Monthly Archives: January 2013

The community in the state capitol

Photo by Daniel Jackson
Last week was a whirlwind for me. A last minute story assignment led me to shadowing a state representative and standing in the Connecticut house chamber witnessing the swearing in of the house and Governor Dannel Malloy’s state of the state address.

The mood in the capitol was different than what I expected. While the legislators were recognizing the work ahead–the tragedy in Sandy Hook cast a shadow on the day–the legislators joked with each other, gave each other advice and called themselves close friends and family.

On the first day, representatives were learning the proper procedure for conducting government. When former House Speaker Chris Donovan listened to the roll being called, one representative stumbled when he recognized his name. Donovan just told the representative “present” or “here” are acceptable procedure when responding to a roll call.

When Donovan gave his parting speech, he said he was proud of what the house accomplished, and he told the new representatives they would find some of their closest friends among the politicians gathered there.

House Minority Leader Larry Cafero told the representatives to take care of their health.

When Cafero and House Majority Leader Joe Aresimowicz nominated J. Brendan Sharkey as Speaker of the House, both talked about how the man was a policy wonk and a prankster.

Sharkey was sworn in and he told the legislators that when a group came to escort him to the house floor, he hid in his bathroom in the capitol.

“It took a while, but we worked it all out,” he said.

And of course, the legislators brought their wives, mothers and children to witness the first day.

During the Finance, Revenue and Bonding Committee, the representative from Manchester, Jason Rojas, held one daughter on his lap while his other daughter drank a soda by his chair.

Little things, yes, but it’s a side of the legislature we don’t see through political news reports.

Photo by Daniel Jackson

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The badge vs the camera


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I told him his photograph would not appear in the newspaper.

That is why I blacked out the police officer’s face in the above photo, because I gave him my word. I was illustrating a story I wrote about my police department and needed a photo. So instead of just snapping a photo of the front of the building and being done with it, I looked to find an interesting angle. Then he came out.

He was a person. He was moving. He was thus interesting.

I continued shooting and then ran around to the front to get a better angle of him driving away in the police cruiser. As I captured that shot, he saw me.

The cruiser stopped. A pause. He asked me what I was doing.

I was from the paper, I told him.

Did you take my picture?

Well, it was actually of the car, I said. The photo (which isn’t on this blog because I sold it to the paper) didn’t show his face because the glint of the window shield obscured him.

I even showed him the photo. I didn’t have to do that.

He told me he doesn’t want to be in the paper. I told him I could understand that. He drove away.

I was agreeable because he wasn’t the subject of my story and when you are working in a small town, it pays off to make as many friends as you can.

I was also nervous. Being arrested or otherwise in trouble with the police department is not on my to-do list for Christmas break. (see rule #7. It’s melodramatic.)

Looking back, I should have told him that I had a legal right to photograph him, that I wouldn’t use his image because he asked today, but if he was involved with a newsworthy event later, I would not hesitate to shoot.

Overall, it was a minor event–nothing like the major cases that have been in the media. But it still bothered me. I had the right, and he had the badge.