Car Thefts are the Least Part of Scandal in Juvenile Justice

Democrats in Connecticut insist that there is no crime wave in the state and that concerns about crime are Republican contrivances. But it’s nice that the state’s minority party is pressing any issues at all, and Connecticut lately has had some criminal atrocities that really should be learned from, especially some involving juveniles. One of those atrocities unfolded last week in Manchester, when a 14-year-old boy was charged with the rape and murder of a 13-year-old girl last June. News reports about the arrest discovered that state law prohibits the boy from being tried in open court and, if he

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Tell the Cities to ‘Think Big’? They Did and Only Got Poorer

What do you do when state government policy doesn’t work? In Connecticut the answer is simple: You do more of it. So disaster may be the most likely outcome of a new state program that aims to reserve $175 million per year in bonding for improvement projects in 34 of Connecticut’s poor and distressed municipalities. A spokesman for Governor Lamont hopes the program achieves “generational” change, and a news report about the program says the distressed municipalities are being encouraged to “think big.” But thinking big is what Connecticut’s three biggest, poorest, and most distressed cities have been doing for

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Juvenile Crime Wave Compels Gov. Lamont to Strike a Pose

Even as his party’s leaders in the state Senate kept insisting that Connecticut has no serious crime problem and that the crime clamor is a Republican contrivance, last week Governor Lamont called a press conference at the state Capitol to acknowledge the issue and pledge to act on it. The governor, a Democrat, said he would appoint more judges to address the purported backlog in Connecticut’s secret and thus grossly unaccountable juvenile courts. If more judges don’t solve the problem, at least they will provide patronage opportunities. The governor also described having just met privately with the mother and grandmother

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So Why Did No One Outbid Alden for Tribune Papers?

More complaining about Alden Global Capital’s dismemberment of the storied newspapers it recently acquired from the Tribune chain appeared this month in a long and — to journalists, anyway -– infuriating essay in The Atlantic magazine by its reporter McKay Coppins. This dismemberment, Coppins noted, includes the Chicago Tribune’s former headquarters, the landmark Tribune Tower, which has been converted into an apartment building. But at least what remains of the newspaper still has modest offices in an industrial area across town near the newspaper’s press. Another former Tribune property, the Hartford Courant, no longer has even that much. Somehow Alden

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Republican Senators Leave Juvenile Court Unaccountable

Success in politics is often believed to require making a lot of noise purporting to address issues without really doing anything about them, since doing anything might upset people invested in the status quo. Introducing their juvenile crime proposals last week, the state Senate’s Republican minority followed this formula. The juvenile crime issue exploded in Connecticut in June when a man jogging on a sidewalk in New Britain, Henryk Gudelski, was run down and killed by a stolen car apparently driven by a 17-year-old boy who had been arrested 13 times in the last 3½ years. Though some of the

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‘Two Connecticuts Lament’ Misdiagnoses the Problem

For decades the state’s intelligentsia has lamented that there are “two Connecticuts,” a prosperous one in the suburbs and a poor one in the cities being oppressed — by disparities in property tax rates; by state government’s not spending enough on education and welfare programs, though such spending long has been increasing; and, now, by “systemic racism.” Hearing this an outsider might assume that Connecticut is a stronghold of reactionary Republican politics — that it twice chose Donald Trump for president, that it has been electing Republicans to Congress and the General Assembly since anyone can remember, and that government

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Connecticut’s Hidden Tax on Electric Bills May Be 20%

Strange that most of the clamor about electric rates in Connecticut is directed at the state’s electric utilities and so little at state government. For the Public Utilities Regulatory Authority and the state’s leading electric company, Eversource, agree that 15-20% of the typical Connecticut electricity customer’s monthly bill doesn’t pay for electric generation and transmission at all but for charges imposed by state law and policy. (Connecticut’s other major electric company, United Illuminating, did not reply to a request for its own estimate.) While the charges imposed by state law and policy are collected by the electric utilities, they are

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Trouble With Schools, Kids Hints at Connecticut’s Future

