Category Archives: Politics

Democrats Using Gun Control As A Weapon

by Categorized: Firearms, Politics Date:

It’s clear that Connecticut’s post-Newtown gun control law will play a loud role in the legislative campaigns and we expect Second Amendment advocates to attack supporters. But Democrats are also using the issue as a weapon against anyone who hints at opposition.

That leaves Republicans who voted for it — most prominently Sen. John McKinney, the candidate for Governor who helped negotiate the law — caught in the middle if they make one false move, or even if they don’t.  And it leaves Democrats who voted against the law, including Rep. Linda Orange, facing a battle from the left.

The state’s Democratic Party issued a breathless release Wednesday morning, titled “SHOCKER: John McKinney Says He Would Repeal The Gun Control Bill ‘SB 1160.’”

It looked big. But that’s not what McKinney said.  The Democrats, who attend and record many events of McKinney and other GOP candidates for governor, issued a YouTube Video and a transcript showing McKinney answering a question at a meeting of the Quiet Corner Tea Party Patriots in Putnam.

QUESTION: …if Republicans took over the General Assemblyand if they put forward a repeal of SB 1160if you were elected governor, would you sign that?

MCKINNEY: If the legislature repeals something, I think the governor owes a great deference to what the legislature does, and I would.

McKinney spent two hours with the group of about 30, all of them opposed to the gun control law, he recounted to me Wednesday.  He explained to the group that he continues to support the law, though it contains some measures he would not have added.

Continue reading

Bill Would Require Labor Breakdown For Companies Receiving Big State Aid

by Categorized: Economic Development, Government, Labor, Politics, Public finance Date:

State taxpayers want to get their money’s worth when they give a company a huge aid package, and to that end, many lawmakers want to add a new hurdle.

Any firm that gets at least $10 million in state assistance would have to file a report showing how it intends to favor Connecticut-based contractors for any construction work covered by the aid, under a bill that advanced Thursday in the legislature.

The firms would also have to report on the names of construction contractors, the total number of full-time construction employees on the site and the wages paid, and the total number of construction workers on the project who live in Connecticut.

“We want to see more Connecticut construction jobs as a result of these state investments,” said state Sen. Gary D. LeBeau, co-chairman of the legislature’s Commerce Committee, which advanced the bill to the Senate floor in a 12-5 vote.

The bill is part of a long debate over how much the state should demand of the companies it backs with economic development aid. Unions support the bill and the Connecticut Business and Industry Association opposes it, saying it’s onerous.

Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s development commissioner, Catherine H. Smith, told lawmakers she’s concerned the bill “may dissuade some larger companies from considering the state.

The administration’s caution is probably wise. Promoting local jobs is great but we wouldn’t want other states to shut out Connecticut-based construction workers. And when it comes to new business regulations, Connecticut is on the watch list — so we should pass up even some decent ideas, for the greater good.

WWE’s McMahon Takes Big Pay Cut — But Powerslams An Extra $1 Billion

by Categorized: Entertainment/Tourism, Politics, Wall Street, Wealth Date:

Vince McMahon’s pay at World Wrestling Entertainment Inc. fell by 30 percent last year to $1.7 million, a $732,000 decline. But the Stamford company’s CEO is hardly taking a face plant on the mat.

Oh yes, he happens to own 52 percent of WWE and his wife, former company CEO and professional political candidate Linda McMahon, holds another 12 percent share. Together, they saw the value of their stock rise by $419 million in 2013 alone.

Vince McMahon, second from left, and Linda McMahon, pose with family members in 2012.  Cloe Poisson/The Hartford Courant

Vince McMahon, second from left, and Linda McMahon, pose with family members in 2012.
Cloe Poisson/The Hartford Courant

Take that!

And since January 1, WWE shares are up another 88 percent, closing at $31.14 Wednesday on the New york Stock Exchange.  So the McMahons’ headlock on Wall Street has yielded another $700 million — not bad for less than three months of work.

If you’re counting, that’s $1.1 billion in added value since the start of 2012. No wonder Forbes named McMahon a billionaire for the first time earlier this month.

The company’s dramatic stock run-up in 2014 could be the result of an upcoming TV deal or a live streaming site. But it’s also most likely related to speculation of a buyout — especially since the McMahons, well into their 60s, own more than two-thirds of the company along with a daughter.

Vince McMahon with WWE's Triple H in Las Vegas in 2009. Getty Images

Vince McMahon with WWE’s Triple H in Las Vegas in 2009.
Getty Images

Bloomberg this week reported on the speculation, saying likely buyers would be giant media firms especially Comcast, already a distribution partner, or Disney, or perhaps The Madison Square Garden Co., controlled by Cablevision’s Dolan family.

The Motley Fool speculated on a sale to AMC Networks, another Cablevision spinoff that could become the wrestling juggernaut’s new TV home. But no one has reported any talks, and no one can predict what the McMahons will do — in the ring, on the air or in the boardroom.

We might learn more at the company’s April 25 annual meeting at its headquarters in Stamford, announced Wednesday. But don’t count on it. Even though investors own a third of the company, the McMahons control virtually all of the voting rights — so their hold on the firm is tighter than John Cena’s iron grip.

Ted Kennedy Jr. Joins Board of Health Consultancy

by Categorized: Health Care, Politics Date:

Ted Kennedy Jr. is bringing his name and health care expertise to a consulting firm that works with hospitals and other service providers looking to boost efficiency and improve patient care.

Ted Kennedy Jr. Press Ganey handout

Ted Kennedy Jr.
Press Ganey handout

The 52-year-old Branford resident, a lawyer and health care advocate, has joined the board of Press Ganey, which is based in South Bend, Indiana but has a significant office in Boston.

Kennedy, who holds degrees from Wesleyan University, Yale and UConn, is active in the Connecticut Bar Association’s health care section and has long experience in hospital and other health regulation.

“As a champion for the health care needs of the disabled and an advocate for the Affordable Care Act, Ted understands the important role of the patient experience, particularly during this pivotal time in our country’s health care system,” said Patrick T. Ryan, the Press Ganey CEO, who lives in Massachusetts and is on the board of Avon Old Farms school.

Kennedy, a registered voter in Branford, kicked around the idea of running for U.S. Senate in Massachusetts in 2013 after former John Kerry was tapped to be Secretary of State.

The Boston Globe in December 2012 cited sources who said Kennedy considered himself a Connecticut resident although he has a home in Hyannis, Mass. — and that he might want to run for office in Connecticut someday.

Why Connecticut Republicans Should Have Cheered For Obama Wednesday

by Categorized: Politics, Poverty Date:

We did not see many Connecticut Republicans at President Obama’s New Britain rally on Wednesday, and while that’s an obvious political reality, it represents a lost opportunity for the state.

Connecticut, with a minimum wage that’s already $1.45 an hour higher than the nation’s and going up to at least $1.75 higher in January if Congress doesn’t act, could only be helped by a national increase in the wage. That’s because the state could suffer as an outlier with higher costs, even though we’ve rightly made the decision to raise the minimum above national standards.

So why aren’t Republicans lining up behind Obama’s call for a sharp increase in the lowest pay for all workers? It is, after all, the GOP that argues a higher minimum wage gives a city or state a competitive disadvantage if other states have a lower wage.

In San Jose, Calif., for example, which raised its wage to $10 an hour one year ago while its neighbors remained at $8, the conservative Employment Policies Institute reported harsh effects including at least 12 businesses closing.

The reason we don’t see any bipartisan local support, despite the logic of it, reveals a lot about the debate that reached a shrill peak in New Britain with Obama’s speech. Unlike, say, abortion or gun control, arguments about wages are especially messy because it’s not just values in play but an impossibly complicated set of actions and reactions in the economy.

New Britain Mayor Erin Stewart's selfie. She was one of the few Republicans in the gym.  Credit: Twitter @stewartfornb

New Britain Mayor Erin Stewart’s selfie. She was one of the few Republicans in the gym.
Credit: Twitter @stewartfornb

Obama, true to form, used his soaring moral rhetoric: “Nobody who works full-time should ever have to raise a family in poverty!”

But it’s not just a moral and economic issue — it’s political. And Obama needs New England as the rabbit in this race. Famously a guy who keeps his eye on the ball, the president wants that national increase and he knows he can’t get it without help from the states. He knows the Republican-led Congress will not boost the $7.25 an hour wage unless a lot of states lead the way, and that’s why Gov. Dannel P. Malloy is his new best friend.

Obama said so clearly, calling the four New England governors sitting behind him on the podium a “supergroup,” quipping that they’d be dubbed the “New England Patriots” if that name weren’t taken. “I need your help,” the president said to the crowd at the close of the speech.

So, Democrats at the state level are part of the national strategy even as they worry about what’s happening inside their borders.

Republicans who oppose an increase say the wage is a poor tool for addressing poverty because employers reduce hiring and most people who earn the minimum wage don’t live in poverty.

