Legislative Dems Plotting to Bypass Lamont on Taxes

With Governor Lamont discouraging “broad-based” tax increases, many fellow Democrats in the General Assembly are planning to raise taxes around the edges. Most industrious may be Senate President Pro Tem Martin M. Looney of New Haven. Looney would impose a special state property tax on expensive homes, a “mansion tax,” the revenue to be transferred to his hometown and other troubled cities. Looney also proposes rewriting the formula for state money to municipalities so as to give cities more and suburbs less for properties exempt from property taxes. These proposals and others are based on the premise that the cities

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Understanding ‘Environmental Justice’

It’s not exactly a secret that when city, state and federal governments decide where to route an interstate, site a sewage treatment plant, or build a waste incinerator, it’s most often poorer and less politically advantaged neighborhoods that bear the brunt of the projects. That’s in part why the sewage from Old Lyme’s beach communities, which could be pumped a mile or so west to the Connecticut River, will instead be pumped 15 miles east to New London, where it is treated and released in the Thames River. Likewise, garbage collected in Lyme, Old Lyme and Essex – and 48

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To Defeat Exclusive Zoning, Stop Failing at Poverty

Maybe Connecticut should be grateful to the Desegregate CT organization for having just provided a map detailing how local zoning regulations make it almost impossible to build multifamily housing in most of the state. But didn’t nearly everybody already know that in principle? After all, the roots of exclusive zoning in the state go back to colonial times, when no one was permitted to live in the earliest towns without being approved at a town meeting as an “admitted inhabitant” and anyone who tried to move in without approval was “warned out.” Then as now the objective of this selectivity

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Schools Are Safe, If Not Oases from COVID-19

The evidence is piling up that schoolchildren, teachers and staff are safe in schools. Indeed, the evidence suggests schools are the “safest place” for them to be, as CDC Director Robert Redfield said last November. Yet, teacher unions and other school employee organizations are ignoring mounting evidence that support Redfield’s words. Last week, the Centers for Disease Control released its first two studies of in-school spread of COVID-19, first, a study of the experience of 17 Wisconsin schools that operated in-person from August through November, and, second, a review of reports from around the world about COVID-19 contagion in schools.

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Trading of Water Futures — a Cause for Concern

Human beings, and virtually all other terrestrial animals and plants, need fresh water to live. We are water’s embodiment in myriad forms. But over 97 percent of Earth’s water is toxic to terrestrial organisms because of its salinity, and more than 90 percent of remaining “sweet water,” sufficiently low in sodium to sustain life, is deep underground or solidified as ice sheets and glaciers. A scant 0.0001 percent of the planet’s fresh water is readily accessible. The hydrologic cycle, which allows life-sustaining land-based and non-potable oceanic waters to evaporate, condense again, and fall as snow and rain, helps replenish that

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What Did Gov. Lamont Mean by Failure of Tax Increases?

Addressing an internet meeting of the Connecticut Business and Industry Association a week ago, Governor Lamont made the most remarkable statement of his two years in office. “I have no interest in broad-based tax increases,” Lamont said. “Every governor, Republican or Democrat since, or including, Lowell Weicker has done that and it did not solve the problem.” Of course a few months ago the governor signed into law a broad-based tax increase that took effect three weeks ago: the half-percent increase in the state income tax that is to finance a program of paid family and medical leave, self-insurance that

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Change to Workers’ Comp “Won’t be a Panacea”

I read with interest Anna Elizabeth’s January 30 article about State Senator Cathy Osten’s initiative to expand Workers’ Compensation coverage for mental health conditions. While I haven’t seen the senator’s proposed legislation, I know from my professional experience as a veteran commercial insurance executive that any change won’t be a panacea. As with any Worker’s Compensation claim for an occupational injury or disease, the claimant has the burden of providing the causal relationship between injury and employment. That’s a dicey proposition in the shadowy world of mental health, even in the wake of a definable triggering event. Claimants and insurers alike will

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Lack of Support Wasn’t Due to Legitimate Concerns.

