Letter: Questions Piketty as Basis for Income Inequality Arguments

I am no PhD in economics – only a mere BA – plus a MBA and 43 years in banking. I will grant Mr. Cunningham the observation that Mr. Gramm and Mr. Early have reached conclusions that are (likely) based on their political underpinnings. However Mr. Cunningham makes a similar error, in citing Thomas Piketty. Mr. Piketty’s magnum opus, “Capital in the 21st Century”, has been widely panned, as was noted by Marshall Steinbaum in “Why Are Economists Giving Piketty the Cold Shoulder,” Boston Review, May 12, 2017. “Lawrence Blume and Steven Durlauf wrote, “Capital [the noted book] is, nonetheless,

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Opinion: Vanishing Inequality, the Devil’s Greatest Trick

One of my favorite movies is the 1995 whodunit “The Usual Suspects.”  The last line of the film has always stuck with me: “The greatest trick the devil ever pulled was convincing the world he didn’t exist.”  This line originated in a book on Quakerism from 1834 in which John Wikinson wrote, “One of the artifices of Satan is, to induce men to believe that he does not exist.” Phil Gramm and John Early have apparently decided to ape this trick.  Their recent op-ed in the Wall Street Journal includes “author’s calculations” implying that our country isn’t really very unequal

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Opinion: The Surprising Income Equality in America

This is a column about a column. On November 4, 2019, the Wall Street Journal published a column entitled “The Truth About Income Inequality,” by Phil Gramm, former U.S. Senator from Texas, and John Early, twice Assistant Commissioner of the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The column makes a convincing case that the U.S. enjoys remarkable income equality –  not inequality. This reality flies in the face of the almost universal belief that the U.S. suffers from gross income inequality, which notion serves as the foundation of all the extravagant proposals from one side of the political spectrum, ranging from

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Opinion: We Owe It To Public Health to Take Action on Vaping

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Late last month, I joined State Representative Jesse MacLachlan and prominent community leaders in Clinton for a panel discussion on vaping. I only wish we scheduled it sooner. In recent months, vaping and associated injuries and deaths have become a pressing issue. We must take it seriously and protect public health. As of November 1, more than three dozen vaping-related cases of lung disease and injury were reported to the state Department of Public Health, part of a national trend of more than 1,800 injuries and 37 deaths. Vaping experts are currently studying and searching for answers as to what’s

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Opinion: On Fixing Connecticut’s Budget

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Connecticut citizens wonder why the state can’t get its budget act together. Why is Connecticut’s infrastructure crumbling when improvements are supposed to be funded by the gas tax? Why can’t we get our heads — or budgets — around healthcare that works for everybody. Our public pensions are grossly underfunded. We’re backsliding when it comes to children and family welfare. All we ever hear is that our young entrepreneurs are leaving the state, and the cost of living continues to rise. All of this is significantly impacted by the way Connecticut budgets. In my 18 years in the General Assembly

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Editorial: Recapping Election Week

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Monday morning — I hadn’t gotten in to work yet — instead I was out on a rocky overlook at Selden Creek Preserve chatting on the phone with State Auditor John Geragosian about the Connecticut Port Authority audit. He was reassuring. While not characterizing the contents of the referral to the Connecticut Office of the Attorney General, he emphasized that a referral was statutory requirement and routine… don’t read too much into it. Geragosian said had no complaints about the remaining board and staff, whom he described as helpful and responsive. Two days later, a Wednesday, in a meeting room

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Letter: Needleman Thanks Essex Volunteers and Voters

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We are honored that Essex voters have given me another opportunity to serve the town we all love. It is gratifying that so many of our fellow citizens exercised their right to choose the officials who will help sustain and improve the quality of life in Essex. Our names were on the ballot, but many other people helped make this election a success for us and for all of the candidates endorsed by the Essex Democratic Town Committee. To those who volunteered their time and resources, we am deeply grateful.  Your energy and commitment are essential to keeping our community

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Letter: As if Nothing Happened

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When you decide whom to vote for as First Selectman in Old Lyme tomorrow, I suspect like me that choice starts with your faith in your candidate’s truthfulness and prior demonstration of sound judgment.  Our First Selectwoman has repeatedly shown poor judgment on issues ranging from the HOPE Affordable Housing Project to the integration of Old Lyme’s Police with the East Lyme Police Department.  Other examples are legion.  But if you aren’t aware of those ill-wrought initiatives and you still are considering your decision, you really should read the recent State of Connecticut’s independent audit of the Connecticut Port Authority. 

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Letter: Candidate Steven Wilson Makes the Case for Moderation and Change in Old Lyme

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I know this is very last minute but after speaking to so many Old Lyme residents who are still “undecided,” I felt compelled to speak. I was asked to run for the Lyme-Old Lyme Board of Education over the summer. As a 15-year weekend/summer resident and a new full-time resident, I eagerly accepted the opportunity to serve the community that has served my family and me for so long. With two children enrolled in the Lyme-Old Lyme High School, I have a vested interest in participating in the decisions that affect us all. That said, I am still a relatively

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Opinion: A Legal Movement to Address Animal Cruelty and Prevent Mass Shootings

He dragged the screaming dog down the trailer park road beating him around the head and neck while repeatedly slamming him to the ground. It was 2014 in Colorado Springs, Colorado. Eyewitnesses called the police and he was arrested. He claimed he was breaking up a non-existent dog fight and he was let go after paying a fine. His name is Devlin Kelly. Three years later Mr. Kelly showed up at a Baptist church in Texas with a gun and killed 26 people — half of whom were children — and wounded 20. In the wake of such mass shootings,

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Letter: Holding the Elected Accountable in East Lyme

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I would like to publicly thank both Mary Biekert of The Day and Chris McDermott of the CT Examiner for their accurate reporting on East Lyme. I also have great appreciation for Lisa Picarazzi for her courage to share her personal experience as Vice Chairperson of the BoF and a Finance member on the PSB Vision Committee in the CT Examiner.  Accurate information allows the rest of us to determine and comment on implications and consequences based in both past events and emerging facts. By definition, “politics” is what determines the quality of our day-to-day lives. As citizens, many of

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Letter: Tinnerello Makes Case for Zoning Seat in Old Lyme, Emphasizes Balance, Transparency

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As a resident and realtor in Old Lyme I have decided to run for Zoning Commission. As a realtor, I understand the balancing act between the town’s interests and private property rights. Old Lyme characteristics make us long-time environmentalists — water, beaches, wetlands, woods. Zoning should honor these unique assets without stifling planned growth and development. I am a results-oriented problem solver who can manage complex issues. I have experience with managing many stakeholder viewpoints which often require compromise. I intend to make thoughtful decisions while always keeping an eye on the long-term effects they have on our town’s character

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Letter: East Lyme’s Public Safety Building Undertaking is a Needed and Positive Endeavor

The citizens of East Lyme have heard and read many thoughts and opinions concerning efforts to provide our Police Department, Dispatch, Fire Marshal and Emergency Operations Center (EOC) a professional and efficient co-located work space.  Some of these thoughts and opinions have been more destructive than constructive.  The official task of the East Lyme Public Safety Building Vision Committee is to select an architectural firm and work with that firm to design the needed work space within the $5M budget the tax payers approved.  The Vision Committee has been collaboratively working to accomplish this goal and plans to continue to

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Editorial: 5 Questions, a Possible Criminal Referral, 220k in “Contributions from Developers”

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In case you didn’t know, an audit of the Connecticut Port Authority for fiscal years ending in 2018 and 2019 was released on October 31 — a Thursday. The timing was not a surprise – give or take a day – after State Comptroller Kevin Lembo (who has come across pretty darn well in this whole mess) gave the CPA just three days – until Friday, November 1 — to explain why the authority had failed to release accurate financials to his office.  The “incomplete” accounting of expenditures  – among other failings – were acknowledged in an October 18 letter

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Letter: Missing Building Inspection Raises Questions in East Lyme

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Time for me to step out.  I had hoped The Day would do the right thing in East Lyme’s First Selectman race and give the nod to Camille Alberti.  But their endorsement, albeit very weak, went to Mark Nickerson, “despite his missteps.”  Incumbents really do have the advantage, regardless of performance, don’t they? My name is Lisa Picarazzi and I am the vice chair of the Board of Finance (BOF) and a member of the Public Safety Building Vision Committee (PSB).  I was appointed to this committee to ensure YOUR tax dollars are not mismanaged.  Sorry to tell you all,

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Letter: How the Politics of Sewers Impacts One Old Lyme Family

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Originally the scope of the sewer project in Old Lyme — as determined by the Old Lyme Water Pollution Control Authority and DEEP — included the public beaches of Sound View, White Sands Beach and Hawks Nest. The private beaches were already marching forward.  At the October 2014 meeting of the Old Lyme WPCA, as a result of a motion raised by Mr. Prendergast, White Sands was removed from the project, citing cost. Area B (near the railroad tracks) was subsequently added. The estimated cost to sewer the three Sound View public streets – Portland Ave, Hartford Ave and Swan Ave

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Letter: Private-Public Partnerships Offer Opportunities for East Lyme

While many of us have all heard of mixed-use development for commercial and residential properties, most have not learned of private-public partnerships for mixed-use development. This could be very valuable in times of fiscal challenges which include uncertainty in state municipal funding, rising costs of facility construction, renovation and acquisition. This concept entails initiation of collaborations or agreements between municipal governments and private enterprises which allows private property to remain on the tax rolls while providing utilization of these spaces by local governments either through lease/rental contracts or service provision. Additionally, financing and operation of municipal projects may also be applicable under

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Letter: Who Will Run Old Lyme?

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I attended the debate between Bonnie Reemsnyder and Tim Griswold. One issue stood out. Our current Selectwoman continually explores solutions to our problems by going to outside sources. She is content to have East Lyme, New London, New Haven, and Hartford address our problems and manage our community. Tim Griswold believes in the people of our town. Your friends and your neighbors. Tim acknowledges our town is unique, and we the people of Old Lyme are well equipped to solve our problems. Policing, affordable housing, and Halls Road are all examples of outsiders being courted to change Old Lyme versus

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Letter: Griswold Offers Measured Leadership to Challenges Facing Old Lyme

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There are many reason to support Tim Griswold for first selectman of Old Lyme, but here are three issues that I believe we should carefully consider before voting in the November 5 election. Halls Road For 5 years, the current administration has outsourced Halls Road improvements to an ad-hoc “Halls Road Improvement Committee” with no results except for a cost of $40,000 paid to the Yale School of Urban Design (YSUD).  Alan Plattus, of the YSUD, stated in a public meeting that: “Halls Road is Broken.” I think that couldn’t be further from the truth.  Halls Road, specifically the Old

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Letter: Judge Politicians by Actions not Words

The proverb “talk is cheap” is more than 150 year old. It should be familiar to we New Englanders. The expression can be found in a 1843 fiction entitled Attache, written by T. C. Halliburton, whose Yankee character Sam Slick encouraged a minister to “[t]alk to these friends of ourn, they might think you considerable starch if you don’t talk, and talk is cheap.” These days, not only is political talk cheap but it is also unreliable, perhaps more unreliable than at any other time in American history. Increasingly you are better off ignoring what a politician says and just

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Letter: Griswold Makes Case for Old Lyme First Selectman

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After serving 14 years as Old Lyme’s First Selectman through 2011, I am running again to lead the town.  At our Republican caucus in July, we had excellent candidates for all open positions, save that of First Selectman.  Within days, news broke that our current First Selectwoman, who was the long-standing chair of the finance committee and then chairwoman of the board of the Connecticut Port Authority, was involved with serious problems there.  I felt compelled to run for First Selectman to challenge my opponent’s ethically-challenged leadership.  I undertook a petition drive and gathered twice the amount of signatures required.

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On Denying Old Lyme Residents a Meeting by Petition

I can’t say that I’ve ever heard of a town in Connecticut denying residents the right to petition for a special meeting. In Old Lyme, at least, it’s not often that this quaint provision of small-town New England democracy is ever even attempted. I can’t cite a case when it’s been abused. To be sure, Connecticut General Statutes set a notably low legal bar – the petition of “twenty inhabitants qualified to vote in town meetings” – to hold the selectmen duty-bound to honor the request. So, it demands some legal explanation, when sixty-one residents of Old Lyme petition the

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Letter: A Conversation That Needs To Occur