“I don’t disagree that the minimum wage should be set at a reasonable rate,” state Republican Chairman Jerry Labriola said in a written release, “but what President Obama and Governor Malloy won’t tell you is that the CBO has projected that their proposal will result in a half million net job losses, and that’s a big concern.”

He was referring to the Congressional Budget Office, which last month estimated that a $10.10 minimum wage, the Democrats’ goal, would cost 500,000 jobs by 2016.

Democrats, backed by a petition of 600 economists, say the latest economic thinking shows that an increase might not cost any jobs at all. They say that despite urban myths to the contrary, less than 15 percent of minimum wage earners are teenagers. And of course, they point out that minimum wage earners spend all their money, boosting the economy efficiently.

“You get a virtuous cycle,” Obama declared Wednesday. “It’s common sense, that’s what I say.”

News reporters can and do find emotional examples of noble, low-wage workers who can’t build a life. The argument is made all the more compelling by the obvious fact that taxpayers are supporting those families.

The deeper problem with pay is that we as a nation have drunk the corporate Kool-Aid that work is about building business profits at all cost, not about sustaining families. The crisis is, at its core, a private-sector issue that state and federal governments can only affect in a blunt way, as more money goes to fewer people. Obama acknowledged that, too.

So Connecticut will do a favor for Obama and the nation by continuing to push ahead on the state wage. We can debate the value of that forever.

But as for the national wage, it hasn’t gone up since 2007 and is falling so far below the cost of living that a modest increase to, say, $8.50 would just bring us back to the zero point.  It needs to be enacted and the Republicans are just dead wrong to oppose it outright.

In fact it should be pegged to inflation so we don’t have to endure this idiotic charade every three years.

Still, Connecticut Republicans believe they can’t push for a national increase and fight a state increase, and that’s why we did not see them at Central Connecticut State University today — except for New Britain Mayor Erin Stewart, who got to meet Obama (“He has very soft hands!”).

Stewart, one of the nation’s youngest mayors at 26, Tweeted a selfie of herself with Obama in the photo. she said she sees both sides of the debate and has no position on an increase — adding that she “got a lot of grief” from anonymous Republicans on Twitter and some blogs for joining the rally Wednesday.

It’s too bad we didn’t put up a united front on the national wage. We could probably have cajoled Obama to drop a $1 billion check for that New Haven-to-Springfield rail line.

Plan To Charge Stores For Paying Low Wages: Flawed But Has Merit

by Categorized: Economy, Jobs, Labor, Politics, Poverty, Retail Date:

Connecticut is already one of the three states with the highest minimum wages and it’s the only one with mandatory paid sick days. Now advocates for the working poor are pushing for a novel plan to address the crisis of below-poverty wages: Penalize employers that pay too little.

The controversial plan isn’t in effect in any state and was narrowly defeated in Washington D.C., where Wal-Mart threatened to pull out. The idea is to extract money from low-paying retailers and fast-food companies to help the state compensate for the income supports that low-wage workers receive.

Fair is fair, the logic goes. Why should taxpayers subsidize Wal-Mart, McDonald’s and Dunkin’ Donuts?

Tina Conners, a McDonald's employee in Manchester who lives in her car. Dan Haar/The Hartford Courant

Tina Conners, a McDonald’s employee in Manchester who lives in her car.
Dan Haar/The Hartford Courant

Care to get upset? A recent report by the Connecticut Association for Human Services showed that a family of four with two adults working a total of 60 hours a week at $10 an hour would be eligible for $29,147 a year in public assistance — much of it Medicaid. And that wouldn’t even include the earned income tax credit, which would push the total higher.

That means you the taxpayer are subsidizing you the shopper to the tune of thousands of dollars for every low-wage sales employee. Still feel good about those 12-packs of socks for $6?

Under the Connecticut version of the wage penalty bill, which had a hearing Tuesday before the legislature’s labor committee, any company with at least 500 employees in the state would have to pay $1 per hour per affected worker into state coffers if it paid less than the “standard wage” for its lowest job classification. For a minimum wage worker in fast food, for example, the standard wage is $11.31 an hour — 130 percent of the $8.70 minimum.

The idea has big problems, illustrated in the story of Tina Conners, who’s from Manchester and told lawmakers and Gov. Dannel P. Malloy Tuesday, in a meeting in his office, that she lives in her car.  Conners, 21, works between 10 hours and 20 hours a week  at a local McDonald’s. She’d like to have more hours but can’t get them.