With allegations of voting and election fraud constantly in the news the last few months, stories of dangerous, anti-democratic efforts to impact the November 2020 election continue to permeate the news – with former President Donald Trump leading several efforts. Most recently, Business Insider reported the White House’s Office of Management and Budget delayed efforts to create a poll worker recruitment website for up to a month in July and August 2020, a crucial time gap in the runup to the election. The latest in a string of previously known attempted electoral interference, most prominently Louis DeJoy’s attempted dismantling of

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‘Please Do More Real Homework’

The article about “seniors” 75 and older getting the COVID-19 vaccine within the next two weeks is inaccurate reporting. Most people we know are unable to schedule appointments until March or April. Please do more real homework before distributing such misleading information. Chris & Roddy RooseveltLyme, CT The Editor replies: When Gov. Ned Lamont said at a news conference on Jan. 19, that he expected that individuals 75 and older would receive their first doses of vaccine within two weeks, we reported it. Just five days later, we are aware of a variety of anecdotal reports of speedy and delayed

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America Will Continue to Split Apart until Truth is Paramount

Because of four years’ epic mistakes and mishandling of crises, Joe Biden’s to do list is large. But I’m guardedly optimistic. At long last, we’ll have an overarching, national plan to slow the spread of COVID-19, one which entails federal mandates for mask-wearing and social distancing and aggressively uses the Defense Production Act to cover shortages of critical drugs and personal protective equipment. With once-assured serum reserves seeming a sham, coronavirus vaccine supply chains need immediate resilience, and hospitals, overwhelmed by infection rates, are in dire need of sedatives and neuromuscular blocking agents to help intubated patients on ventilatory support.

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Northeast Maglev

Imagine going from New York City to Washington DC in one hour… not by plane, but by maglev.  By comparison, today the same trip from the LaGuardia to DC’s Reagan airport takes about 90 minutes by air (not counting getting to and from the airports) and costs $276 one way.  On Amtrak’s Acela the fastest run, downtown to downtown, is three hours and costs $157.  Or you could take the bus for $30, assuming you have 4 ½ hours to waste. A maglev is a train, of sorts, that floats on a cushion of air, suspended and propelled along a

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Military-Industrial Complex OK With State’s Delegation

In his farewell address 60 years ago President Dwight D. Eisenhower warned against what he called “unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex.” Since he was a military hero, perhaps only Eisenhower could give such a warning during the Cold War without risking denunciation as a communist. But Eisenhower’s warning has never been heeded, and President Biden, with his nominee for defense secretary, is essentially proclaiming the victory of the military-industrial complex. The new president’s nominee is retired Army Gen. Lloyd Austin, who upon leaving the Army a few years ago joined the Board of Directors of

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You Can’t Change the Landscape Until You Till it Yourself

That collective “Phew” rising up over our fruited plain is the national sigh of relief that the ugly politic season of 2020 is one for the books. Not so fast. We are officially in the year of the Municipal Election. Across Connecticut, hundreds of elected officials are weighing their re-election options. I hope, thousands more are seriously considering a challenge to the status quo. Consider this: despite the vitriol and violence that infected the political landscape throughout 2020, voters returned 94 percent of incumbents to office. Connecticut re-elected 95 percent of its incumbents. The only national branch infused with new

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Unity? Not So Fast

It seems that the 46th President is calling for unity and peace with the seventy-five million plus American citizens who voted for Donald J. Trump.  Not so fast.  Trump and his supporters have endured psychotic rage, slander, obfuscation and, wholesale abuse for four-plus years.  If Biden and his devoted sycophants expect those of us who see Trump as a hero who has lanced the boil of the bile smelling elitist to giggle and give in, they are smoking funny cigarettes. It is not going to happen-not without a mass mea culpa. What is the root of their unprecedented abuse?  Hatred

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Almost Infamous… to Public Sector Union Leaders

I am not famous, but I am somewhat infamous, at least to leaders of two big government unions, the Connecticut State Employees Association (CSEA) and the statewide teachers union, Connecticut Education Association (CEA). In late November, CSEA launched an email membership and fundraising drive with the subject line, “State of CT Retiree Benefits Are Being Threatened.” The email included an excerpt from a mid-October column I wrote entitled “The Looming Crisis in Connecticut,” in which excerpt I warned – not threatened – that, because of the fiscal crisis and the disastrous underfunding of the State Employee Retirement Fund (SERF), “It

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Early Pension is $117,000; and New Hidden Tax Coming

