GOLDRICK: Why Arora Is Unfit to Serve as State Rep

Letter to the editor from Sean Goldrick, served two terms as a Democratic member of the Greenwich Board of Estimate and Taxation.

It’s bad enough that Republican state representative candidate Harry Arora insulted the venerable League of Women Voters by demanding that the scrupulously nonpartisan organization not permit a registered Democrat to moderate its debate.  His dubious corporate affiliations, and lack of knowledge about the state’s economy and fiscal basics are nearly as shocking.

Arora claims that his private sector experience qualifies him to manage the state’s budget.  Yet that experience includes years with Enron Corporation, a corporate ponzi scheme that collapsed in one of the nation’s biggest bankruptcies.

Indeed, Arora was a top Enron employee, a designated “Top Hat,” and as such he and other Top Hats were awarded more than $53 million in accelerated bonuses that the company later sued to recover.

Arora followed that with a stint at Amaranth Capital in Greenwich, an energy hedge fund that also collapsed spectacularly, in the process losing two-thirds of the value of its energy trading portfolio.  Amaranth was subsequently sued by the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) with attempting to manipulate the price of natural gas futures.

Arora recently created AlphaStrat, a company  which he claims “focuses on renewable energy, greater energy efficiency, and other green initiatives.”

Yet AlphaStrat’s website makes no mention of renewable energy or anything else.  The entire website consists of the company name and Mr. Arora’s email address.

Arora’s career years in oil and gas trading makes him singulary unfit to deal with our growing climate crisis.  Incredibly, he supports President Trump’s exiting the Paris Climate Accords, claiming that,”Democrats have been dishonest about the (Paris Climate Accords’) effectiveness and their approach has been a blatant attempt to use an important existential issue for political gain.”

His positions on the environment suggest that he would follow in the footsteps of his district’s previous Republican state rep, who compiled what the Connecticut League of Conservation Voters calculated was one of the worst lifetime environmental voting records in the entire Connecticut House of Representatives.

In his recent op ed, Arora claimed that Connecticut, “must cut down the state bureaucracy and make our programs efficient and effective.”  Apparently Arora is unaware that Democratic governor Dan Malloy reversed the major increase in the state workforce during Rowland-Rell, cutting the state workforce by nearly 14% during his tenure, and reducing it back to the level of the mid-1970’s.

Under Governor Lamont’s biennium budget, the state is reducing full-time positions by another 1,300 jobs, equivalent to 3% of the state workforce.

Further, outside actuaries have confirmed that the 10-year agreement Governor Malloy concluded with the public sector unions in 2017 will save Connecticut taxpayers $24 billion over the next two decades.  In fact, Bureau of Labor Statistics reveal that Connecticut is the 10th leanest staffed government of all the fifty states.

Arora claims that “under Democratic leadership, Connecticut has increased taxes and imposed onerous regulation on businesses…”

In fact, during the 16 mostly disastrous years under Republican governors Rowland and Rell, Connecticut’s state spending doubled, rising nearly 4.5% annually.

By contrast, in the 10 years of budgets passed by Democratic governors Malloy and Lamont, spending has increased just 1.6% a year, a pace lower than the rate of inflation.  When Governor Malloy took over from the incompetent Jodi Rell, he inherited a $3.6 billion one-year deficit, an empty rainy day fund, two pension funds on the verge of collapse, and the special transportation fund facing insolvency.

Today, having balanced the budget every year for a decade, the state has accumulated nearly $3 billion in its rainy day fund, both pension funds have been put on a long-term sustainable basis, the STF has staved off insolvency, we’ve added more than 90,000 private sector jobs, the unemployment rate is at a decades low, and the manufacturing economy is in the midst of a major rebound.

Arora asserts that, “the Democrats in power have no interest in investing in our workforce and increasing its productivity and efficiency.”  Really?  Arora clearly hasn’t bothered to find out that Governor Malloy invested heavily in engineering and the sciences in the University of Connecticut system, doubling undergraduate enrollment in the school of engineering.

And under Governor Malloy, Connecticut’s investments and education reforms resulted in six straight years of rising high school graduation rates, which contrasts with years of declining graduation rates under Republican governors.

“Investing in our workforce” also means investing in workers’ health.  Against Republican opposition, Governor Malloy and the General Assembly Democrats created Access Health CT, the highly successful state healthcare exchange, which, together with the ACA’s Medicaid expansion, provided health insurance to a third of a million people in Connecticut, cutting our uninsured rate in half.

Democrats in the General Assembly, over Republican opposition, also invested in our workers’ health by enacting paid family leave, so that a new mother will no longer have to choose between taking care of her new-born baby and paying the mortgage.

All things considered, it’s difficult to conceive of a candidate more unfit to serve in the Connecticut General Assembly than Harry Arora.

NOTE: This letter was submitted prior to Tuesday, Jan 14th deadline for letters to the editor to support or oppose a candidate in the Jan 21 special election for State Rep District 151.