If a Law Isn’t Working, It Must Be Repealed

To the Editor: Imagine this scenario: 35 years ago, you and your spouse bought a modestly sized home in a neighborhood in suburban Connecticut. It took just about everything that you had to put together the down payment — years of working hard and saving until you could purchase your own dream home. One day you learn that the one-acre lot behind your property has been sold to a developer who plans to build a four story apartment complex with 94 units, built right up to within three feet of your property line. After the initial shock and anger wears

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Blue State Blues

Connecticut is a blue state, with a serious case of the job market blues. In December, the state added just 600 jobs, a sad number, and even sadder because the likely cause is abandonment. That is, workers are leaving the state. The December number leaves state employment at about 1,625,000, still about 75,000, or 4.4%, below its pre-pandemic level of 1.7 million in February 2020, according to the Connecticut Department of Labor. National employment is only 1.8% below its February 2020 level. While December was a bad employment month for the whole nation, Connecticut’s employment woes are not a one-month

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How do we Come to Terms Politically?

To the Editor: President Biden on his inauguration gave this wonderful speech on how with his whole being he was going to unite the country. In his address he spoke about conciliation, and making sure he would work together with Republicans.  “I believe the power of the Presidency and the purpose is to unite this nation, not divide it; to lift us up, not tear us apart; to be about us not about me” …This is not a land of dictators or autocrats. We are a nation of laws; of order, not chaos; but of piece, not violence.” So far,

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A Tale of Two Railroads

When I read two very different news stories about our trains last week, Charles Dickens came to mind:   “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times… it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair.” – A Tale of Two Cities Oh, it’s our winter of our despair, alright, especially for Metro-North when the NY Times last Friday so cogently summarized the commuter line’s near-term future as being “Devastated by Remote Work”, almost verbatim repeating my predictions of one year ago:  commuters are not coming back. Late in 2021 the weekday ridership on

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Investing in Renewable Technologies is Safer, Faster, and Cheaper

Thorium, formed by radioactive decay of uranium, is a naturally occurring radioactive metal found in rock, water, and soil. Found in monazite and other minerals, it’s 3X more abundant than uranium. Despite its radioactivity, small amounts of thorium were used in lantern mantles for brightness, ceramic glazes and welding rods. Until the 1950s, thorium dioxide was used as a contrast agent (i.e. Thorotrast) in medical radiology. Between 1930 and 1950, after 2.5 million people were injected with Thoroplast worldwide, resulting lifelong exposures to thorium produced higher than normal incidences of liver tumors. Inhalation of thorium dust by townspeople near mining

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Fiorello: Demand a Substantial Modification or Repeal of 8-30g.

Happy New Year!  I hope you are starting 2022 rested and ready for what the new year has in store.  For those of us who were in the fight last year to protect private property rights and maintain local control of zoning, I want to share with you that the housing activists in Hartford known as DesegregateCT are back and already pushing their agenda to enact new state laws that would force Connecticut’s cities and towns to increase housing density. The state legislature will go into session on February 9 and adjourn on May 4, 2022.  This is the window

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The Pandemic Is Over. Pivot to the Economy.

In the early days of COVID, the key objective was herd immunity. Today, we are there, or very nearly so. We should declare victory. It has been a costly victory. It may be a Pyrrhic victory, unless we pivot rapidly from COVID to the economy. According to CDC data, we have reached herd immunity, consisting of immunity conveyed by vaccination plus natural immunity borne of survival of the virus. 250 million, or almost 80% of, Americans have received at least one shot, and 65 million, or about 20%, have contracted COVID and survived. We are about as close to full

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Chicago (America) Shall Rise Again

America — like Chicago in 1870’s — shall rise again. The Chicago fire went on for over 24 hours. It demolished ⅓ of the fifth largest American city at the time, and killed hundreds, leaving countless people homeless. The fire tore through 73 miles of street.  Despite all that, citizens uttered the famous words, “Chicago Shall Rise Again”. At the time, Chicago was experiencing an abnormal lack of rain – roughly ¼ of what the city normally received, making the buildings dry and prone to fires. There was often only a small fire resistant layer on the outside (of buildings)