Last week this column examined the government pension racket in Connecticut through the example of the “retirement” of New Haven Police Chief Tony Reyes, who is only 49 and is giving up his city salary of $170,000 to become police chief at Quinnipiac University in adjacent Hamden. Since New Haven City Hall needed a week before it could provide an estimate of the annual pension Reyes immediately will begin receiving, last week’s column surmised it might amount to $80,000. That was low. The city’s budget office now estimates Reyes’ annual pension at $117,000. While Quinnipiac is a nonprofit institution exempt

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No Nation can be a Personality Cult and Function as a Republic as Well

In 1910, long before television’s unveiling at the 1938 World’s Fair, Belgian information expert, Paul Otlet, and Henri La Fontaine imagined a global repository and distribution point for sharing the world’s knowledge. Their vision evolved into the League of Nations’ International Institute of Intellectual Cooperation (forerunner of UNESCO). In 1934, prescient of the World Wide Web, Otlet wrote about a “Radiated Library” connecting TV watchers to encyclopedic knowledge via telephone wires. The idea remained dormant until the 1960s, when J.C.R. Licklider, a psychologist and computer scientist, proposed linking the world’s computers into a network for scientific exchange. In the heart

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Don’t Undo Efforts with False Idea that Schools are Pandemic-Proof

Red Jahncke’s recent column on COVID practices (“Let local school boards make sensible decisions on classroom instruction”) ignores the frightening reality that local decisions are putting entire school communities at risk. Many districts throughout the state are failing to implement safety protocols, jeopardizing the health of students and staff.  The research on COVID case rates in American schools is limited. Filling the data gap are inaccurate claims, such as the notion that schools are somehow safe havens in a pandemic. This kind of magical thinking is endangering students, staff, and entire communities. Contrary to Jahncke’s claim that schoolchildren carry virtually

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New Haven Chief ‘Retires’ at 49 to Pension Bonanza

Everyone agrees that Tony Reyes has been a great police chief in New Haven, having been appointed in March 2019 after nearly two decades of rising through the ranks of the police department. But the city will lose him in a few weeks as he becomes police chief at Quinnipiac University next door in Hamden. This is being called a retirement, but it is that only technically. In fact it is part of an old racket in Connecticut’s government employee pension system, an abuse of taxpayers. Typically police personnel qualify to collect full state government and municipal pensions after 20

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COVID-19 Vaccine Priority Should Include Type 1 Diabetes

As advocates for people with Type 1 Diabetes, we believe it is time to stand up and be sure that the Governor and our elected officials hear us during their allocation prioritization plans of the COVID-19 vaccine. States such as California, New Jersey, Ohio, Tennessee, Texas and Virginia have already made the vaccine available to the T1D community. This summer, Connecticut led in the fight for insulin affordability, and can lead again in protecting our vulnerable community to ensure fewer hospitalizations and save lives. COVID-19 has taken a significant toll on the diabetes community of Connecticut during this pandemic. There

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Keeping Connecticut’s Music Industry Alive

By recently passing the Save Our Stages Act, a bipartisan bill co-sponsored by Connecticut Sens. Richard Blumenthal and Chris Murphy, in its COVID relief package, Congress has temporarily protected The Constitution State’s music industry from economic free fall. But are the courts now willing to do what’s necessary to provide the permanent security it needs and deserves?  The Save Our Stages Act will direct the Small Business Administration to provide grants to deserving venues equal to either 45 percent of their operating costs from the 2019 calendar year, or $12 million, whichever is the lesser cost. Under this bill, the SBA could also make supplemental grants to these eligible

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Commuters Are Not Coming Back

I have one belated prediction for the new year and you’re not going to like it:   After we all get vaccinated and things ‘return to normal’, regular weekday commuters on Metro-North will not be coming back as hoped.  Why should they?  Who wants to spend $400+ a month and waste 2+ hours each day, five days a week riding a train into New York City if you don’t have to?  If this pandemic has shown us anything it’s that going to an office isn’t necessary to doing our jobs. Sure, there are some people who have to show up

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Poor Leadership is as Poor Leadership Does

