even though 98 percent know it’s dangerous, a new poll sponsored by AT&T shows.

The 49 percent figure is higher than reported in other surveys. Worse, the AT&T poll, released Thursday, shows that 60 percent of commuters did not text while driving three years ago.  That means at least 10 percent of people who drive to work took up the texting-while-driving habit recently — and that’s what 40 percent of them call it, the AT&T survey shows — a habit.

An April, 2012 poll of 1,200 teen drivers, also sponsored by AT&T, showed that 43 percent text while driving including 11 percent who admit to doing so “often.” That poll is not directly comparable to the recent adult poll, and, of course, teens might be less likely to admit what they’re doing.

Watch a video on the adult poll here.

AT&T did not release data showing how often people text while driving to work, how extensively or how they do it, or whether they send texts in addition to reading texts and emails.  Regardless, it’s clearly a dangerous and preventable activity and in my non-professional observation, it seems to function like an addiction.

AT&T is beefing up its “It Can Wait” campaign to stop texting while driving, calling on employers to ask their commuters to take the no-texting pledge — which has been done by 1.3 million people, many of them teens. The company has used videos with young people such as Jamie Nash giving their horror stories of texting while driving, and is now trying to spread the word to adults.

The commuter poll was conducted by ResearchNow. The teen driving poll was done by Beck Research.

The 21-Page Health Exchange Application Form: Not A Burden

by Categorized: Consumer, Health Care Date:

Critics on the left as well as the right are panning the government’s proposed application forms for people seeking health insurance under the state exchanges, starting Oct. 1.

Too much work to fill out! Too Long! Too complicated! They said it would be as easy as buying something on Amazon!

Nonsense, nonsense, nonsense.  Yes, the forms look long at first glance — 21 pages for the basic paper form — but a determined sixth grader could fill them out in about the time it takes to watch back-to-back Sponge Bob episodes on Nickelodeon.

Click here to see the Health Exchange 21-page application

Finishing the task would take slightly more effort than watching cartoons, and that’s where the trouble starts.  Sadly, we are a nation stooping to the lowest common denominator of everything and apparently that holds true for the most important annual purchase that any family will make.

Simply put, the 21-page form is as simple as it can reasonably be, and anyone who can’t fill it out will get help.  It’s worth looking at, because Connecticut plans to use the federal version — states are allowed to design their own if they want — and because this whole flap about the complexity of the forms is nothing but political posturing by people who want Obamacare to go away, or to offer even more services to lazy Americans who now must exert a little bit of effort to deal with their well-being.

All of it is in plain language, with absolutely no need to calculate anything and then plug it in somewhere else to make further calculations, like we see in tax forms. None of that.  One page is a clear outline of what the form includes. Fully ten pages are devoted to information  about as many as five of the applicant’s family members who might need coverage as well.

One page asks if the applicant is a Native American; another asks whether he or she wants to designate an authorized representative to handle the insurance purchase; one full page is devoted to the applicant’s signature; and one page gives instructions.

In short, the form requires the average household to fill out about eight pages of information, much of it about income and their current health coverage. This makes sense because the form must determine whether people are eligible for Medicaid or the private insurance subsidy.

It’s only that long because it’s so easy to follow: Did you have your hours cut? Did you lose your job? Is there any other reason why your income is less than what our electronic record show? And so forth.

Still, you’d think the unit of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services that devised the form had reinvented the IRS, to hear all the barbs being said about it.

You’d expect this drivel from opponents of Obamacare, who, after all, want it to go away altogether.  An editorial in the right-wing Washington Times is typical.  These are the same people, by the way, who would howl if the form left out questions about where the applicant is now getting health insurance — not always an easy answer — and whether the applicant has any investment income.

But we’re also seeing criticism from the left, in the form of Ron Pollack, head of the pro-Obamacare Families USA, who told the Associated Press, “This lengthy draft application will take a considerable amount of time to fill out and will be difficult for many people to be able to complete.” He added, correctly, that the form does not include the actual selection of an insurance plan — which itself will be a chore.

Pollack wants a simpler form, which is impossible, and he wants more help to be available, but there’s no evidence we’ll see a shortage of assistance when the signup period starts. In fact, the government has set aside tens of millions for that purpose, as much as $60 for each applicant in some states.

HHS also also issued a 60-page instruction manual for the online version of the form, and some of the same critics are blasting that as well. This is maddeningly idiotic, because most of that manual is a step-by-step explanation of how the online form will operate, not work that applicants will have to do.

