Yesterday's papers carried a story (today online via the CT Post) titled "The running of the rich: Is wealth changing Connecticut politics?", which examines the relative wealth of the candidates vying for election here in Connecticut.
The story's authors submitted a 16-question survey to each of the candidates and asked to take a picture in their living rooms.
Merrick Alpert declined to answer the survey, basically citing the frivolity of asking silly questions (my words, not his) like, what is your favorite restaurant and how much you pay for a haircut, while tens of thousands are unemployed in the state and 47 million Americans don't have health insurance.
As a result they left Alpert out of the story altogether. But the story DID cover Ned Lamont, who also declined to answer the questionnaire, so I wonder if the editors just didn't like Merrick's answer? Interesting.
The results of the questionnaire aren't necessarily earth shaking, as we're fairly well acquainted with the realities of the political landscape. But there are a few things that caught my attention.
Specifically, the question about boats and other recreational vehicles intrigued me. Did you know that Linda McMahon owns a 48-foot sport fisherman named "Sexy Bitch"?
Really, Linda? "Sexy Bitch"? Well, I guess you can forget about winning the "Betty Friedan Award for Feminism" any time soon.
(...I don't even know if that's a real award, but probably...)
Or that Tom Foley is listed as the owner of a 100-foot yacht named "Odalisque"?
Have you ever seen what you get when you do a Google image search of the word "odalisque" with SafeSearch turned off?
And why doesn't Foley register the boat in a US port rather than what sounds like some kind of offshore tax shelter?
(BTW, that's not a picture of the real "Odalisque" above, just what I imagine it to look like)
Rob Simmons owns a J/22 sailboat, which is a great daysailor/racing boat. J-Boats are built in Rhode Island and are very popular with people who enjoy being out on the water.
Peter Schiff owns a Beneteau 33 sailboat, which is nice enough, but of course it's made in Europe, just like his luxury automobiles. Did I ever mention that his company is called "Euro Pacific Capital"?
Dan Malloy owns a 28-foot power boat, which makes sense seeing as Stamford has a busy harbor and is located on the Sound.
I know Ned Lamont is a sailor, but since he chose not to participate in the survey, they didn't have specifics on any boat he might own.
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Anyway, enough about the boats. I feel it's only fair if people who report on this story are held to the same standard as the candidates, so just like my pal Authentic Connecticut Republican did, I'm going to answer the questionnaire. My replies to the original questions are in italics:
1) How many residences do you own? What is the size of each house (including lot size)? How many rooms? What is the assessed value? Would you agree to have a photograph taken in your living room?
One, a modest 2 bedroom affair, maybe 1100 sq. feet, on a minuscule lot (which is great when it's time to cut the grass!) The last time I looked the tax assessment was $127K. But we own it outright, thank god.
2) Would you provide us a photocopy of the front sheet of your most recent IRS tax filing, including income, tax deductions and taxes paid?
Um, no? Let’s just say I’m very non-wealthy and leave it at that.
3) What are the years, makes and models of the personal vehicles owned or leased by you/for you and your immediate family members?
1994 Chevy Cavalier wagon, 1998 Jeep Cherokee. Both paid for, thank god.
My wife and I have only owned American cars, which we’ve always felt is the patriotic thing to do.
4) Are any boats, planes or recreational vehicles owned by you or leased by you or for you? If so, please provide the particulars.
We own a thirty year old J/30 sailboat, also made in the USA, which is fully paid off, thank god. The current value is maybe $18K. Upkeep is a big expense, our only indulgence.
5) What kind of watch do you wear?
Timex waterproof digital for sailing, otherwise I just look at my cell phone or find a sundial.
Oh, I do have a dressy-looking Seiko analog watch, but the battery died years ago and I only wear it to weddings and funerals. It’s kind of embarrassing if someone actually asks me what time it is.
6) Where was your most recent family vacation? Where did you stay?
On our boat, Long Island Sound, various anchorages. We always drop the hook rather than pay for a slip, which can be a bit pricey.
7) Where do you buy your business attire?
Um, what’s “business attire”?
8) Where do your children attend school?
None kids, but if we had any rugrats they’d go to public schools.
9) Are you a member of any private clubs – country clubs, dinner clubs, etc.?
No. We do belong to a paper yacht-racing club, but dues are only $100 per year and we’re expected to pitch in and help run the races and events.
10) How much do you pay for a haircut/hairstyling? Where do you go?
Nothing. CT Joyce cuts my hair. Can’t you tell?
11) What is your favorite alcoholic beverage?
What isn’t? (LOL)
12) Do you have any hobbies?
See #6, also cross-country skiing, hiking, and bicycling. Anything healthy, and inexpensive or free. Free especially. Free is good.
Traillink.com is a great resource for hiking/biking trails. And Google Maps has just started showing bicycling trails as one of the “More” options. It’s really awesome.
13) What restaurant do you most frequently patronize?
Currently Incas Peruvian Restaurant, located steps from our house. Every day I can smell those delicious meals being prepared. It’s just not fair when I’m on a diet. Like now.
14) With what insurance company do you have family health coverage? Is it employer-provided? What are your own monthly premiums? Deductibles and co-pays?
US Healthcare, company provided with a monthly premium, at least until I get laid off soon. After that, who knows? Maybe I’ll just show up at the Emergency Room and demand treatment, like what all those Tea Baggers insist is a good health care solution for the unemployed.
15) Do you employ any household staff? If so, please detail.
Oh wait, you were serious?
16) How much did you donate to charity last year? What charity is the principal recipient of your donations?
Cash-wise, probably under $500; but many in-kind labor and material donations. I usually don’t keep track, but so far this year I’ve contributed over 60 hours of my spare time for the city’s government access cable channel.
And all this was after the GOP-dominated Board of Alderman voted me off the Committee for blatantly partisan reasons.
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So, that's the questionnaire. However, they forgot a few important (some might say cynical) questions they should have included.
Of course, I'm more than willing to include them here:
"Which megalithic corporate entity are you planning to sell us out to?"
"Have you ever not paid your taxes/professional fees/Christmas Club deposits?"
"Do you employ a nanny of undocumented alien status?"
"Can we have a photo of the mistress that will eventually cause you to resign from office?"