Frogs have gotten a bad reputation from the story about their supposed failure to jump out of a pot of water if its temperature is slowly raised to boiling, eventually killing them. For the story was meant as a metaphor to mock the tendency of people to accept gradually worsening conditions until it is too late. This month Connecticut has been making those metaphorical frogs look superior. First New Haven’s schools began requiring students at sporting events to be accompanied by their parents because brawls broke out at a high school football game. Then Waterbury’s Board of Education was told

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Groucho Knew How to Solve UConn’s Football Problem

Having just been appointed president of Huxley College in the Marx Brothers’ 1932 movie “Horse Feathers,” Groucho’s Professor Quincy Adams Wagstaff quickly diagnoses the institution’s failure. “The trouble is,” he tells the faculty, “we’re neglecting football for education.” Lately the same might be said about the University of Connecticut, whose football program has just sunk from disaster to catastrophe. Since nearly everyone knows the history, there would be no need to review it here except to try to exact some accountability at UConn, and accountability at UConn remains illegal, what with the university paying three presidential salaries even as it

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Since Epidemic is Permanent, Emergency Powers Should End

Governor Lamont seems inclined to ask the General Assembly to extend his emergency powers again to deal with the virus epidemic when they expire at the end of the month. The governor’s request likely would be for another 90 days. The legislature should decline. For starters, while the epidemic continues and is expected to continue indefinitely, there no longer is an emergency. An emergency is something that is sudden, unexpected, and urgent. But the governor’s emergency powers have been in effect for 18 months, the epidemic has become a way of life for everyone, and nothing about it is sudden,

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Hiring Cops is Getting Harder But it’s Partly Their Own Fault

Police departments in Connecticut and throughout the country — especially in cities, like Bridgeport, but also in some suburbs, like Enfield — are having trouble recruiting police officers. It’s a tough job and getting tougher amid social disintegration and the virus epidemic. Murders and other violent crimes are up and respect for the police is down among many people because of well-publicized misconduct. In Connecticut police officers and potential candidates for police jobs have been discouraged by the recent enactment of accountability legislation, which has caused them to suspect that government won’t stand behind them in controversy. But even tough

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Lots of Money for Salaries But None to Purify School Air

Federal government money is raining down on Connecticut state government and municipal governments every day and yet, according to the Connecticut Mirror, state and municipal officials say there is no money anywhere for renovating or replacing school ventilation systems, despite the danger of the COVID-19 virus epidemic. While state government long has reimbursed municipalities for a huge portion of school construction and renovation projects — maybe too generously amid Connecticut’s declining student population — state government policy has been not to pay for school ventilation work but to leave that to the towns. Deputy state budget director Konstantinos Diamantis, state

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A Small Win for Republicans; And Accountability for War

Connecticut’s Republicans have been down so long that they’re entitled to construe almost anything as up. But they’re making too much of Ryan Fazio’s victory in last week’s special election in the 36th Senate District, which includes Greenwich and parts of Stamford and New Canaan. The district ordinarily leans strongly Republican and until 2018 had not elected a Democratic state senator in 88 years, but Fazio defeated the Democratic nominee, Alexis Gevanter, by only 2½%. In its previous two elections the district had chosen a Democrat, Alexandra Kasser, because she spent a fortune on her campaigns and because of the

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Social Work Caucus Denies Failures of Juvenile Justice

Legislators belonging to what might be called the General Assembly’s social work caucus gathered at the state Capitol the other day to insist that there really isn’t much wrong with juvenile justice in Connecticut but that, of course, it always could use more social workers and “programs” to help keep young people out of trouble. The social work caucus members insisted that while some car thefts and other crimes lately committed by juveniles have been brazen and atrocious, the recent increase in car thefts is a national phenomenon and over the long term car thefts have actually declined. But the

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State Police Integrity Fails; And State Ignores Voter Fraud

Accountability and integrity are slipping badly with the Connecticut state police. The agency has failed to complete an investigation of trooper misconduct arising from a retirement party at a brewery in Oxford 22 months ago. Security video reported last week by the Hearst Connecticut newspapers shows that state police Sgt. John McDonald drank heavily for five hours at the party. Leaving in a state police car, McDonald drove about three-quarters a mile before smashing into a car carrying a woman and her daughter, pushing them off the road and seriously injuring them. McDonald was charged with driving while intoxicated, reckless

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Juvenile Crime Forum Avoids Relevance and Accountability

Last week’s well-attended forum on juvenile crime and justice, called by Glastonbury’s Town Council, was illuminating, just not so much about juvenile crime and justice. Dozens of people expressed their anger about the inability of state and municipal government to curtail the explosion of car thefts, burglaries, and other misconduct by young people who have realized that there will never be any punishment for them, just therapy, now that political correctness controls juvenile justice. Mostly the forum illuminated Connecticut’s social contract, whereby the Democratic Party is permitted to operate the cities as poverty and patronage factories, with their daily murders

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State Employee Unions Help Lamont as They Criticize Him

Connecticut’s state employee unions may be rendering great service to Governor Lamont’s probable campaign for re-election by complaining about him. This service may be greater than their usual provision of manpower to Democratic campaigns. For their complaining suggests that the governor isn’t their tool as most Democrats are. Last week the unions protested the governor’s recalling their members back to work at state government offices. Among other things the unions argued that by working from home they are reducing carbon emissions. Yes, the unions are always looking out for the planet first, not themselves. Then the unions held a rally

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Colleges Serve Themselves; and Expose Juvenile Courts

Enrollment at Connecticut’s community colleges has been collapsing, probably because the state’s economy is weak and most students being admitted are unprepared for higher education, having never mastered high school work but having been promoted anyway. So what are the colleges doing? The Connecticut Examiner says that instead of cutting staff, the colleges are hiring 174 advisers to help boost enrollment and student performance. This isn’t to benefit students as much as the colleges themselves — to preserve their jobs when the billions of dollars in emergency money from the federal government runs out and state government has more incentive

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With Taxes in Connecticut, ‘Fair’ Always Means ‘More’

So much in government in Connecticut is euphemism. Political patronage is called “equity” and “social justice.” Increasing the compensation of teachers is “aid to education.” Raising gasoline taxes is a “climate initiative.” And now the new state budget, at the instigation of the House chairman of the General Assembly’s finance committee, Rep. Sean Scanlon, D-Guilford, is directing the Lamont administration to undertake another study of how “fair” Connecticut’s tax system is. “Fair” is almost sure to be defined again as something that raises more money for state government. That is the only possible purpose for such a study, since the

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Discipline for Police Fails Amid Secrecy, Union Clout

Connecticut’s most important journalism last week was the study produced by Bill Cummings of the Hearst newspapers about the weakness and secrecy in discipline of misconduct by municipal police officers in Fairfield and New Haven counties. While police are far more sinned against than sinning, sensational cases of misconduct, however unrepresentative, heighten the need for accountability, especially since police departments are in charge of policing themselves, at least until a lawsuit is brought in court. Perhaps what was most inexcusable in what the Hearst report found was the refusal of many police departments to disclose disciplinary records in a timely

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‘Rats’ Ride the ‘Implementer’; and Presto-Change-O: Equity!

What a mockery of democracy has been made by the Democratic majority in the General Assembly with its legislation “implementing” the new state budget. While the budget itself turned out to be bipartisan, drawing many votes from the Republican minority because it threw lots of federal emergency money around without raising taxes, the “implementer” is a partisan ram job. Worse than its partisanship, the “implementer” is practically a second legislative session stuffed into a single bill, going far beyond the technical language needed to put the budget into effect. The “implementer” incorporates legislative proposals that never got public hearings and

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That ‘Transformational’ Budget Really Won’t Change Much at All

Some small good things were done by the session of the General Assembly just concluded, but the best things about the session may have been what it didn’t do. That is, it did not raise taxes much — mainly on heavy trucks — and thus did not disadvantage Connecticut more relative to other states and did not give the state’s taxpaying residents more reason to consider leaving for less expensive jurisdictions. The large far-left faction of the Democratic legislative caucuses wanted to raise taxes sharply on the rich, but with the state rolling in emergency money from the federal government,

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Can UConn Really Economize? And Social Promotion Wins

Congratulations may be in order for the University of Connecticut’s Board of Trustees for discovering, upon the abrupt resignation of Thomas C. Katsouleas after less than two years on the job, that the university doesn’t really need its own president. For last week the board announced that Andrew Agwunobi, chief executive of the UConn Health Center in Farmington, will serve simultaneously as president of the whole university for the time being, continuing to receive his $709,000 annual salary at the health center while the board negotiates his pay for doing both jobs. Agwunobi’s appointment suggests two things. First, that Agwunobi