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Connecticut Democrats Prize a Huge Tax Break for the Rich

Governor Lamont and state Attorney General William Tong, both Democrats, are pressing in federal court to restore a lucrative tax break for the rich. But somehow they are escaping criticism from those in their party who clamor for taxing the rich more. The governor and attorney general have asked the U.S. Supreme Court to hear the appeal of Connecticut and other states that claim that it is unconstitutional for the federal tax code to limit to $10,000 the annual deductibility of state and local taxes — the SALT cap. The SALT cap may have been the only liberal change to

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Griswold: Ames Property Purchase Ends Without Success

The Old Lyme Open Space Commission deeply regrets that, despite its diligent work over the past 18 months, and the work and support of other Town boards and commissions including the Board of Selectmen, the Board of Finance and the Planning Commission, its efforts to acquire two parcels of the “Ames Property” for addition to the Town’s open space lands have not been successful and have concluded. In the end, it proved impossible to overcome obstacles posed by the recorded documents that created the five-parcel subdivision of which the two open-space parcels were a part. This outcome is especially unfortunate

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Is There a Future for Overnight Trains?

In an age of ever-faster trains connecting major cities globally, is there any future for anachronistic night trains with sleeping cars?  Why, yes! In the old days you used to be able to travel long and relatively short distances on overnight trains, either in coach or a comfy sleeping compartment.  On the New Haven Railroad you could board your train at Grand Central before midnight and awake the next morning in Boston, Cape Cod or Montreal.  It was like combining the cost of travel and a hotel in one package. Accommodations in the sleeper cars ranged from upper or lower

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Twice Job Postings for the Office of Dyslexia Violated Legal Requirements

To the Editor: In 2021, Connecticut’s General Assembly passed bipartisan legislation, Public Act 21-168, that created and funded a new Office of Dyslexia and Reading Disabilities (ODRD) within the state’s Department of Education. The office was created in response to Commissioner Charlene Russell-Tucker’s testimony that the Department of Education lacked the internal expertise, lack of capacity and resources to implement section 1 of legislation recommended by the state’s Dyslexia Task Force, after finding that prior legislation dating to 2014-2017 had not yet been fully implemented. On December 29, 2021, a job for Office of Dyslexia Education Bureau Chief was posted,

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Both Major Parties Take The Myopic View Human Existence Revolves Around Profligate Economies

Whenever we’re on the verge of avoiding disasters and accomplishing something meaningful for America’s future, international welfare and life itself, obstructionists sabotage our progress. Both major parties, GOP extremists especially, take the myopic view human existence revolves around profligate economies ─ prices at pumps, tenderloin sales (subsidized by taxes), mortgages; car loans. Levying a $175 billion/year, decade-long tithe on tax-avoidant rich and corporations to fund Build Back Better is somehow too expensive, delaying passage of transformative, desperately-needed initiatives. Yet, the world’s most gluttonous military budget ($770 billion/year or $7.7 trillion projected over 10), emptying the government’s coffers, sails through Congress

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Opposition to the Planned Storage Facility at 224 Shore Rd, Old Lyme

To the Editor: I am writing in opposition regarding the project at 224 Shore Rd in Old Lyme that is requesting a modification. This project was approved very quickly during the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic with little input and/or opposition from public. Notice given to property owners within 100 feet. People across the street weren’t notified! The project was approved on July13, 2020 after multiple cancellations of meetings, none virtual. This project was approved with 4 buildings that were supposed to be in size 1,800-4,200 sf are now up to 6400 sf  and 6600 sf with no renderings of the

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Tax Cuts Will Achieve Little Without Spending Cuts Too

Bribing people with their own money is a standard technique of politics, and with a state election coming up, Connecticut’s Democratic and Republican leaders are already at it. Governor Lamont, who will be nominated by the Democrats for a second term, says he is likely to propose increasing the property tax credit on the state income tax. The Republican minority in the state Senate proposes cutting sales taxes a little. Both sides assume that these tax cuts are possible without cutting spending because state government is rolling in money at the moment, as a booming stock market has produced lots

