Former Connecticut Governor, William O’Neill — who served during the 1980s — passed away this afternoon. He is the second former Connecticut governor to pass away in the last month. The Hartford Courant has this report:
William A. O’Neill, the one-time tavern owner and small-town Democrat who became the longest-serving Connecticut governor in nearly 200 years, died Saturday afternoon at his home in East Hampton. He was 77. …
O’Neill was lieutenant governor on Dec. 31, 1980, when cancer forced the resignation of a dying Gov. Ella T. Grasso, a formidable politician with a national profile.
The new governor was underestimated by Republicans and even more so by a younger generation of liberal Democrats. But O’Neill was a tough insider who had won fights to become the House majority leader, chairman of the state Democratic party and lieutenant governor.
Over 10 years and 10 days as the state’s 84th governor, the conservative O’Neill assembled a bright, ideologically diverse administration that poured money into education, health care and the state’s long-neglected infrastructure.
His profile on the state’s library can be found here. Ultimately, one of the larger changes to the CHRO occurred in his term.
Specifically, a flurry of complaints to the Governor about the slowness of the Commission’s investigations led to the Governor’s appointment of a task force in July 1988 to review the management and operations of the Commission. The task force report culminated in PA 89-332, which imposed a time frame on the investigation process and changed how commissioners and hearing officers were appointed. That foundation is at the heart of the modern changes to the way the CHRO functions today.
A variety of online sources are available about him. One of the more fascinating is a series of oral interviews conducted with him, available on CCSU’s website. These "raw" interviews can be streamed here. The first of them can be found here.