Click here to see the Health Exchange Online Instructions

“The questionnaire contains all potential items that can be displayed on the online application,” the manual states. “Items will be displayed depending on applicants’ household and income situations, so applicants won’t be required to complete this entire list of items. Most applicants will need to complete less than one-third of these items.”

There are some trouble spots. One Louisiana senator doesn’t like that the form asks applicants if they are registered to vote, and links to a voter registration form if they’re not. He’s right — that’s sending a confusing message and brings in politics, though it would be nice to get more of the nation’s 50 million people who lack health coverage to also vote.

Another part of the form asks about race and ethnicity. It’s marked “optional,” and it clearly says the answers will not affect the applicant’s coverage, but it ought to say “you do not have to fill out this section.”

Those are fine points. We are talking about  a national effort to require every resident, every citizen, to have health insurance, a complicated product with an even more complicated financing system.

A nation that pays for more than half of this coverage asking people to spend an hour or two to help assure their own health is not too much. Grow up, America.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Prominent Hartford Citizen Recalls The First Test of the AR-15 Rifle

by Categorized: Defense, Technology Date:

Before the AR-15 rifle came to Colt Firearms, before it became the M-16, before anyone even dreamed it would become America’s most popular gun, David E.A. Carson was there.

Carson, a Hartford resident and the retired CEO of People’s United Bank, played a key role in the first testing of the first-ever models of the rifle, which were delivered to Fort Benning, Ga. for Army testing after ArmaLite made the prototypes.

David E. A. Carson.jpg

It was a competition to see which gun would succeed the World War II-era M-1 as the Army’s infantry rifle. The AR-15 was a radical design based on a smaller bullet and lightweight materials.

“In 1958 I was Private First Class Carson, mathematical statistician for the Small Arms Division of the US Army Infantry Board,” Carson wrote in an email  “There were three rifles in the test, one from Springfield Arsenal, another from Remington Arms and the third from ArmaLite and Gene Stoner.”

“It was a fascinating experience!  My job was to take the test data and analyze it using the mathematics of that era. We had no computers and used mechanical calculators.”

Carson’s conclusion: “The Armalite AR-15 was the clear winner!”

Others agreed. But the Army instead chose the Springfield Armory model, dubbed the M-14.

If the ArmaLite had won, it’s entirely possible that a struggling Colt’s would not have bought the design, and it’s possible there would be no Colt’s today.

Click here for more on Colt’s AR-15 history.

The ArmaLite lost in part because of a controversial water test, which Carson recalls.

“To some extent all the rifles had a problem with the water test, however the AR-15 had the most severe problem and yet potentially the easiest solution. I have always thought that the water test was not realistic.

“The rifles were put in a fixed mount with the barrel pointing up. A water hose was fixed to shower the weapon for a period of time and then the rifle was fired. This was unlike other user tests where the rifle was fired by a soldier. There was a lot of discussion about this test both its design and the reporting of the results.”

Carson, then age 24, thinks he could be the last person alive involved in that test.  He has not, for the record, taken a public position on Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s proposed ban of the AR-15.

AT&T vs. Verizon: The 4G LTE War in Connecticut

by Categorized: Consumer, Technology Date:

Who’s investing more heavily in their wireless network in Connecticut — AT&T or Verizon?

It’s a war.  AT&T says it poured $750 million into networks in this state over the last three years, a rate that’s been consistent for several years. This includes “expansion of our super-fast 4G  LTE network,” the company said.

“Just today, AT&T completed an expansion of its 4G LTE network to more towns in Hartford County,” AT&T said in a recent release.

Verizon recently announced a $256 million upgrade to its wireless network throughout New England in 2012, including 4G LTE service on the Connecticut shoreline, and added cell sites in 16 towns in this state.

Ah, that’s the same amount in New England that AT&T spent in Connecticut, so AT&T is the leader, right? Not so fast, Verizon counters. Its investment is all wireless, while AT&T’s numbers also include wireline spending, on the company’s vast, house-to-house network of landlines. Remember those?

No one is breaking down wireless spending in Connecticut by year.

AT&T claims to have the largest and fastest 4G network and Verizon claims to have the best, having won the J.D. Power top award for New England in 2012.   But if you’re a customer in, say, Newington with a very specific footprint, those claims might mean nothing to you. And soon enough, both companies will have us fully covered with the latest 4G service and they’ll be crowing about 5G.

The market will continue to decide, and for now, the companies are close to even nationally — with neither one giving out customer figures for Connecticut. It’s great that they’re continuing to spend money here, and in fact, the Connecticut Economic Resource Center released a report this year showing that AT&T has spent $21 billion in Connecticut over the last five years, including salaries, purchased goods and services, taxes and all operations.