I attended the debate Wednesday evening between Bonnie Reemsnyder and Tim Griswold. In listening carefully, one issue stood out like a sore thumb: Our First Selectwoman repeatedly claimed that recent actions taken by the Town were only conversations based on input from her constituents – the people of Old Lyme. She addressed the questions on Affordable Housing, the Halls Road Improvement Plan, and amalgamating the Old Lyme Police with the East Lyme Police Department in this manner. She kept saying: These were conversations that needed to occur. If you attended the debate or see it televised later and are not

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Letter: Establish Priorities and Pursue those with Vigor, says Selectman Chris Kerr

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We have spent a lot of time in Old Lyme discussing many big, important and impacting initiatives:  Large plans for Halls Road privately-owned businesses, apartments at I-95 and Route 156 intersection, sewers at Soundview, and merging police with East Lyme, among other issues.  I am asking for your vote November 5th to bring back honest discussion at the start of town initiatives. I strongly support: Halls Road improvements that can get done soon:  sidewalks, crosswalks, planted traffic islands, improved sign guidelines and accommodating zoning.  I do NOT believe the government should act as a master developer of land they do

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Editorial: A Lesson On Quasi-Publics and Tolling

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By any measure I should be an easy ‘get’ for the Lamont administration on transportation. Months ago I actually penned an opinion piece for CT Mirror advocating for the new administration’s signature transportation project to speed travel times to 30 minutes by rail between paired cities: Hartford and New Haven, New Haven and Stamford, Stamford and New York City. As opposition blossomed across Connecticut to the governor’s support for tolling, I sat on the fence — attracted by the idea of capturing out-of-state dollars, but wary of overhead, accountability and what could be construed as a near perfect clawback of

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Editorial: A News Roundup and 5 Questions on Doubling the Shoreline Setback in Old Lyme

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At September 9 meeting of the Town of Old Lyme Zoning Commission, board members introduced a text amendment – what board secretary Jane Marsh described as a “new philosophy” – to address “a trend of the coastline advancing on our town.” This amendment would do two things: Increase the setback for new construction to 100 feet, doubling the current setback of 50 feet. Prohibit the Zoning Board of Appeals from granting a variance. “Because that’s what the Zoning Board of Appeals is — it’s an individual, case-by-case basis. That might sound good but it results in a patchwork of outcomes,”

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On Party Politics and Ground Rules for CT Examiner’s Political Coverage

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On Monday, October 14, CT Examiner will roll out its local campaign coverage for the region beginning with the race for First Selectman of Essex. Reporters Cate Hewitt, Julia Werth and Christopher McDermott have spoken to dozens of Democratic and Republican candidates in competitive races across the region from Stonington to Essex. That’s night and day from Old Lyme, where — with notable exceptions of Jim Lampos and Jane Cable who sat for interviews — every other Democratic candidate we asked declined to be interviewed (most frankly didn’t respond at all) that includes Sarah W. Bowman, Jason L. Kemp, and

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A Call For Connecticut Port Authority Hearings

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If you believe in the ability of government to accomplish great good – think Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid — then it’s incumbent on you, when you see government misbehaving, to hold it accountable. To say that accountability has been lacking in the case of the Connecticut Port Authority is an understatement. If you think you know why the quasi-public agency, with oversight over millions of dollars of public money, all but dissolved this past summer, you are mistaken. Even David Kooris, the current acting chair of the port authority, by his own account has never once met with the

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Letter: Focus on Region 4 Superintendent “misplaced and distracting.”

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To the Editor: Singling out newly-hired Superintendent Brian White as the focal point for your editorial about Region 4’s finances is misplaced and distracting. (“Hard look at Region 4” September 29. 2019.)   Mr. White became superintendent of Region 4 Schools in July 2019 (only three months ago) when Dr. Ruth Levy retired after 11 years in office with two years remaining under her current contract. By the time of his arrival, the district had also changed facilities directors, business managers and many board members from those involved in the Mislick property purchase and decisions about capital accounting. So it

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A Hard look at Region 4 — Essex, Chester and Deep River

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Perhaps you don’t live in Essex, Chester, or Deep River and have decided to skip over Julia Werth’s remarkably damning news story detailing years of failure to follow state law and to exercise adequate financial oversight, both by the superintendent and the school board. Well don’t. If ever there was a learning moment, it would be a forensic analysis of how the Region 4 school district managed to spend more than $379,000 on a piece of property, without a public vote as required by law and without having money set aside to pay for it. We’ll have more on that

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