Conners was at the Capitol to push for the low-wage penalty and a higher minimum wage, which Malloy wants. But what she needs more than a slightly higher wage is many more hours. She told me she’d prefer to log 20 to 30 hours a week, leaving her time and money to go to college and eventually, a career as a dentist.

The $1 an hour penalty wouldn’t come close to paying for the public subsidies that we the taxpayers have to shell out for low-wage workers, but it would be a start. And it wouldn’t help Tina Conners add hours to her workweek; if anything, it could lead to fewer hours.

Another problem: Franchisers such as McD’s and Subway are not the employers. No worry, advocates say. Franchisers would be liable even if they didn’t own the stores in question.

Bills like this come up precisely because low-wage employers are abusing the public trust. We as greedy, shortsighted consumers are the ones letting them do it — all the worse in the case of the poison we’re buying and ingesting from the fast food industry.

And so the bill is politically brilliant if only for the point it makes: The fines would not go to the workers, in effect an enforced wage; rather, the money would go back to the taxpayers.  “Politically, it’s a no-brainer. It’s a home run,” said Tom Swan, executive director of the Connecticut Citizen Action Group and a leader of the effort. “Morally, it’s the right thing to do.”

It’s not a home run for the Connecticut Retail Merchants Association and the Connecticut Business and Industry Association, who argue that the bill would raise costs in the state and drive out retailers that pay property taxes and offer opportunity to workers. “Our employers do the best job they can,” said Tim Phelan, president of the retail merchants group.

Well, no, they don’t. He can say that about his small retail members that are just getting by, but not about the big national chains and franchises that are transferring billions of dollars from taxpayers to shareholders by shortchanging workers. McDonald’s employees alone receive $1.2 billion a year in public assistance, an October, 2013 report by the National Employment Law Project showed.

Phelan and CBIA advance the idea that low-wage jobs are entry level. “They provide the learning experience,” said Eric Gjede, assistant counsel at CBIA, the state’s largest business group.

Certainly any specific worker can get ahead, but by definition the system will screw most people, simply because the wage structure at many big retailers is so bottom-heavy.

Both sides flash numbers showing why states should, or should not, force employers to pay higher wages or penalize those that don’t.  But ultimately, the states are just bystanders in a private-sector pay system that creates opportunity for a few and poverty for the many, to the benefit of us the consumers.

Maybe we should try the penalty. Flawed as it is, nothing else is working.

A College Athletes Players Union? Like The Min-Wage Fight, It’s The Result Of Abuse

by Categorized: Economy, Education, Labor, Politics Date:

As it happened on Tuesday, the same day that President Obama proposed the largest minimum wage increase in history, football players at Northwestern University petitioned federal labor officials for the right to form a union.

The College Athletes Players Association, with Northwestern’s co-captain and standout quarterback Kain Colter as its face, submitted registration cards to the Chicago office of the National Labor Relations Board.

It’s a bad idea but it’s about time this happened.

There will be many steps and many battles before the players gain collective bargaining rights. The NCAA is saying they’re not employees so they have no right to organize.

The would-be union, headed by a former UCLA player and represented by the United Steelworkers, says it’s not looking for big money, or any money at all, other than the basic, low pay that most people agree players should receive.

Rather, the union’s demands include “financial coverage for sports-related medical expenses, placing independent concussion experts on the sidelines during games, establishing an educational trusts fund to help former players graduate and ‘due process’ before a coach could strip a player of his scholarship for a rules violation,” according to the Chicago Tribune.

This has been brewing for decades, as big-time college football and basketball programs reap billions, larding up coaches’ salaries and university coffers. Players do get an education and a 4-year tryout for the NFL or NBA but that still leaves plenty of room for abuse, especially for the non-stars.

This will be a great fight, just as the national battle unfolds over Obama’s push for a $10.10 an hour minimum wage, up from $7.25 an hour.  And they are linked, in that both are developments that would not happen in an ideal world, but have merit simply because the abuse has gone too far.

The whole point of a minimum wage is to set a floor that gradually rises, below which workers can’t get by without some form of outside help. Raising it radically might be jarring to the economy, but it hasn’t changed in five years and it was historically low even in 2009.

Likewise, NCAA athletes in big-time programs such as the Big 10 have seen everyone else get rich while they sacrifice not only every hour of free time, but their health.

Colter, a great natural leader, was among the players who wore the letters APU on their wristbands — for All Players United — in a Sept. 21 home game.  That week, he told reporters the movement was not players vs. Northwestern, but teammates exerting their rights. “It’s players coming together for a better cause,” he said in a video posted by the Northwester News Network, run by students.