That’s uplifting, but what I want to know is how much are we paying to both companies collectively for all this telecom largesse? And is Connecticut a net exporter or importer of telecom profits? Those numbers are slower in coming.

And another thing: What about my old-fashioned 3G service, which both companies happen to still sell. I’ve noticed it’s getting a lot slower lately. Could it be that they’re not supporting 3G, in the hopes of pulling expensive upgrades out of us laggards who bought service waaaaay back in mid-2o12?

 

Malloy’s Zingers On Hardball with Chris Matthews; GOP Responds

by Categorized: Media, Politics Date:

UPDATE:

Republican state Chairman Jerry Labriola Jr. issued a statement late Tuesday morning in response to this post, slamming Malloy for the remarks on Hardball.  As for Labriola’s charge that public policy is a distant third behind “media attention” and “hunger for high office,” Malloy couldn’t respond — he was scheduled to appear Tuesday afternoon at the Center for American Progress for a forum on gun violence.

“Governor Malloy’s appearance yesterday on ‘Hardball’ is more disgraceful proof that there is no issue – no matter how sensitive – that Malloy won’t politicize. Trapped between his unquenchable thirst for media attention and his insatiable hunger for high office, public policy finishes a distant third on the Governor’s priority list. Demonizing his opponents and rushing to beat his fellow Democrats on radical gun control measures are just two more ways for Malloy to advance his personal political ambition. Connecticut residents need more than “zingers” from their Governor. The fact is that the Governor’s tax, borrow and spend economic policies have failed Connecticut and no amount of distractions and no number of Washington forums and talk shows can change that unfortunate fact.”

ORIGINAL POST:

Chris Matthews brought out some of Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s best zingers on gun control late Monday, during an interview on MSNBC’s Hardball.  For Matthews, who shares Malloy’s disdain for Republicans in Congress trying to stop strict registration and assault weapons bans, it was more like ‘softball.’

And for Malloy, it was a colorful strut across the national stage, never bad for a governor with ambition.

On the NRA and other gun control opponents appealing directly to Republicans with their strategy: “These are real profiles in courage, aren’t they?”

On Republicans, including Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, having it out with Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., over a weapons ban on Thursday: “They have no shame…It plays well for his constituency and I think he might even believe some of this.”

On a Washington Post/ABC News poll that shows only a bare majority of 57 percent of Americans favoring an assault weapons ban: “There’s a lot of people in Texas, I guess.”

Phoenix Says It Will Not Meet Deadline for Restatements, Annual Report

by Categorized: Corporate finance, Insurance Date:

An already choppy recovery at The Phoenix Cos. has suffered a setback as the Hartford company said it will not file an annual report on time and will not meet the timetable it set last fall to restate financial statements from 2009 through the middle of 2012.

Phoenix said on Nov. 8 that it would finish the restatements prior to the deadline for its 2012 annual report, which normally would mean this month.  Late Friday, the company said it will have an update by April 30, but it did not promise a new date for the restatements or the annual report.

“We are making substantial progress in completing the restatement and closing the third and fourth quarters of 2012, but even with a significant level of dedicated resources, the scope and breadth of the work involved is much more time consuming than we originally anticipated,” said James D. Wehr, chief executive officer, in a written release.

HC JIM WEHR.jpg

Phoenix CEO James D. Wehr. Courant file photo

Shares of Phoenix were down 23 cents to $$28.72 in late morning trading on the New York Stock Exchange. Shares had drifted downward for most of 2012 from a high above $50 to $21.58 in late November, before stabilizing.

In its announcement Monday, Phoenix offered some financial updates.  Annuity deposits were $193.2 million for the fourth quarter of 2012 and $830 million for the full year. Annuity funds under management were $5 billion at the end of 2012, after net annuity flows (deposits less surrenders) of $62 million for the fourth quarter and $294.6 million for full year.

Phoenix Life Insurance Co., the main subsidiary, had $113 billion of coverage in place and a surplus and reserve of $922.5 million on Dec. 31, up from $846 million a year earlier.

The restatements at Phoenix are intended “to correct certain errors relating to the classification of items on the consolidated statement of cash flows in the prior periods,” the company said Monday.  The company said it “also has identified additional errors affecting prior periods,” but said it estimated the impact of corrections to shareholders’ equity as of June 30, 2012 would be less than 1 percent of the previously reported amount.

