Question: Can Democrat Dan Malloy, mayor of Stamford for a record 14 years, reverse Connecticut's downward spiral if he becomes governor in November?

Malloy is seeking his party's nomination for governor in the November election.

As mayor, he changed Stamford to one of the 10 best places in the country to live, brought in 5,000 new jobs, served up free pre-kindergarten to all 4-year-olds, reduced crime, attracted 12,000 new residents and widened the supply of affordable housing.

During a meeting at Westport's Sunrise Rotary, Republican Ken Bernhard asked Molloy how he would apply his city governance on a state level.

The question from Bernhard, Westport veteran of the Connecticut legislature, signaled an "open sesame" for Malloy to talk politics -- the subject is normally off limits for Rotary speakers.

Malloy, biting on Bernhard's bait, said the new governor will need to take on "an economy that is a disaster" -- facing rising deficits that can only escalate from $6 billion a year.

The fiscal outlook will continue to be dim, Malloy estimates. He based this prognostication on loss of revenue in income taxes on account of steep job losses in the state.

Connecticut's unemployment rate, second only to Michigan's among the 50 states, hovers around 10 percent.

"The root of the trouble in stumbling Connecticut is a divided legislature incapable of producing a good government," according to Malloy. "We have to recognize that a divided legislature cannot produce good government."

He said that right now, the Democrats are dominant but not willing to do heavy-lifting. He described the state's Republican party as "paralyzed."

"I say shame on both the Democrats and the Republicans in the legislature," Malloy said, his voice rising.

Malloy also criticized Gov. M. Jodi Rell's administration for resorting to floating bonds to patch holes in the state's operating budget. He deplores the practice. He contends that the state needs more income, not more debt.

During the early and non-political part of his talk to the Rotarians, Malloy noted that since childhood he has had difficulty processing oral speech into written words.

He said it was part of learning difficulties that his mother, Agnes Veronica Egan Malloy, helped him to surmount. She refused to accept the diagnosis that he was mentally retarded.

"My mother concentrated on what I could do and not on what I could not do," he said.

He was the first student admitted by Boston College to a four-year program customized to work with his learning disabilities. He graduated with high honors and was admitted to Boston College Law School.

"I took my bar exams -- Connecticut, Massachusetts, New York -- orally."

While he was in law school, he was asked by Boston College to talk with a learning disabled football player who was considering going to Boston College.

That potential student and his parents had doubts about Boston College being the right place for their learning disabled son to get an education and play football. Malloy convinced them that the school's customized attention to his learning disabilities worked for him.

The parents were sold on the idea, and their son entered Boston College. He played quarterback on the Boston College squad.

In 1984 that guy, quarterback Doug Flutie, won the Heisman Trophy awarded to the outstanding college football player.