Americans Unflinchingly Repeat the Same Mistakes

EU citizens are astonished that the world’s most powerful, yet counterintuitive nation can be so logically and socially incoherent, that Americans unflinchingly repeat the same mistakes responsible for past surges of COVID-19. Reopening before herd immunity’s attained, riotous spring-breakers, and inconsistent mask-wearing and social distancing support their conundrum. Super-spreader events and anti-vaccination rants convince the rest of the world that Americans care little about others and even less about themselves. With 600,000 U.S. pandemic deaths imminent, words like “fragile” and “heedless” keep resonating. Europeans point to the Trump administration’s restrained pandemic response, demonstrators clamoring to “open up,” and Dr. Birx’

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A Conversation with the Commissioner

“Getting There”  by  Jim Cameron        Joe Giulietti loves to talk, especially about trains.  As Commissioner of the Connecticut Department of Transportation when he calls me and say “Jim… let’s have a chat”, I’m all ears.  In a recent exclusive one-on-one, here’s what he said: WILL RAIL COMMUTERS COME BACK? The Commissioner says yes, but maybe not until the fall.  “Am I optimistic?  I have to be. The disappointing fact right now is we (still) only have 10% of (pre-COVID) ridership.  The trains we have now can meet (that) demand.  If ridership increases we can add more. ” ARE THE TRAINS SAFE?

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Under Guise of ‘Protecting’ Women’s Sports, Efforts Put Transgender Youth at Risk.

I’m writing in response to a letter published in the Connecticut Examiner on Tuesday, March 30, that attempts to lay out an argument against the Equality Act. To put it mildly, the letter was ignorant. To put it truthfully, the letter was transphobic and abusive.  The author attempts to frame his argument as essential in order to protect young girls, mothers, and the homeless, but instead shines a light on an abusive narrative that is attacking children across not only Connecticut, but everywhere in the U.S.  The issue, to the author at least, is about transgender girls and women infiltrating

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Error Distorts Public Employee Pension Debate

In 2015, the Malloy administration commissioned a study of Connecticut’s State Employees Retirement System (SERS) by the Center for Retirement Research, a prominent pension research institute. While the Center’s report was well done and most of its recommendations were adopted by the state, the Center miscalculated the level of employee pension benefits, saying they were not “overly generous.” They were and, today, still are overgenerous.  The Center’s error has distorted subsequent debate about state employee compensation, the origins of the drastic underfunding of SERS, and the high cost to the state of pension benefits, as the state’s annual contribution to

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‘Extremism in Defense of Liberty’ if Devoid of Truth and Ethics, is Definitely a Vice.

Homegrown terrorism keeps metastasizing, spreading through America’s lymphatic and cardiovascular systems as rightwing radio, social media and television. Faced with our greatest domestic challenge since the Civil War, finding solutions for combating QAnon, neo-Nazi white supremacist groups and anti-government militias is not unlike curtailing Boko Haram, Al-Qaida, and the Taliban. Limit their outreach and growth, and determine what makes extremist propaganda so alluring: a tall order given that American law enforcement is limited by freedom-of-speech. As a result, anything the Biden administration does to mitigate domestic terrorism will reinforce narratives of politically-motivated censorship. Thusly, without accompanying moral clarity, liberty and

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Equality Act a ‘Monumental Gesture of Overreach’

In the name of equality Joe Courtney has single handedly led an assault on young girls, at-risk mothers, religious institutions and on each and every voter from Groton to Vernon, from Connecticut to California. In a monumental gesture of overreach, Representative Joe Courtney co-sponsored one of the most destructive and dangerous legislations in decades. Representative Courtney wants to add ‘Gender Identity’ to the wording of the 2019 Equality Act legislation. Sounds benign, doesn’t it? Nobody wants to see discrimination against any group. But here is what Americans are not being told. The current Equality Act, as co-sponsored by Joe Courtney,

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Defending Red Jahncke: Public Sector Employees And Their Preferential Treatment

Sean Goldrick got a lot wrong in his letter “Taxpayers Are Getting a Bargain with Public Employee Compensation,” written in response to Red Jahncke’s recent column entitled “Lamont’s Budget: A Game of ‘Caps,’ Except for The Privileged Few.” I’d start with a subject that Red Jahncke did not even address: private sector employment. Mr Goldrick says that, under Governors Malloy and Lamont, “private sector employment hit new all-time highs.” True, it hit 1,467,000 in December 2018, topping the previous high of 1,461,700 on March 2008 – yes, Malloy created a stunning 5,300 new jobs over an entire decade! There has

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Markley: Claimed Savings Rest on an Outrageous Assumption

In a lengthy recent letter to the editor (entitled “Taxpayers Are Getting a Bargain with Public Employee Compensation”) Sean Goldrick charges that a February column by Red Jahncke (“Lamont’s Budget: A Game of ‘Caps,’ Except for The Privileged Few”) presents “a fallacy based on falsehoods.” In fact, the fallacies and falsehoods are in Goldrick’s own piece.  One I can rebut from direct experience.  I was serving in the Connecticut state senate in 2017, when then-governor Dannel Malloy claimed that the state employee contract he negotiated that year saved the state $24 billion, including $9.7 in wage savings. Jahncke’s column focused

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Employee Costs and Pensions are driving Connecticut Toward Insolvency

Sean Goldrick got it wrong with his letter last week under a headline of “’Gravy train’ for CT employees is a false narrative,” in response to a recent column by the esteemed Red Jahncke, entitled “There can be no ‘Connecticut Comeback’ Without Union Concessions.”   Goldrick states Jahncke offered no source for his true statement that, “for more than a decade, state employee compensation has exceeded compensation in Connecticut’s private sector by about 40 percent, the biggest gap in the nation.” Then, Goldrick says that Jahncke’s statement “likely came from” a 2015 study by the Yankee Institute.  Goldrick is wrong on

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Taxpayers Are Getting a Bargain with Public Employee Compensation

Red Jahncke claims that “the long-festering enormous problem of overly generous” benefits to state employees makes a “Connecticut Comeback” impossible.  Only by stopping the “gravy train” of “wildly overgenerous” benefits by slashing public sector compensation can Connecticut’s economy rebound.  But Jahncke’s premise is a fallacy based on falsehoods so blatant it’s shocking it’s difficult to understand why it was ever published. Claiming they receive “dramatically overgenerous pension benefits,” Jahncke questions, “Why not reduce the benefits to national average levels?”  In fact, the definitive 2015 study of the state employees pension system (SERS) by consultants from the Center for Retirement Research

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Part II: A ‘Comeback’ Requires the Biggest Response in Decades

Editor’s note: This is the second in a series of three editorials, by Red Jahncke and UWA Region 9 President Michael Holmes, debating the state budget and the issue of state employee compensation. The series follows the classic format of point, counterpoint and brief rebuttal. Jahncke provides initial remarks. Holmes is given 3 days to respond. Jahncke is then was given 1 day for a brief rebuttal. When I first saw Governor Lamont’s proposed “comeback” budget, I was deeply concerned. While there aren’t obvious cuts splattered across his proposal, deep inside you can still see the overwhelming slant towards the

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Part I: Lamont’s Budget: A Game of ‘Caps,’ Except for The Privileged Few

Editor’s note: This is the first in a series of three editorials, by Red Jahncke and UWA Region 9 President Michael Holmes, debating the state budget and the issue of state employee compensation. The series follows the classic format of point, counterpoint and brief rebuttal. Jahncke provides initial remarks. Holmes is given 3 days to respond. Jahncke is then was given 1 day for a brief rebuttal. Governor Lamont unveiled his proposed Connecticut Comeback budget last week.  A comeback is unlikely given the long-festering problem of overgenerous and woefully underfunded compensation for privileged state employees. Yet, politicians in Hartford won’t

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Halls Road Committee Reflects on New Plans for a Gas Station in Old Lyme

Members of the Halls Road Improvements Committee (HRIC) have heard from many Old Lyme residents opposed to the building of another gas station along Halls Road. HRIC is also opposed to this project, and we hope this posting will clarify the committee’s position on the matter. HRIC has no authority to approve or forbid particular projects. The committee is working with BSC to create a new master plan that will guide future development along Halls Road. When it is complete later this spring, its findings must be reflected in new zoning ordinances in order to become enforceable by the zoning

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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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We’ve Granted Exemptions Before, Why Not Here?

The WPCA has spent several years designing a sewer system based on gravity feed but is finally realizing that gravity will not be sufficient to service certain properties in Sound View/Area B, hence the late introduction of grinder pumps (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c1rIJn0Nq6c&t=1902s). The suggestion is that individual property owners will bear the long-term cost of maintenance for those pumps, in addition to a rather significant sewer tax.   In addition, the WPCA is now proposing that several properties abandon their working wells.  A triple whammy for a few owners. Well abandonment and grinder pumps, were not part of the design when Old Lyme

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How to Save Metro-North

How are we going to get riders back on the trains and save Metro-North from ballooning deficits, potential service cuts or fare hikes?  That’s the question I crowd-sourced on social media last week and found dozens of great answers! Most respondents said they won’t be commuting as much as before because they will continue working from home. It’s not that they are shunning the rails out of fear,  just that commuting won’t be necessary. “Most of us have figured out how to work without riding a train every day”, one rider opined. A few cynics said mass transit is dead. 

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Our Infrastructure Can’t Withstand 21st Century Challenges

Three years ago, as temperatures in Sydney, Adelaide and Hobart, Tasmania topped 117º F, Australian roads melted and buckled like cardboard suitcases. Last month, the fragility of America’s electrical grid became apparent when Texas and the Deep South experienced severe winter storms, at least by Dixieland standards. Resulting power outages and water main bursts served notice how, in a light-flicker, industrialized nations, with infrastructures ill-equipped for climate change, turn Stone Age. Because Lone Star utilities failed to use low-viscosity, synthetic lubricants in wind turbines, as troubleshooters do up north, propellers froze. Instruments at nuclear and coal-fired power plants iced over

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Explicit Consent for Pelvic and Prostate Exams: A Case for CT House Bill 5067

Fifteen states (including New York, Virginia, and California) have laws requiring explicit consent for intimate medical exams, and seven states including Connecticut and Massachusetts are proposing such laws this year. Connecticut’s bill has been proposed for the last three years but has never made it out of the Public Health Committee despite many calls for a public hearing. On March 30 at 7 pm, CT Rep. Josh Elliott will host a public conversation for both legislators and members of the public to shine a light on this important topic. Medical distrust is hard to heal. It may linger for generations,

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Instead of Undermining Responsible Town Government, Hartford Democrats Should Cede Authority to Towns

Give it to Connecticut Democrats They never give up. They are determined to diminish local government to a status of virtual triviality in the name of progressivism and in their unquenchable thirst for ever more state tax revenue. This legislative session, the Democrats want to impose progressive statewide zoning provisions that would virtually eliminate local authority over residential housing. In a second blow to housing and another blow to municipalities, the Democrats, led by Senate President Pro Tem Martin Looney, want to levy a statewide property tax. The very proposal demonstrates why local control should be defended at all costs.

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AN OPEN LETTER TO THE BOARD OF REGENTS

We, undersigned CSU Professors from Central, Eastern, Southern, and Western Connecticut State University, believe that it is our responsibility and moral obligation to speak up on behalf and in support of our faculty colleagues and our students, and to express our deepest concerns about the harmful consequences that the contract proposals by the BOR currently under negotiation will have on our students, our four institutions, and the future workforce of our state. We would like to emphasize three areas that we deem as the most adversely affected by the proposal: (1) academic freedom and its relationship to teaching quality, (2)

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Kudos to Guilford Schools for Curriculum Change to Address Issues of Racism