The 162-year-old life insurer suffered a massive stock collapse in late 2008 and early 2009, after multiple ratings downgrades and the loss of its main distribution partner, State Farm. Wehr took over as CEO from Dona Young in April of that year.

Last August, Phoenix executed a 1-for-20 reverse stock split.

The company has not yet scheduled an annual shareholders meeting for 2013. “Phoenix continues to assess its disclosure controls and procedures and internal control over financial reporting, and believes it has identified multiple material weaknesses,” the company said Monday.

 

Hospital Chiefs: Malloy Budget Would Mean Layoffs

by Categorized: Health Care, Jobs, Public finance Date:

Connecticut’s hospital chief executives have come out fighting against Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s proposed budget, warning of layoffs and other dire consequences if the state’s payments and reimbursements don’t keep up with added needs.

The hospital heads, in an open letter to lawmakers, said the Malloy budget over the next two years, starting July 1, would cut hospital spending by $550 million. The letter was signed by the CEOs of 25 of Connecticut’s 30 acute care hospitals. They linked to a web site that shows the cuts each hospital would sustain.

“People who work at hospitals will lose their jobs, and so will people in the community who rely on hospitals for their incomes.  Connecticut needs more jobs, not the gutting of a sector that employs more than 54,000 people and generates 110,000 jobs across the state,” the CEOs said in the letter, issued by the Connecticut Hospital Association.

Saint Francis Care CEO Christopher Dadlez at WNPR studios Friday. Chion Wolf Photo

Saint Francis Care CEO Christopher Dadlez at WNPR studios Friday. Chion Wolf Photo

Malloy’s budget, however, shows flat funding for hospitals, not a decline: $1.72 billion in the coming year and $1.77 billion in the following year, compared with $1.75 billion this year.  Most of the spending is Medicaid reimbursement, and the standoff is over how much it will need to increase to keep up with what hospitals now do for patients.

The proposed plan does reflect a decline in state reimbursement for care the hospitals give, free of charge, to people who don’t have medical insurance.  That’s because uncompensated care is expected to decline starting in 2014, as federal health care reforms require everyone to have coverage. The state, in fact, has already seen some savings as the state opened up Medicaid coverage to more people.

Broadly, hospital finances are a matter of hot debate, as critics — notably journalist Steven Brill, who documented what he called a skewed hospital payment system in a lengthy report in Time Magazine last month — say the institutions systematically overcharge some patients, and are profiting by gaining the upper hand in negotiations with insurers.  I was on WNPR’s “Where We Live” radio show Friday morning with Brill, host John Dankosky, state health care advocate Victoria Veltri and Christopher Dadlez, CEO of Saint Francis Care in Hartford.

Dadlez defended hospitals’ financial practices,  saying they are not running up excessive surpluses, and profits they do make are put back into community care. He said part of the issue is low reimbursement for Medicaid, the state and federal program for the poor, which he said would fall further under Malloy’s budget plan.

Dadlez warned of layoffs if Malloy’s cuts were to happen, in comments after the show, but he did not give estimates.

 

With Factory Precision, Colt’s Workers Bring A Message To Lawmakers

by Categorized: Jobs, Manufacturing, Politics Date:

You’d expect the 175-year-old gun manufacturer that invented mass production to pull off an orderly trip to the state Capitol and that’s exactly what Colt’s Manufacturing Co. did on Thursday, as 550 employees left a clear message, then returned to work.

“Save our jobs.”

They piled into ten full-size luxury buses, mostly from the Constitution Coach Co., making for an appropriately labeled convoy from the factory of Colt’s and sister company Colt Defense LLC on New Park Avenue, just over the West Hartford line.

Nancy Reder on the bus to the state Capitol. Patrick Raycraft/The Hartford Courant

Nancy Reder on the bus to the state Capitol. Patrick Raycraft/The Hartford Courant

It was an action of the company, not the United Auto Workers union that represents 489 people at the firearms plant.  The UAW, in fact, has been strangely silent on gun control at the state Capitol this year despite the threat to jobs.

Click here for photos of the event

Managers, top executives, union and nonunion staff, first-shifters on the company clock, second- and third-shift workers on their own time — they all traveled together for the 9-minute ride, were unified in chanting that slogan outside the Legislative Office Building, then stood vigil in neat lines on all five levels of the marble atrium, holding red-and-white placards as lawmakers convened yet another hearing on gun control.

“I feel I make a difference,” said Nancy Reder, a buyer of maintenance products and services who has worked at Colt and Colt’s for 35 years.  She was talking about both her job and her role in Thursday’s event.

