Staff changes at the governor’s office

Gov. Dannel P. Malloy is losing his shadow.

As part of a reorganization in the governor’s office, Arielle Reich is moving over to the Office of Policy and Management to work on criminal justice issues, ending her long stint as the staffer who goes nearly everywhere with the governor, acting as human interface between Malloy and his office.

Mark Ojakian, who took over as chief of staff after the departure of Tim Bannon in January, said Friday that Reich’s move will be one of several: Kathryn Damato, now overseeing constituent services, will take over the administrative functions of the governor’s office.

Brian Durand is leaving OPM to become Ojakian’s deputy chief of staff. James Desantos, a legislative liaison, is moving to the staff of Connecticut Innovations. With the changes, the governor’s office still will have fewer than its 27 authorized, full-time positions, Ojakian said.

Zack Hyde, the governor’s scheduler, will become the new shadow. It is a classic burn-out job, one that often means meeting the governor at the executive residence at breakfast, then traveling with him throughout the day.

In Ted Mann’s fly-on-the-wall view of the Malloy administration’s first year for the Hearst papers, this was how he described Reich’s job:

“Someone has to read his moods, to hand him his briefing papers, to manage the torrent of phone calls and calendar updates as the Lincoln bombs down route 2 or 8. Where is he supposed to be going? Arielle will know. Someone has to run interference with the family members who want just a minute of his time on the days when he’s already 20 minutes behind.

“This means she’s always working, almost always, when he works. They growl at each other — they’re sick of it, they don’t want to deal with this parade or that night event — but even when she has the opportunity to kick some of these trips over to one of the other staffers, more often than not, she gets into the car.”

It was Reich, who worked for Malloy when he was mayor of Stamford, who coined the term “Malloyalists” for the governor’s inner circle. As a friend to both the governor and his wife, Reich has had the license to be irreverent, to sometimes zing Malloy with a deflating quip.

Malloy is approaching the mid-point of his first term. It often is a time when staff changes are made, a time when a decision to stay means a commitment to remain through the next election.

Ojakian has signed on through November 2014. If other senior staffers are going to move, look for it to happen sooner than later. Officially or not, the governor’s re-election campaign begins Nov. 7, the day after the election.