House Minority Leader Lawrence F. Cafero Jr., R-Norwalk, far right, speaks while two Democratic colleagues play solitaire on their computers as the state House of Representatives convenes to vote on a new budget for the fiscal year in the state Capitol on Monday [AP Photo by Jessica Hill]
A photo of two Democratic legislators playing solitaire has ignited controversy at the state Capitol and in the blogosphere.
The Associated Press picture has appeared in any number of venues, and it shows two lawmakers sitting in the back row of the historic Hall of the House in Hartford during the lengthy debate over the two-year, $37 billion state budget.
On the left is Rep. Barbara Lambert, a freshman Democrat from Milford who won her first legislative election in November 2008. She replaced longtime Milford Democrat James Amann, who ended his legislative career as the House Speaker and is now running for governor against Republican M. Jodi Rell.
Lambert is playing spider solitaire in the photo, while Rep. Jack F. Hennessy, a Bridgeport Democrat who has served in Hartford since 2005, is playing regular solitaire. They both voted in favor of the Democratic-written budget, while Cafero voted against it. A Boston College graduate, Hennessy is a delivery specialist for FedEx.
During the long debates at the state Capitol, legislators often work on their laptop computers - as seen in the photograph. Sometimes they are answering e-mails from constituents, while other times they are researching important information on pending bills. Other times, they are playing solitaire.
When asked Tuesday about the photo by Capitol Watch, Republican Gov. M. Jodi Rell laughed and said, "I think if they'd spend less time playing computer games and more time looking for spending cuts, then we would have been out of here a lot sooner.''