In a written statement, the NCAA said “This union-backed attempt to turn student-athletes into employees undermines the purpose of college: an education….We are confident the National Labor Relations Board will find in our favor, as there is no right to organize student-athletes.”

In the old system, boosters illegally snuck envelopes of cash into athletes’ hands and while that was corrupt and insidious, it took care of a few problems. Now we need a modern system to take care of players, just as the minimum wage needs to be indexed to inflation once and for all, so we don’t have to go through this charade of a debate every three years.

Instead of modernizing, Congress and the NCAA screw around doing nothing, so we get a president fighting for a 40 percent hike in the minimum wage and a college players union petition.

Flawed ideas whose time has come. Enough is enough.


reSET, Malloy ‘Walk The Walk’ To State Capitol

by Categorized: Commerce, law, Politics Date:

 It was a fruitful year for the Social Enterprise Trust in 2013, as the group based in Hartford known as reSET opened its community incubator space at 99 Pratt Street, graduated two accelerator classes for startup entrepreneurs and worked with more than 60 groups to advance the cause of business with an explicit social benefit.

But reSET’s main legislative hope, a bill that would allow for “Type-B” benefit corporations,failed for the second straight year as time ran out for a vote in the state Senate last spring. 

Now the good news for reSET is that the bill, which would make it easy for companies to incorporate for a purpose other than only profit for owners, is on the fast track this year and seems like a lock to pass. 

Onyeka Obiocha, left, and Vishal Patel of A Happy Life, a social enterprise coffee company in Hartford. Dan Haar/The Hartford Courant

Onyeka Obiocha, left, and Vishal Patel of A Happy Life, a social enterprise coffee company in Hartford.
Dan Haar/The Hartford Courant

Gov. Dannel P. Malloy showed up at reSET’s Pratt Street office Tuesday to deliver his support, calling the bill a jobs measure – as social enterprise start-ups gain inspiration under the Type-B flag.  If that’s not enough, the legislature’s top Democrats issued their jobs agenda for 2014 on Tuesday and the Type-B bill is high on the list of priorities.

Under the proposal, companies that incorporate at Type-B would be subject to traditional corporate laws but would also be allowed to provide a stated public benefit as part of their charter. And they would be held accountable for that, in required annual “benefit reports.”

Malloy, at reSET, wondered why a company “making 90 bags of coffee a day” must have a team of lawyers to draw up its incorporation papers if it wanted to form as a social enterprise. He was referring to A Happy Life, whose founder, Vishal Patel, and chief operating officer Onyeka Obiocha, had just explained their plan to the governor.

The partners, who met at the reSET offices last summer, operate at the incubator offices there. They buy raw coffee that has been bought under Fair Trade standards, and roast and package it in Wallingford, with the goal of not only supporting Fair Trade, but, Patel explained, “using profits to develop solutions or holistic approaches to eradicating poverty in coffee-growing communities in underserved countries.

The market is, of course, heavy with boutique coffee roasting firms hoping to improve conditions where subsistence farmers grow the beans, charging somewhat higher prices — $10.99 for a 12-ounce bag in the case fo A Happy Life.  “We’re not justa coffee company. We’re a lifestyle company,” Patel said, with daily online anecdotes, pictures and videos about being happy in life.

“We think we can take Fair Trade to the next level,” said Patel, who works full-time as a research assistant at the Hospital for Special Care, but expects to move full-time to the start-up firm.

After Malloy’s announcement, folks from reSET walked a half-mile in a steady rain to the state Legislative Office Building, where the commerce committee held an informational forum on the bill.

And so, two years ago reSET was on the outside looking in, opposed by the state bar association on technical language in the bill. Last year the group was in the mix with its bill, out of luck when the clock ran out. This year reSET arrives at the Capitol as full-fledged insiders.


Malloy Is Close But Not Correct On State Payroll

by Categorized: Economy, Politics Date:

Connecticut is at or near the top of the pack when it comes to many measures of state budget costs including debt payments and pension liabilities. That’s why a lot of people were surprised when Gov. Dannel P. Malloy told an audience the state has “fewer people working in government per capita than any other state in the nation now.”

I was aware that Malloy had shrunk the state payroll but I figured we still had a hefty head count in the bureaucracy. Where did that fact come from? After his speech at the Middlesex County Chamber of Commerce breakfast in Cromwell Tuesday, Malloy corrected himself, partly. He said the figure is really “on a GDP basis,” meaning we have the smallest number of government workers when compared with the size of the entire state economy.