Reder, wearing jeans and a Colt-embroidered denim jacket, was struck by the beauty of the state Capitol in the sunlight as employees marched past the south entrance, under the office windows of Gov. Dannel P. Malloy.

Malloy wants to ban the sale of AR-15 military style, semiautomatic rifles, one of the main products these workers make and sell.  Colt’s has been the largest factory contingent to make a stand before lawmakers, but on Monday, Stag Arms closed production in New Britain and brought dozens of workers, and employees of O.F. Mossberg & Sons in North Haven have also made the trip.

It’s not the same message delivered by the National Rifle Association and other gun-rights groups, which have brought thousands of people to the Capitol to drive home their points about personal freedom and the Second Amendment.

No, at Colt and Colt’s, the message is about the community — 670 jobs between the two companies at the West Hartford facility, an unknowable number of which would be threatened by an outright ban on AR-15 rifles proposed by Malloy and some Democratic legislators.

They were polite, they moved in and out of the building as one, and they were armed with written talking points: “We are your neighbors and we want a safer Connecticut too. A ban on our product will not make us safer. Keeping firearms out of the wrong hands will.”

Kevin Parkinson, a 14-year security employee at Colt Defense, had a deeper connection to the Newtown tragedy  than many, as his wife, Katrina Devona, grew up in that town and attended the Sandy hook Elementary School.

“It hit pretty hard,” Parkinson said, but he, like everyone on these buses, holds steadfastly to the belief that his work is not making the world more dangerous.

There is no wavering on that point, and it was hard to even find Colt employees who have had animated conversations with people who favor a ban on military-style rifles. “For the most part, my family and friends think the way I do,” said Deneen Silvers, a labor relations manager at Colt’s.  As for lawmakers on the other side of the issue, she said, “We think we can work together.”

One possible compromise is a full registration requirement, as already exists for handguns, for all firearms that have a pistol grip — or for all rifles.  Many of the Colt and Colt’s workers said that wouldn’t be so bad, if it would avert a ban on the AR-15 rifle that’s such a big part of their livelihoods.

Colt and Colt’s, which are separately, privately owned but operate under the same roof under joint agreements, have invested heavily in civilian versions of the AR-15 over the last five years, as sales of the military version, the M-4, have wound down. AR-15 sales in Connecticut are just a small part of revenues, of course, but the stakes of a ban are still perilously high for these workers.

“Let’s say it passes,” Colt’s CEO Dennis Veilleux said. “Our customers are going to try to apply pressure to us by not buying our product. They’re going to come right out and tell us, ‘Get out of Connecticut.”

“If we don’t stand up and fight,” Veilleux added, “they won’t buy our product, in fact they’ll boycott it.”

That’s partly why the company does not officially favor any compromise measures, It’s too bad, but it’s political reality.

Likewise, it’s possible that UAW Region 9A and Local 376 are silent because at the national level, the union is loyal to President Obama, who bailed out the automakers and fought hard to save union jobs.  No one at UAW is talking, at any level, even to return my calls and issue a “no comment.”

The regional and local UAW leaders issued a memo to members Wednesday, saying its workers “have a proud tradition of producing the finest forearms in the world…We are committed to keeping our communities safe and strong.”

The memo had no word one way or another about the legislation.

Mike Holmes, the shop chairman at Colt and Colt’s, was one of many employees who remembered a similar day 20 years ago, when hundreds of Colt’s employees filed into the Capitol complex at a time when lawmakers were considering a similar ban on so-called assault weapons. Then-Lt. Gov Eunice Groark broke an 18-18 tie in the Senate, and the 1993 beat a national ban by one year.

“We filled the chambers,” Holmes recalled.

That law, still in effect in Connecticut, leaves room for sale of modified versions of the AR-15, including the one used by the killer in Newtown, which was made by a different company, Bushmaster.

This time, a ban could have no such wiggle room.  Stricter background check measures and full licensing requirements for rifles with pistol grips might make sense and would keep Connecticut in the vanguard of gun control legislation.

But bans on equipment make less sense, and no sense at all for individual states to pass. An estimated 8 million military-style rifles are in circulation in the United States and they do not respect state lines.

In late morning, after the bus ride back, all the workers from all the shifts piled back into the 300,000-square-foot complex, with the blue, beveled roofs that identify large factories. The company served lunch for everyone. “They earned it,” Veilleux said as he shook hands and thanked workers, many by first name. “I was going to have it outside but it’s too cold.”

Nancy Reder mused that work is piling up on her desk, and she was eager to jump back into it. “I feel lucky to have the job,” she said. “I don’t take it for granted.”