Delivering a memorable line in the 1994 motion picture, “Forrest Gump,” Sally Field (as Mrs. Gump) gives motherly advice to her son, played by Tom Hanks. “Stupid is as stupid does,” she says comfortingly, a bromide turned ominous by COVID-19. Already America’s coronavirus cases top 22 million with 370,000 dead. Conservative models project U.S. fatalities will reach 560,000 by April. Sixty to one hundred thousand may die this January alone because of post-holiday surges. These totals, by far the world’s worst, were neither inevitable nor teleological. They happened because people ignored advice of scientists, the CDC and other medical advisers,

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Cheerleading by Governor Belies Damage to Economy

Few may begrudge Governor Lamont the cheerfulness of his “state of the state” address upon the opening of the General Assembly this week. As he noted, since last March Connecticut has produced much heroism in confronting the virus epidemic. That heroism includes the governor’s own. For nobody runs for governor to preside over the destruction of the state’s economy amid mass sickness and death. The epidemic has been overwhelming, and even Lincoln acknowledged being overwhelmed in office. “I claim not to have controlled events,” the president wrote, “but confess plainly that events have controlled me.” They have controlled the governor

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Legislators Must Now Share Authority During Pandemic

After a cowardly absence of nine months, the General Assembly reconvenes this week. Though legislators may not recognize it, the first question facing them is whether their new session is to be one of substance or merely a formality. For Governor Lamont has been ruling by emergency decree since the virus epidemic began in March, and with the approval of legislative leaders he has extended that power until Feb. 9. If the emergency is allowed to end then, what is essentially monarchy will end too, democratic government will resume, political responsibility will be widely shared, and legislators will have to

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Challenges Should Not Tear Us Apart

It’s a sad commentary on America that our greatest challenges – the pandemic, climate change, health, wealth and educational disparities, and racial injustice – not only fail to bring us together, but widen divisions. Both major parties have not only deepened those fissures, but given them orthodoxy. Now, democracy, once a serviceable impasse to candidates with dangerous ideas and disruptive impulses, no longer assures even semblances of progress. Sowing discontent, stoking hatred, and disregarding facts and science comprise a tactical lexicon for getting votes and undermining truth. And until reason and empathy “entangle” within our social consciousness, behaving in lockstep

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Looting By Parent Company Took Courant’s Home Away

Employees of Connecticut’s largest newspaper, the Hartford Courant, cleaned out their desks the other day as the newspaper left the building at 285 Broad St. where it had operated for 70 years. It was well reported that the newspaper will continue publishing as its employees work from home, as they have done since March; that the Springfield Republican will do the printing; and that the Courant doesn’t know if it will have an office again. But why the newspaper gave up its offices has not been well reported, and it is not just because of the virus epidemic. It’s also

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CT Examiner’s Top 10 Stories of 2020

Here’s a look at our top 10 stories by readership in 2020 Scientists Explain Bunker Found Washed up on the Connecticut Shoreline by Brendan Crowley School Reopenings Across Connecticut Ignore State Guidance, Raise Issues of Childcare by Julia Werth Bucking State Advice, and a Brookings Study, Connecticut School Districts Reopen on their Own Terms by Julia Werth and Emilia Otte Lamont Designates $2.5 Million to Rent Assistance for Undocumented Immigrants by Julia Werth Officers Say Toxic Environment Drives Departures from Old Saybrook Police by Emilia Otte Nursing Home Deaths in Old Saybrook Point to Deeper Policy and Care Concerns Across

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A Breath of Fresh Air

I decided at the end of 2019 to leave a job at a small town paper in Missouri and take a shot at freelancing. As COVID shutdowns quickly led to newsroom budget cuts, that plan unraveled. Then Gregory Stroud offered me a job reporting at the CT Examiner.  I jumped at the opportunity, and it may be the best decision I’ve made in 26 years. I’ve found the CT Examiner to be a breath of fresh air in the journalism industry – a small, growing operation that invests in local reporting, rather than a massive conglomerate that strips small papers

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How I Started Out in a Pandemic

I took my first reporting job in the middle of a global pandemic. I’m sure that this will define how I approach reporting for the rest of my life.  Coming onboard at the Examiner, I had the rare opportunity to write about an incredible variety of topics – housing, law enforcement, education, taxes, domestic violence, energy, politics, business and, of course, public health.  Essentially, what I got was a birds-eye view of the state of Connecticut. From that vantage point, it became easy to see how everything – especially this year – is interconnected.  Physics tells us that any object

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