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Letters to the editor of the New Haven Register, New Haven, Connecticut, Email to

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Remembering Joan Hamerski, a great teacher at St. Stanislaus

I recently attended the wake of a beloved grade school teacher, Miss Joan Hamerski.
“Miss Joan” was a teacher at St. Stanislaus School in New Haven, where I attended school for eight years, graduating in 1971. Miss Joan was my third grade teacher at St. Stan’s. She taught me so much more than any book possibly could. She always looked for that special “something” in each of her students. Miss Joan went above and beyond to instill in our young minds that love and respect always went hand in hand.
I have often thought of Miss Joan’s wonderful life lessons throughout the years, and I have referred to those lessons many times, as a wife, mother, and now a grandmother. I was very saddened to hear of her passing, but I feel truly blessed to have had her as such a positive influence in my life. Miss Joan was truly a remarkable woman. My deepest sympathy goes out to her brother and nieces and family and friends.
 Theresa Napierkowski Grady

Don't make permit process more difficult for law-abiding gun owners

Let’s not blame the hunter, club member, or sportsman who has a permit to own and carry a firearm. In order to obtain a permit there are several background checks, and courses that must be taken, and numerous forms to fill out.
Connecticut is one of the toughest states to secure a permit. Remember the criminal will always get his hands on a weapon one way or another. The “bad” guys don’t have permits, but they all carry. The collector who legally owns and purchases military weapons and uses them at clubs or ranges is not the problem nor is the sportsman who enjoys hunting.
I see no need for assault weapons with 30-round magazines unless you are in combat. Don’t take away the rights from the legitimate gun enthusiasts; go after the criminal and those unable to distinguish between right and wrong.
David Saldibar
 West Haven

Oxford Democrats back stronger gun laws

It is a sad commentary on our nation when it allows itself to be terrorized by easy access to the deadly automatic weapon which allowed the Newtown murderer to fire 154 bullets in less than five minutes.
The Oxford Democratic Town committee voted unanimously to endorse the recent Connecticut State Democratic Party initiative regarding gun safety issues. The four basic provisions of the initiative include:
(1) Universal background checks for all gun buyers
(2) Ban on assault weapons and high capacity magazines
(3) Enhanced mental health services
(4) Stronger enforcement of relevant laws currently in place
Adam Lanza was a member of the NRA, which opposes all of the above except the mental health proposal.
Ann Krane

Postmaster should drop plan for eliminating Saturday delivery

Who elected the postmaster general lord and master of our postal service?
The United States Congress, the House and Senate, voted to keep mail delivery at six days but the postmaster general is still pursuing the plan to cut Saturday service. That would amount to a lot more than an inconvenience to the 22,500 full-time letter carriers that would lose their jobs as a result. The solution to this fiasco is simple. Two things need to change. The first is to nix or revamp the postal services plan to pre-fund retirement for the next 75 years over a 10-year period at the cost of $5.6 billion. The second is to change the law that makes it illegal for the postal service to make a profit. Then someone needs to tell these people that there’s a difference between not making a profit and losing billions of dollars a year. Ask Donald Trump. He’ll tell ya.
Matthew J. Schons
New Haven

Milford schools should reverse decision on Rosh Hashanah

In planning next year’s school calendar, does the Milford Superintendent of Schools Dr. Elizabeth Feser and Board of Education realize what a costly decision to keep the schools open on Rosh Hashanah will be?
Known as the High Holidays, and comparable to Easter and Christmas in importance, observant teachers (and children) of the Jewish faith, will not be in attendance on both Thursday, September 5 and Friday, September 6, due to it duality.
Traditionally, the Milford schools have always closed on Rosh Hashanah. Surely, history will not repeat itself, when more than 30 years ago, Milford’s Jewish teachers fought and won the right to take the second day as a paid personal leave day. Since I was personally involved in protesting this contractual constraint, I am especially sensitive to this issue. Therefore, I should hope that the decision to keep the Milford schools open on Rosh Hashanah will be rescinded.
Frances B. Apfel

It's time for Congress to end America's corn subsidies

With the ongoing budget debates in the U.S. Congress, legislators have considered cutting NPR, the NEA, portions of the defense budget, and even some entitlements. What seems to be missing from the budget conversation is a focus on cutting programs which both harm taxpayers and waste their hard earned dollars. Cutting subsidies to corn producers and other major agricultural groups should be considered a viable solution in Congress. While Iowa still has the first caucus during the presidential primary system, no political lobby should be insulated from necessary spending cuts.
Corn farmers alone received over five billion dollars in direct payments from the federal government in 2012. These subsidies not only unnecessarily subsidize corporate farming, they also are a leading contributor to the public health epidemic in America today. Most New Haven residents, such as myself, do not have easy access to a diversity of affordable food options. The products that are cheapest to us, sugary processed foods, are loaded with high fructose corn syrup to sweeten their taste. Most individuals do not recognize how much corn they consume, or how ubiquitous corn syrup is in their diet. The average American consumes over 77 pounds of corn via products sweetened with corn sugar alone.
Subsidies to farmers on a wide-scale basis started in 1922 with the Grain Futures Act. Originally, subsidies solved for a market problem - individual farmers were over supplying the market. For the average farmer, he or she would be better off farming more grain during the surplus because he or she could sell more product; however, this effect is offset when all other farmers adopt the same strategy. As such, agricultural prices were incredibly low, and farmers were unable to allow their fields to lie fallow. These concerns are no longer a reality for farmers. Most farms are corporate owned or operated. Additionally, the development of recent irrigation and farming techniques coupled with an expansion in available markets has allowed corporate farmers to easily turn a profit with additional government assistance.
Ending corn subsidies benefits average individuals. Not only by saving their tax dollars, but also by paying off in the long run. Lowering the over-consumption of empty calories and sweet products is tantamount to fight obesity, a problem in New Haven and all across America. Removing corn subsidies raises the price of these goods relative to others, making healthier options more price competitive. Food purchasers need to have an incentive to eat healthier, and food producers need to have an incentive not to oversupply their products with sugar.
Corn subsidies preference corn over other products, but what makes corn so special? When Americans are choosing between cutting programs which provide aid to the least well off or educate our population, it seems to be inconsiderate to ignore corn subsidies. Both the savings directly from cutting subsidies, and the potential public health benefits should make corn the sweetest target on the legislative menu.
Robert Colonel
New Haven

Charter schools a great preparation for college, life

After seeing that funding for charter schools continues to be an issue, I thought it might be helpful to add the perspective of a student who went to a charter middle and high school before attending a four-year college.
I attended a charter middle school in New Haven for four years and I was a part of the founding class for the charter high school I attended. I am currently a junior in college, about to study abroad in Japan this April. In addition to going to Japan soon to study, come senior year I will be the club head of two clubs (this semester I was the co-head since I will be gone to study abroad half the year), and I’ll be writing a 50-60 page thesis.
Over the years, I’ve heard some people refer to charter schools as “money grabs” and I want to clarify that is not true. Based on my experience in charter schools this couldn’t be any further from the truth. Over the years, my teachers ensured I received as much after school help I needed. This ranged from receiving extra help in calculus, going out to eat with a teacher to celebrate getting academic rewards (either for grades, or performing well in other aspects of school, like reading the most books in my grade), going to the Peabody Museum, or even going out with my advisory group to have dinner together. What I’ve come to realize more and more as I’ve grown older is that my teachers genuinely care about me, and all their students; now when I return home from college I visit my old teachers all of whom are excited to see me . Every one of my teachers that I visit, including my 5th Grade teacher from 11 years ago, feels like a member of my family.
I can see the skeptical reader responding to this letter with comments like: “See they go out and have fun, what about actually working and studying, like school is supposed to be?” I’d argue that even though I listed the fun, casual things my teachers did for me out of school, we still worked hard. The point being that a positive, encouraging environment best boosts academic success. There are plenty of statistics published that demonstrate how well charter schools perform, especially when compared to traditional schools in Connecticut, but my sense is that the facts have not sunk in for some readers. My hope is to add something to this conversation. Sure I occasionally got in trouble in high school, but I was the top performing male student in my graduating class. I’m writing this letter today a year away from graduating college. I graduated from my high school fully prepared for college level curriculum. Every year members of the Amistad senior class, beginning with mine, has graduated and gone onto college. The statistics speak for themselves: over the past four years, 100 percecnt of the students graduating from my high school for have been accepted to college. Those numbers are not complicated, they are simple and remarkable.
Our state’s school system is consistently one of the lowest performing public education systems in this country for years now. On the whole, charters seem to be gradually reversing this trend, much more rapidly than traditional schools. With these results in mind, what reason do we have to not give charter schools a fair chance? They have been making this great progress with a fraction of the funding of district schools. If they were provided equitable funding, this progression and improvement would accelerate. Fewer students would be turned away because from well-performing charter schools because there are not enough seats for every family that wants their child to attend the school. We will be able to celebrate the achievements of those doing well, instead of cycling through new tragedies taking place.
Julius Bennett
New Haven

Great care, great people at St. Raphael's Hospital

Words cannot express my gratitude to the staff at St. Raphael's Hospital for the excellent care that they gave my husband during his recent extended stay in the CCU ward.
Things were very dicey for quite a while and we weren't even sure he'd be coming home. The nurses, physicians and other staff were kind and supportive and rejoiced with me when he improved.
Thanks also to the Rev. Aaron, who comforted me on the admission night when I was so scared. The other ecumenical staff provided prayers, communion and other spiritual guidance too.
Praise to Cardiology Associates of New Haven, whose staff checked in daily. I don't like to call names for fear of missing someone, but the nurses that I got to know well were A+. Thanks Kadah, Erin, Corrine and Claudio. Sorry I missed the night staff.
It's terrific to live in a city where, not only is the medical care excellent, but the folks in CCU were "people-skilled" as well as medically adept.
Dora Hale