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We Must Ban Exclusionary Discipline for Young Children

Children under seven are suspended from classrooms at an alarming rate in Connecticut for behavioral outbursts. This happens without proper planning to address the emotions causing these outbursts, and without consideration for how this will impact their schooling. Keeping students in the classroom is vital to a supportive and successful community. In order to do so effectively, we must ban exclusionary discipline and increase social-emotional learning and mental health resources in our schools.  Exclusionary discipline, including suspension and expulsion, removes or excludes a student from their usual educational setting or learning environment, and is often a result of behavioral outbursts

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Free Parking Isn’t Really Free

Our love affair with the automobile depends on one thing:  free parking.  After driving on our “free” highways, we have to park someplace, and we all hate to pay for what’s really a privilege.  It’s as if there’s some constitutional right to free parking. But free parking is actually expensive and paid for in more than just dollars. The industry standards setting group known as the Institute of Transportation Engineers (ITE) has defined 266 different types of businesses and has determined the amount of nearby parking they require.  So when your local Planning & Zoning Commission is looking at proposals for, say, a new

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Will Connecticut’s Jump in New Business Registrations Carry Forward into 2022?

Will Accelerating Growth in New Business Registrations Continue in 2022? There’s little question that the prolonged pandemic has disrupted the workplace significantly.  The degree to which that change is accelerated is now becoming clear as data reflects stark differences between what was and what is. Between 2010 and 2020, business registrations in Connecticut increased by an average of 5% per year. In 2021, however, business registrations increased by over 20%, thru the end of November, according to an analysis by the Connecticut Data Collaborative of data filed with the Connecticut Office of Secretary of the State. That dramatic – and

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Open and Transparent Election Security is Non-Negotiable

To the Editor: As we begin a new year, one can’t help but read or hear about “New Year’s Resolutions”. What are we reassessing, what do we want to do better, change and improve? When it comes to government policy and service to citizens, a key area for change is our election security. This is a great place to start for the Connecticut Secretary of State’s office.  This unique office is unlike most other elected offices in our state because it is constitutionally and statutorily bound to serve the interests of all citizens, businesses and state government. It is not,

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It’s Time to Focus on What was Good in 2021

Life’s impossible without viruses. But, Gaia hypotheses aside, 2021 was a grim reminder of our tendencies towards self-destruction. Vaccine-averse pandemic deaths, pervasive climate change disasters, political toxicity, supply-chain bottlenecks and dim-witted insurrectionists were unwanted hallmarks. Erich Maria Remarque, who wrote All Quiet on the Western Front, was correct in saying “human beings are a worse poison than schnapps and tobacco,” adding “the more primitive we are, the more we believe ourselves to be.” Yet, however Cassandra curses dog us scientists and social critics’ writings project dissatisfaction (as Dickens, Sinclair, Orwell and Huxley once did), it’s time to focus on what

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Lamont Has Continued the Downward Slide of the State

To the Editor: Governor Lamont has yet again proven he is an incompetent figure head.  The most recent example of his lack of vision and leadership ability is his failure to deliver on his promise to provide 500,000 sets of COVID home test kits this week. The Governor never secured the kits.  Who will be fired as a result of this failure to execute? His abysmal approval ratings pre-Covid (less than 30%) were improved by daily press briefings where questions posing anything other than sycophantic, figurative air-kisses were non-existent from the lapdog press in Connecticut. COVID question responses are not a substitute for

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The Big Apple Exodus to Connecticut Never Happened and Here’s Why

The suburban myth of a mass exodus from a virus-plagued New York City to the supposedly safe environs of Connecticut died with the recent release of Census Bureau interstate migration data. While New York State lost over 400,000 residents to other states from April 2020 to July 2021, Connecticut attracted a mere 226 net new residents from other states. Incoming New Yorkers were offset by outgoing Nutmeggers. And that’s the good part. Connecticut’s labor force plummeted by 100,000, or more than 5%, from February 2020 through November 2021, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Only two state workforces

