Near the gate of a doomed paper mill, Republican Tom Foley alighted from the back seat of a blue BMW sedan Tuesday to assail the economic policies of Gov. Dannel P. Malloy, only to find himself in a raucous street debate with the local first selectwoman and soon-to-be jobless workers. Foley, a candidate for governor, came to fault Malloy for the recently announced plans by a global investment firm to close Fusion Paperboard, costing 140 jobs in this struggling mill town. By the time he left, Foley had defended the decision of the absentee owners and told the selectwoman and workers they shared blame for the mill's demise.
"We waited an hour for you to come here for a press conference in front of a company that is not even Fusion. Fusion is up there. This is Caraustar.”
"You're a businessman," said Rich Harrelle, a 29-year employee of the mill and president of United Steel Workers Local 1840, which represents the Fusion employees. "That's right," Foley said. "You close mills down," Harrelle said. "Yeah," Foley said.
"You want to blame people who are hundreds or thousands of miles away, malign management," Foley told the workers and First Selectwoman Cathy Osten, a Democratic state senator and Malloy supporter. "Listen, you have failed, because you have lost these jobs."
Foley was asked by a reporter if every business failure was a failure of the Malloy administration. He said it was not. Some industries "mature" and no longer can compete, such as textiles. Foley acknowledged he had done no close analysis of Fusion, other than reading what had been published in the press.