The Connecticut State Police mess will be the first truly interesting test of Gov. M. Jodi Rell's leadership, but it first needs to be said that this is the kind of result you get when nobody governs at all. The Rowland years were, for obvious reasons, not a time of great accountability, and Rell has not proven, so far, to be the kind of stickler for probity that she claimed to be. She lost a lot of ground with me when she installed a special counsel on ethics (Rachel Rubin) in her own office and then allowed her horrifically spoiled child, chief of staff M. Lisa Moody, the Dudley Dursley of Connecticut government, to break the rules, taunt the ethics counsel and even demand improper election tribute from Rubin (in the famous "Pony up, czarina!" inscription on a fund-raiser invitation).
A governor who cannot rein in Moody will probably not be able to rein in her state police, and Rell's first step was unpromising. Confronted with a 168-page report by an outside police department detailing 19 improperly handled internal affairs cases and recommending 60 reforms of the system, Rell's first move was to ask for the formation of a second panel to oversee reform. The panel is to be appointed by Public Safety Commissioner Leonard C. Boyle.
This is wrong in many ways. I have never heard a bad word said about Boyle and his are sterling credentials. He is exactly the kind of person you would ask to be a one-man task force overseeing reform of somebody else's department. Alas, this is his department, and he is mentioned in the scathing report. Any reform process will at least have to entertain the notion that he was one of the problems, so this must be taken away from him entirely.
Anyway, we are getting ahead of ourselves. We apparently have dirty cops. We have cops who have committed crimes and cops who have covered up or refused to investigate those crimes. So the first thing Rell needs to do is ask Chief State's Attorney Kevin Kane if the New York State Police have provided him with enough information to seek indictments of all suspected wrongdoers. If not, she should push immediately for a one-man grand jury to further investigate. I mean, the first job is to round up the guys who are wrong.
Then, rather than a panel answerable to Boyle, I would urge her to appoint Lt. Gov. Kevin Sullivan as a one-man task force to implement the New York recommendations. Sullivan, more than anyone, saw this coming and made a lot of noise about it. He's a few weeks away from unemployment. He's no pawn of Rell, God knows. Who could be a more credible reformer?
This situation doesn't need to studied more. It needs to be fixed. Right away.
Oh, and Moody should not be allowed to talk to any of the people involved in the reform effort. She has already embarrassed the governor's office once when it was time to make the waters run clean. Rell needs to do this on her own.