Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s administration lost three key officials on Tuesday with the announcements that chief of staff Timothy Bannon, communications director Colleen Flanagan and director of operations Alvin Wilson are leaving.
Malloy named Andrew Doba, who is currently the spokesman for New York City’s Department of Youth and Community Development, as Flanagan’s replacement. Doba has worked in communications for New York City Council and the campaigns for Mayor Bloomberg and Diane Farrell, who ran for Congress in Connecticut’s fourth district.
The governor did not announce any immediate replacements for Bannon or Wilson. He did end any speculation about his senior policy adviser, saying Roy Occhiogrosso will remain in that capacity.
“There is no change in strategy here at all,” the governor added. “These things happen.”
Malloy announced the departures Tuesday morning, saying “I do have a reputation of working people pretty hard.” He added, “I have enjoyed working as hard as I have with these three individuals.”
Bannon, who has been Malloy’s chief of staff for the last 10 months, said when he agreed to join the administration the understanding was that it would not be long term. He also joked that the long hours are not what caused his departure.
“We never worked more than seven days a week and not one of those days did I work more than 24 hours,” he said.
The governor credited Bannon with spearheading arguably the biggest economic development initiative of the new administration. That includes an $864 million state investment to promote bioscience research centered on the University of Connecticut Health Center in Farmington, and another $291 million to entice Maine-based Jackson Laboratory to operate a genetic research center on that campus.
“He’s running the show,” Malloy said.
Bannon, 63, said he plans to stay in the state and will be looking for a job in the private sector.
Malloy’s first hire as governor-elect, Bannon was tapped to lead the incoming administration last Nov. 11, nine days after Malloy scored a narrow victory over Greenwich Republican Tom Foley.
A key aide who held several posts in the last Democratic administration under Gov. William A. O’Neill, Bannon continued to serve in state government after O’Neill left office in January 1991. A lawyer and a writer with experience both in the corporate world and governor, Bannon was serving as executive director and president of the Connecticut Housing Finance Authority when he was chosen by Malloy.
Having narrowly lost the Democratic gubernatorial primary in 2006, Malloy made in clear last November that Bannon’s diverse background and collaborative approach had put him on his radar screen long ago. “Let me put it this way, if I had been elected four years ago, it would have been Tim Bannon,” Malloy said.
A former press aide to Sen. Christopher J. Dodd and later to the Connecticut Democratic Party, Flanagan took over press duties for Malloy during the post-election transition last November and will not be leaving state service.
Flanagan instead will become director of public affairs and marketing for the new Board of Regents for Higher Education, the entity created last summer when the governor and legislature merged the Connecticut State University and community college systems, as well as Charter Oak State College.
The new merged system will oversee a student population that tops 100,000 and matriculates on campuses in over a dozen different communities. Her move displaces Bernard Kavaler, a veteran communications official with experience at several state agencies. Kavaler declined to comment Tuesday.
Wilson, who served as a deputy chief of staff and also an adviser on education policy, will be leaving to take a post with the Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities.