It is said two things in life cannot be avoided: death and taxes. That is not entirely true. The truly unscrupulous can evade taxes, or at the very least, a bargain can be struck to make them less onerous. With death, however, there is only one settlement, and that is final.
How we settle the final debt to mortality in the case of terminal illness, and who gets to decide the final terms, is the crux of Senate Bill 668, proposed by three Connecticut senators, Gary Winfield (Tenth District), Eric Coleman (Second District), and Beth Bye (Fifth District), as well as a dozen state representatives, this past January.
The contentious town review of a proposed large-scale housing development on 35 acres off Church Hill Road has inspired a growing contingent of worried residents in the area to study up on sewer systems. The Water and Sewer Authority (WSA) is considering a request from the developer of the multifamily housing complex to extend the sewer district to include the entire parcel instead of just a small portion adjacent to Church Hill Road. The residents are crying foul, saying the request perverts the original purpose of the sewer system serving the center of town.
When Governor Dannel P. Malloy accepted the final report of the Sandy Hook Advisory Commission last Friday, the occasion called for both solemnity and congratulations for the depth and scope of the panel’s 277-page report and its long list of recommendations. Even though the report has been released more than two years after the attack on Sandy Hook Elementary School, the 16 members of the commission presented it with a sense of urgency, noting there has been, on average, one school shooting every week since 12/14. “We can do something different,” said Hamden Mayor and Commission Chairman Scott Jackson. “We can do something better.” To that, a Newtown resident on the panel, Christopher Lyddy, added, “We have to start thinking much differently and boldly.”
For 40 minutes last Friday morning a dozen K-9 narcotics teams toured the parking lots and hallways of Newtown High School. They were there by special invitation of the school’s administration, the Newtown Prevention Council, and the Newtown Police Department. Despite advance notice of the day’s “drug sniff” by the police dog teams, enough evidence was collected to support the arrests of three students and the issuance of an infraction to a fourth on drug-related charges. The sweep of the high school by the police marked the start of what is expected to be a regular program to monitor the presence of drugs in the high school.
In the name of public safety, there are times when we want the police to take control of a situation, sort things out, give orders, and have those orders obeyed. Even if we ourselves ever have the misfortune of being placed under arrest, we should recognize that at the point of arrest the law really does give police wide latitude to do their jobs. There is a time and place for arguing and protesting the particulars of innocence and resisting charges, but it is not when the cuffs are going on. Connecticut has a long tradition of government openness and transparency, however, that has not ceded complete control of the details of arrests to the police — at least not until a state Supreme Court ruling last summer.
The Governor’s Sandy Hook Advisory Commission this week released its report and recommendations growing out of its research and discussions in the wake of the 12/14 mass killing at Sandy Hook Elementary School. It was the third major report to address the tragedy, following the Danbury State’s Attorney report on the crime in November 2013 and the report by the Office of the Child Advocate released late last year. Unlike the first two reports, which offered disturbing investigative details of the pathologies of the crimes and their perpetrator, the advisory commission focused its forensic interest on the responses to the killings by public and private bureaucracies, systems, and ad hoc organizations.
There is no place for you in Newtown if you have a modest income. The houses are too expensive. Rentals are nonexistent. And the town has a set of zoning regulations designed for an affluent demographic that keeps the local population homogeneous and upscale. Fortunately, state law provides a reasonable alternative for developers to overcome the town’s resistance to providing affordable housing. The only problem with all of this, however, is that none of it is true.
If we can believe the lore, there once was a time when one could stand atop Holcombe Hill and see Long Island Sound. These days woodlands block the view, and there are only the seagulls in grocery store parking lots to remind us that we live in a coastal state. And that may be part of the problem, according state environmental officials. When Long Island Sound is out of sight, it is also out of mind in a state bent on robust economic development.
In this relatively snowless winter, we suppose it makes sense that this year’s inversion of our seasonal expectations might itself get inverted with a major snowstorm at about the time when we normally expect a January thaw. Mild winters are not the ones we remember in New England, but they confer blessings on those of us attached to daily routines, and they keep the insurance adjustors at bay. They offer the sort of devalued benefits we take for granted without any special note or accounting. But what of the great disruptions that come sweeping across the Midwest and up the coast setting off blizzard alarms and team coverage in weather centers and newsrooms everywhere? Is there some benefit to the sudden paralyzing complication of a snowstorm beyond the adrenalin buzz?
As town and school budgetmakers assemble the 2015-16 budget line item by line item, they are girding themselves for upcoming hearings on their spending plans, beginning with a February 3 hearing on the school budget. Newtown residents — at least those residents who vote in budget referendums — seem to think their tax burden is heavy enough. They traditionally balk at tax rate increases of anything more than a percent or so. No matter how well crafted or justified school and town budgets may be, they are a hard sell. So we were not surprised to see the eager gathering of local officials at the C.H. Booth Library January 13 to hear the siren call of Robert Santy, president and CEO of the Connecticut Economic Resource Center (CERC), who defined economic development as “building wealth for a community and its residents.”