That’s different than what he said, and it’s still not correct. Turns out Malloy’s figures were from a New York Times chart published Sept. 27, which shows how Connecticut ranks in the following measures:

  • Government workers (federal, state and local) as a percentage of all employees: 14.3, No. 43
  • Percent change in number of government workers, 1/09 to 8/13:  minus 5.9, No. 45 (6th largest decline)
  • Total value of government activity as a percentage of total state economic output: 9.2, No. 50
  • Percent change in total value of government activity: minus 2.6, No. 42 (9th largest decline)

There’s no measure of total government payroll as a percent of state population, though the first bullet point above would be close to that, and there’s no measure of payroll as a percent of the state’s economic output.

Malloy’s point is that Connecticut has a small government workforce by many measures, and has shrunk more than most states since the recession. In fact, Connecticut might have an even smaller government presence than the Times chart shows, if these figures include the native American casinos, which count as government jobs in federal statistics because they are run by sovereign nations.

We might even be No. 50, but Malloy has no source for that claim.

As his unannounced 2014 re-election campaign gets underway, Malloy has a strong narrative about the economy and as anyone who knows him will tell you, he’s not apologizing for anything. Jobs and unemployment are not where they need to be but they’re heading in the right direction, and Malloy claims that the massive state spending on business assistance, on borrowed money, has helped.

As for shrinking government, the permanent, full-time state payroll under the executive branch (not including judicial and college employees) fell from 29,148 in Jan. 2011, when Malloy took office, to 27,882 in May of this year, Malloy’s office reported. That’s a decline of more than 1,200 people or 4.3 percent.

That’s a hefty cut considering that state employee unions worked hard to elect Malloy in 2010, and he needs them next year.

But Malloy does himself no favors when he throws out facts and figures that are incorrect, even when his overall point is right.

This is especially true considering the Republicans are dogging him on this very point.  Late Tuesday, GOP activists Chris Healy, the former state party chief, and Suzan Bibisi posted an item on the Make Blue Red blog, slamming Malloy for delivering a string of “contrived factoids.”

“In Malloy-world, there are the facts and his facts,” the GOP bloggers wrote.  They cited job creation claims and state deficit claims, though not with any depth.

The economy will probably muddle along well enough that it’s not a Malloy-killer next November, and his government-shrinking creds will help him with skeptical, unaffiliated voters.  The cuts have been real.

“In areas that we deal with, the state is much leaner,” said Larry McHugh, the UConn board chairman under Malloy and longtime head of the Middlesex Chamber of Commerce. Maybe not lean compared with some companies that have pared way back, he added, but leaner than it was.

The main point of the New York Times chart, by master economics and finance writer Floyd Norris, was that the states that voted for Obama in 2012 tended to be the ones with the smallest and fastest-shrinking government work forces, and the Romney states were the opposite.

Malloy can use that irony to his advantage if he resists the urge to lob incorrect statistics, which hand the GOP an easy smash.

Malloy’s Message On Newtown: The Same But Different

by Categorized: Politics Date:

While elected officials all over Connecticut and the world weigh in this week with messages of humanity a year after Newtown, one voice should rightly stand out.

On Tuesday morning, before a friendly crowd at the Middlesex Chamber of Commerce’s annual breakfast, Gov. Dannel P. Malloy offered a message not much different from what others have said, and will say.

“The horror is what we concentrate on. The goodness is what I ask everyone to remember this Saturday,” Malloy said. “I ask that you do an act of kindness or a way of remembering what happened that day.”

That echoed the aims of the weeklong “Acts of Kindness” program launched Monday by U.S. Rep. Elizabeth Esty, U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal and members of the Newtown Foundation, the Newtown Action Alliance and the United Way.

But hearing it from Malloy was different for the 500-plus in the audience. After seeing the bodies and informing the parents of the 20 murdered children that their first-graders would not come home, Malloy has been by most accounts deeply changed: more urgent about getting things done, especially gun control, and more emotional.

The “goodness” he referred to included, he said, “that teacher and that psychologist who ran down the hallway” at the Sandy Hook Elementary School, as well as first responders and the state troopers assigned to remain with the victims’ families in those terrible early days.

Malloy asked the audience to “understand how good God has been to all of us,” at the end of what was basically a pre-campaign speech on the economy, energy and education.

“We have truly been blessed, blessed to have been born in this country, blessed to live in the state of Connecticut and blessed to have the person who sits next to you as a fellow citizen.”