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All aboard candidates: The Malloy pork train is pulling out

By David Collins

Publication: The Day

Published September 28. 2012 4:00AM

A Thursday press release from Gov. Malloy, announcing a $3.5 million state loan to the Montville-based Thomas G. Faria Corp., for an expansion that could create 85 new jobs, mentioned no fewer than four Democratic state legislators.

"This state loan will help the company underwrite increased production capability - for which the company will add 85 jobs - and meet its ambitious diversification goals," state Sen. Andrea Stillman of Waterford, a candidate for re-election, was quoted in the press release.

The press release, with similar quotes from other Democratic lawmakers, went on to say that Faria Corp. has been working with the governor and the local General Assembly delegation since last year.

But the good news was announced on a timetable to make sure that voters don't forget in November that Democrats are busy creating new manufacturing jobs.

The best example, though, of politicking by state grant came earlier this week, when the governor announced by press release that the state has agreed to spend $276,000 on creating new open space in Sprague and Franklin.

The featured Democratic candidate in the open space press release is none other than Sprague First Selectwoman Cathy Osten, who is in a contentious race with Republican state Rep. Chris Coutu to fill retiring Sen. Edith Prague's 19th District seat.

The Osten-Coutu race is shaping up as a referendum on Malloy policies, with Coutu suggesting that Osten would go to Hartford to become a rubber stamp for the governor and his big-spending agenda.

Osten got to be center stage in the press release about the Malloy administration helping preserve open space in her town.

"The Town of Sprague is ecstatic that we have been able to work together with the governor and the attorney general on this important piece of land preservation," Osten gushed in the press release from the governor's office.

"We are very appreciative of the support of both the governor's office and attorney general's office . . . "

I was curious to ask Osten more about the timing of the announcement, but she didn't respond to a message I left Thursday on her cellphone.

The governor's office noted, when I asked, that the Sprague land deal has been in the works since the administration of Gov. Jodi Rell.

The final pieces came together with a vote this week by the Sprague Board of Selectmen and agreements by the Sprague Rod and Gun Club and Friends of the Shetucket River Valley to come up with the $18,000 in matching money for the state grant.

The 230-acre property was appraised at $517,000 to $551,000 in 2010. As part of the terms of the deal, the owners, heirs to the property, will retain use of a house on the land.

The property owners will use the $294,000 in state and local purchase funds toward paying off a $420,000 state lien on the land, which relates to a family member's nursing home care. The rest of the state lien will be forgiven as part of the acquisition, state officials said.

The Sprague land purchase seems like a good move for the state, leveraging hundreds more acres of open space near the Shetucket River.

It is also another step toward the state's worthy goal of preserving as open space 21 percent of its land, some 673,210 acres, by the year 2023. The state is at about 73 percent of that goal, with 494,000 acres preserved.

I am also cheered by the Faria announcement.

The loan - $3.5 million at 2 percent for 10 years - does seem like a good investment in supporting a longtime Connecticut manufacturer and helping to create new jobs here in eastern Connecticut.

But I am amused to the see the local Democrats get to claim credit for all this laudable state spending, less than six weeks away from Election Day.

I guess when you control all the levers of power in election season, you have to be sure and pull them.

This is the opinion of David Collins.

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