Don't forget: You live in Connecticut not New York

ryan-and-fisher-300x180Every other week, John J. Ryan, a former Republican state representative, and Joshua Fisher, a longtime Hersam Acorn Newspapers editor, share their back-and-forth about news going on around the state, among other items of interest. 

Fisher: It’s Super Bowl Hype Week. What’s more likely: Someone who wants to sit in a frigid New Jersey stadium Sunday to watch a game that is more fun to see on TV or finding someone in Fairfield County who cares about what’s happening in Connecticut state government?

Ryan: Imagine (no, I’m not going to start humming the John Lennon tune) if our taxpayers devoted even 1% of their focus on state issues, as was spent on Super Bowl bloviating this past week.

Do 1% of the voters even know that this year’s legislative session starts in less than a week?

Fisher: They do if they have been reading this column over the years.

Ryan: They would be aware that they can follow all of the doings of every legislator, every bill, every committee and every vote taken by starting with the General Assembly’s website at

Fisher: And if you check out the news items we link in every column, you’ll know that this is a legislative “short session,” which is held in state election years. This November, every official, executive or legislative office at the State Capitol in Hartford is on the ballot.

Ryan: Voters might want to pay attention to how their elected officials actually spend their tax dollars. Check out news items such as “Wrong Information Printed on 27,000 Tax Forms” (, Jan. 27), “Burrito shop owner who got $150,000 in state aid had $728,000 in debt” (, Jan. 24), and “Amistad’s state money spigot is still wide open” (, Jan. 26).

Fisher: Unfortunately, so many of our readers believe we live in Metro New York, not the State of Connecticut, so they pay little attention to our state’s economy or fiscal problems, such as “Weak Connecticut Job Growth” (, Jan. 26), or “Foreclosure crisis slow to end in state, experts say” (, Jan. 26).

Ryan: Readers also commonly believe that the vast sums of tax dollars sent by lower Fairfield County to Hartford come back to their communities; but note, for example, “State denies Sandy aid to coastal homes” (, Jan. 27).

Or turn your town’s property tax bill over some time and look at the notice “Statement of State Aid” and see if you can guess what percentage of the tax dollars that go to our capital actually come back.

Fisher: Such negativity! I know you are just a cynical former state legislator who doesn’t like positive stories about our state. I heard that Connecticut and the Malloy administration has a big surplus coming up.

Ryan: That’s a topic that always leads to entertaining reading. This might intrigue you: “Don’t be Fooled by Surplus Smoke and Mirrors” (, Jan. 24). And who could be more unapologetically blunt than Chris Powell as in “Surplus is just politics; and the futility of DCF” from (Jan 26,

Fisher: As always, we have not scratched the surface on the issues and information that you could be aware of. As Sy Syms used to say, “An educated consumer is our best customer.”

John J. Ryan is of counsel to the Fairfield County law firm Russo & Assoc., and served 14 years as Darien and Rowayton’s state representative — and has been writing this column for Hersam Acorn even longer. Joshua Fisher, has been an editor with Hersam Acorn Newspapers since 2003.

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