Archive - Mar 28, 2010

Ned Lamont Addresses Bloggers in New Haven

Friday evening, Connecticut Gubernatorial Candidate Ned Lamont met with a group of about a dozen bloggers and staffers to discuss various issues that the state and the campaign faces. Friday was also the day that New Haven, along with over a thousand other municipalities, filed their requests to become cities where Google would test gigabit Internet.

Ned's company, Lamont Digital Systems, has been providing cable services, including high speed Internet to colleges and universities for over twenty-five years, and so I asked him his thoughts about the Google gigabit Internet effort. He wouldn't say a lot about what his company is doing, or planning in the future and only noted that they provide high speed internet connectivity to college campuses and it is up to the college campuses how they make that available to students. He did note that companies would be wise to study what students are doing with the Internet on college campuses as a good indication of the future of digital.

In terms of the efforts by New Haven to become a Google test bed, he noted the superb research institutions in New Haven and what a great boost gigabit Internet would bring to the area for research as well as for economic development. He went on to say that the state needs to be looking at how it would promote digital infrastructure across the state, not only in big cities but in rural areas as well.

When I asked about what could be done to improve the infrastructure in Hartford, he noted that many agencies look like they are still in the 1970s and technology in Hartford needs a major overhaul. He asked why there isn't more sharing of computing resources and information in Hartford. Improving the technology infrastructure, in the long term, would reduce costs, improve service and also improve government transparency.

Included in his ideas for more efficient technology in Hartford, Mr. Lamont suggested that the state government should do more electronic group purchasing, and should allow municipalities to join in on the electronic group purchasing for additional savings both in Hartford and at the local level.

Unfortunately, he noted, addressing many the technology problems in Hartford requires upfront spending, and during these difficult financial times, it is hard to make these sort expenditures. When asked about what can be done for the near term financial problems he spoke about elimination of longevity pay and more furlough days, two items that the Senate Democrats included in their deficit mitigation package. He spoke about eliminating some of the deputy commissioner positions and seeking recurring cuts, instead of simply one-time budget transfers.

Since this was a meeting with bloggers, and not the traditional news media I asked him his thoughts on media consolidation. Mr. Lamont did not seem especially concerned. He stated he was much more concerned about it fifteen years ago, but that now, with the Internet, people have much more choice about what news they receive and that there is much less central control over the news. He encouraged people to read from a wide variety of sources.

In closing, Ned Lamont noted the importance of projects like GoogleHaven. Most importantly, he said we need someone who will challenge the status quo. He did that, taking on the cable companies when he started his own company. His campaign in 2006 challenged the political status quo, and he hopes to get an opportunity to challenge the status quo in Hartford.

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