Kudos to the Guilford Public Schools for addressing issues around racism as we navigate changing times. This is important work. Growing up in Guilford during the Civil rights era, I learned in school about consequential legislation like the Civil Rights Act and the Voting Rights Act, but we never fully addressed racial equity. The horrors of Jim Crow made it “easy” to be for Civil Rights for Blacks, because we treated it as a Southern problem. In those days, we overlooked our own complicity in perpetuating racism. Today’s Guilford Public Schools (GPS) curriculum is finally facing the necessary but uncomfortable

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Our Children Have the Right to Attend School Without Fear

In my twenty-five year role as the Executive Director of a vaccine advocacy organization, I have met untold numbers of heartbroken families who have lost their babies and children to diseases that could have been prevented through vaccinations.  Thankfully, the legislators of Connecticut clearly recognize that vaccine preventable diseases can have a devastating impact on families, as well as the overall health of our communities, which is why they have raised legislation to keep our children safe in schools.  S.B. 568 & H.B. 6423 were the topic of a recent Public Health Committee’s hearing, where testimony was offered during a

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Support Existing Restaurants, Not a Huge Monster Venue

I have lived on the shoreline since 1997. I have seen many restaurants come and go  I am a frequent patron of owner operated restaurants and support small mom and pop stores and businesses. I am disgusted that all these big box stores and internet. Walmart Cosco Amazon are laughing while they gobble up the 70% of small business that help our economy churn. Especially those that have started businesses long before these large box stores to save a couple dimes. The shoreline does not need a 300 capacity venue with tents and portable toilets. And so close to our

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The Purpose of Government is Not to Find Ever More Sources of Revenue

State Senate Pro Tem Martin M. Looney, D-New Haven, recently proposed a new tax on Connecticut homeowners, at least those who live in houses with a marketable value above $430,000. It is being called a “mansion tax,” which belies the fact that the median home in Connecticut is (or was in 2019) valued at $359,000. Since there are 1,500,000 housing units in the state, that means a lot of people are going to see their property taxes go up, and Connecticut is already ranked third highest in the country in that regard. The State is already stressed: high taxes, high

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Replacing Open Space with Another Gas Station is No Improvement

I am writing to oppose the proposed Big Y Express gas station and convenience store complex on Halls Road in Old Lyme.  Old Lyme has a year-round population of approximately 8000 residents (per oldlyme-ct.gov), which has recently increased as populations have transitioned from dense urban areas to the suburbs.  Old Lyme is a desirable destination thanks to the great school system, picturesque natural environment, and high standard of living.  Nobody is moving here for our gas stations or convenient marts, and the damage to the rural character at a key entrance to town should not be ignored.   According to fueleconomy.gov, the number

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Half-Earth Gives the “tree of life” at Least a Fighting Chance

Saved on my old Dell, CD-RWs and, more recently, a flash drive as failsafe is a 660-page tome I’ve been writing for years. Referenced to the point of overkill, it’s a heavily-cited compilation of environmental ethics and moral philosophy, delving into humanity’s destructive bent. I began writing it the first day I retired, over a decade ago. Although back-burnered in recent years, I could easily add another six or seven hundred pages. Surely, as Texas and Mississippi lift mask mandates, I’d be remiss not to include a chapter on stupidity prolonging the pandemic. But, for any realistic chance at publication,

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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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Urge Legislators to Support Aid for the Terminally Ill

The Connecticut legislature will soon be voting on a humane and badly needed bill that offers an option for patients diagnosed as terminally ill with a life expectancy of six months or less. A patient may ask his or her doctor to prescribe life-ending medication that may be ingested to end suffering, if and when the patient chooses. Modeled on legislation that has been effective in Oregon for 23 years, the bill provides protection for patients and doctors who decide to participate. Nine states and Washington DC have similar legislation. There has been no evidence of violations, abuse or undesirable expansion and no adverse

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Why not Support Educational Models that Clearly Work?

My family and I have been residents of Bridgeport for approximately two decades now. I am a parent to three children who attended traditional, magnet, and public charter schools in my city and have been advocating vigorously for educational equity in our state for the past 12 years. February 10th was a moment of great joy when I heard the Governor announce his budget proposal to increase our charters’ per pupil funding. It took me back to the many moments we have come before our state elected officials to appeal for equity in funding for our children in public charter

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