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UConn Prez’s Resignation is a Spectacular Embarrassment

Long having been shameless because the governor and General Assembly never call it to account, the University of Connecticut probably won’t show any embarrassment over last week’s abrupt resignation of its president, Thomas C. Katsouleas, who was not even two years into the job. But Connecticut might be mortified. Of course no official explanation has been given, but news reports say Katsouleas quickly alienated the university’s Board of Trustees by announcing major initiatives without the board’s approval. Having eagerly danced to every politically correct tune that was played for him on campus, Katsouleas shouldn’t be missed — and indeed as

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Should Government Take Over the Nursing Home Business?

Nursing home workers in Connecticut long have been essentially state government employees because most patients are technically indigent and their care is financed by state government’s Medicaid program — for nearly $1.2 billion per year, half reimbursed by the federal government. The euphemism for this is “estate planning.” When people who have assets reach a certain age they are advised to squirrel their assets away where government can’t get at them — reliable family members, trusts, and such — so if someone needs round-the-clock care, he can go on welfare. It’s a demeaning system and no longer saves much money

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Big Dreams Distract Dems; And All Could Be ‘Doctors’

Democrats in the General Assembly are busy with big plans for transforming Connecticut. Though state government is rolling in federal cash, the Democrats want to tax business and the wealthy a lot more. They want to overthrow suburban zoning. They want state government to start selling medical insurance to small businesses. They would legalize and commercialize marijuana and erase thousands of criminal records. They seek a vast expansion of state-sanctioned gambling. But that’s all in the future. What Democratic legislators don’t want to do is take responsibility for running Connecticut in the present. Instead once again the Democratic legislators want

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Eventually We’ll All be Paying and Young Car Thieves Laugh

Nearly everyone except government employees has suffered financial losses during the virus epidemic, and since those losses were caused more by government’s closure of much of the economy than by the epidemic itself, everyone wants reimbursement from the government. There’s some justice in this, especially in the requests from businesses in Connecticut for state government to use its federal epidemic relief money to cover the $700 million the state borrowed from the federal government to pay the huge and unexpected unemployment benefits claimed during the epidemic. Otherwise unemployment insurance taxes on businesses may have to be increased for years, weakening

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Lamont Probably Won’t Mind Denunciation as a Moderate

Many liberal Democratic officials around the country and especially in the Northeast, including Governor Lamont, are looking hypocritical for urging President Biden to help repeal the federal government’s limit on the deductibility of state and local taxes — the “SALT” tax deduction cap. Liberal Democrats usually advocate more progressive taxation — that is, higher tax rates on higher incomes — and progressive taxation is exactly what the cap on SALT deductions is. It limits to $10,000 the deduction taken by federal income taxpayers for the state and local taxes they pay. Anyone who pays more than $10,000 altogether in state income and municipal property taxes is probably doing well financially. Liberal and conservative tax analysts agree

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Slush Funding Will Preserve State Government’s Excesses

With as much as $4 billion in discretionary largesse about to descend on Connecticut’s state and municipal governments and school systems, economizing and improving services to the public will be removed from the agenda for a long time. These slush funds can only worsen the excesses and exploitation in government, even as the Yankee Institute’s extraordinary investigative reporter, Marc Fitch, has noted some big excesses this month. Fitch reported that another 62 managers at the state Transportation Department are being permitted to unionize though their annual salaries range from $86,000 to $149,000, quite apart from their luxurious fringe benefits. According

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DeLauro, Chief of Staff Show What ‘Public Service’ Means

Congratulations to one of Connecticut’s forever members of Congress, U.S. Rep. Rosa DeLauro, Democrat of New Haven, for teaching the country a wonderful political science lesson. Having ascended to the chairmanship of the House Appropriations Committee, DeLauro has just revived the infamous practice of putting “earmarks” in the federal budget — requirements that funds that ordinarily would be appropriated for general purposes be reserved for patronage projects desired by congressmen. Now DeLauro is forwarding her chief of staff, Leticia Mederos, to a national law and government relations firm, Clark Hill, whose office on Pennsylvania Avenue is within walking distance of

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