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It’s Time to Put Children First

The New York Times woke up this week to the biggest underreported story of 2021.  Children are in crisis across the country as a direct consequence of Covid-19 protocols.  As I wrote back in September, the CT Department of Education (only one among many states to issue such findings) issued a report detailing student outcomes on tests run by the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium. Not surprisingly, the results indicate that students in Grades 3- 8 who were in-person for 75 percent or more of their classes last year outperformed those in hybrid models and significantly outperformed those who were fully

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Traffic Reporter Tom Kaminski

Tom Kaminski is like an omniscient guardian angel, floating in the heavens and keeping motorists in the tri-state area safe from motoring mayhem. For 34 years Kaminski has been a traffic reporter for WCBS 880 radio, heading a team of producers, spotters and tipsters covering traffic and transit from his vantage point 1500 feet above the city in the station’s Bell 206 helicopter. Most of the time he’s in the chopper, but always with a pilot and, more recently, a camera operator for his twice hourly updates for PIX-11 TV.  Six times each hour (“on the 8’s”) from 5:30 am

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‘Be Smart, Be Kind, Stay Safe’

Newshounding is a word nigh extinct nowadays, with the word reporting instead holding sway. That’s OK, but ya can’t take the newshound out of some oldsters, particularly those who like me wrote for newspapers back in the day, as we graysters like to say. Write tight, get it right, keep in mind you’re writing for the reader not for yourself, a New London Day editor named Ray Rankin wisely advised me when a cub reporter under his wing I was way back in ’68. He could see that there was nothing I liked better than brazenly and boldly treeing some

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What Are PUMAs and Why Do They Matter?

A term that few are familiar with is worth some attention in the coming weeks, as Connecticut’s population is divvied up into what are known in technical jargon as Public Use Microdata Areas, or PUMAs. PUMAs are geographies that include multiple towns and allow the public to access data for an entire region that is not available in other ways. This data is called Public Use Microdata (PUMs). The data allows people to analyze relationships between economic, demographic, or housing variables, or create new measures that aren’t included in the standard American Community Survey data tables, released periodically by the

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Norm Needleman on the New Year

As 2021 crawls to a close, many of us are likely saying the same thing we did last year: “good riddance, bring on the next one.” To say this most recent year was challenging would be an understatement. While a lot has changed for the better – the majority of our state has protection from the worst outcomes of COVID-19, our economy is clawing back by the day and Connecticut is well-poised for future success – it can be easy to dismiss 2021 as a rough year. That’s not entirely true, though. I’ll remember 2021 as a year full of

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CT Examiner’s Emilia Otte on the New Year

If 2020 was a tsunami that made the world hunker down and take cover, then spring and summer of 2021 could be called the period when the waters started to recede.  And after the euphoria that comes from climbing out of a bunker and realizing that yes, you are alive and intact, comes the realization of the wreckage that surrounds you. The mess that needs to be cleaned up. And for anyone who has ever been in a flood, you know that the residue is filthy, disgusting, and even toxic.  A few days ago, I was reading an essay written

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CT Examiner’s Brendan Crowley on Local News Reporting

When someone thanks me for covering an issue in a particular town, it brings up conflicting feelings.  It’s always nice when someone says they appreciate our work — but often when someone says, “Thank you for covering x,” they mean that if CT Examiner didn’t, nobody would.  I’ve read past clips from the Hartford Courant or Hearst covering local issues in Preston or Killingworth. That’s rare now as reporters hustle to make up for the work of all the journalists who have been laid off through the years.  There are hard-working reporters in all of these legacy newsrooms who are

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Cate Hewitt Looks to the New Year.

2021 was a year of trying to return to pre-pandemic times — back when masks were unnecessary, social distancing was an unknown term, and no one questioned whether it was safe to gather with family at the holidays.  It became a year of developing a “risk budget” to assess how safe an event or place will be because, as a friend recently said, “We cannot predict the future arcs of Covid surges, and we cannot control the caution levels of other people.” I’ve been cautious since the pandemic began. I wore a mask indoors at town meetings and the grocery

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