Stricter Connecticut gun law won't prevent another tragedy

Connecticut’s Republican leaders have disappointed us in supporting the state's new gun legislation. The law will only harm the legal gun owner with its attempt to thwart ammunition sales, not to mention its disregard of the Second Amendment. Since the tragedy in Newtown, ammunition is virtually nonexistent on the shelves of gun dealers throughout Connecticut and the nation. Even when it is available, it’s at a much higher price. Anti-gun bills, on top of the U.S. government dramatically spiking up its purchases of ammunition, has done more to infringe on the rights of legal gun owners than in any other time in history.
Now owning an ammunition clip that exceeds the law’s maximum capacity will turn law-abiding citizens into felons if the clip is not registered. Seriously?
Sad, though, is the near-sighted nature of this bill. What stops anyone from going to a nearby state and acquiring ammunition without proof of the so called “eligibility certificate?” What stops someone from going to another state to buy a 30-round clip? Why is it illegal for me to own a large size clip or a particular weapon for self defense in my home? In most instances, guns are used for sport and home protection, not for the evil of people who don’t care about the law. Most criminals don’t acquire a gun legally in any event.
It seems the more laws government chokes the people with, the more ways people find a way to circumvent it. Look at Prohibition and today’s battle with marijuana. Does anyone really pay attention to the speed limit, red lights, seat belts and cell phone laws? All of which have lead to many more senseless deaths than guns.
In November the elected officials of Connecticut can falsely hold their heads high and say “they voted for stricter gun laws; the most strict in the country.” The problem is, we already had one of the strictest laws and a tragedy still happened.
Richard Evans

Childhood hunger a pressing problem for Connecticut

Children are our future and are here to make a better world. They are a contributing factor for what is next to come, but what if they cannot be a part of that because they are worried about how to get their next meal? Connecticut faces the issue of childhood hunger and it is increasing every day. A Child Food Insecurity study conducted in 2012 showed that 151,530 children in Connecticut suffer from hunger and food insecurity. Just in New haven alone, the rate is 19.1. That is 36,750 children! Middlesex, New London, Fairfield, Litchfield and Windham Counties are other areas in Connecticut of high rates of food insecurity.
Even though there are several food banks and pantries that are available around this state, many children have limited access to transportation and are too young to research nearby places or travel there alone if their parents cannot escort them. According to the authors Blau and Abramovitz, hunger is linked to the lack of focus children have in school, lower math scores and children are more likely to be retained. Some children may need to see a psychologist because of feelings of unworthiness and inadequacy. Just think all of this can be prevented by a plate of nutritious food.
The same study also suggests that 48 percent of childhood hunger is a result from lack of federal food assistance from state programs such as SNAP and WIC. These children and their families do not qualify for such programs because they make over the income requirement. I believe there needs to be some changes. If a family makes over the income limit but cannot afford adequate food, how do they really not qualify? Yes there are rules and policies in place for these programs but how can these children survive without food? More children should be awarded food assistance from the state and programs should modify their qualifications by lowering the income qualification. I believe that programs should thoroughly investigate a family’s situation and see that the children are the ones who are suffering the most from hunger. The strength of these programs such as SNAP should be improved overall.
As a social worker, a child’s welfare is very important and we believe that children have a right to a safe, stable and permanent home where their basic levels of care and nurture are met, and they have available access to adequate food. Hopefully these small modifications will be a start to ending childhood hunger and children would have a brighter future. President Obama has expressed his commitment to ending childhood hunger by 2015, so let’s help him by getting a head start now.
Janelle Hoff

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Don't borrow money to solve Hamden's pension problem

Hamden's Mayor, Scott Jackson, wants to issue pension obligation bonds this year. This is not in the best interests of the taxpayers and would represent a total capitulation to the unions. The Town Council will consider this proposal in the next few weeks. The mayor's idea must be rejected. The recent actuarial study determined that Hamden’s pension shortfall is $360 million, present-value dollars. That deficit represents an astounding $6,000 for every man, woman and child in the town. It is nearly twice as much per capita as Stockton, California, which is now in bankruptcy court.
The actuaries identified several reasonable ways to reduce pension costs. The mayor is not pursuing those. Any financial solution must be accompanied by large liability reductions for the plan burden to be manageable.
Fitch, the bond-rating agency, just downgraded Hamden again. Bonding now would be very expensive. Even if investment returns exceed bonding cost, all the debt service and all the risk would fall on Hamden taxpayers.
Once pension bonds are issued, state law requires automatic, actuarially determined, payments into the fund. If bonds are issued without union concessions the town will be locked into high payments forever. There would be no way to cut costs other than massive layoffs or bankruptcy. Nobody wants to see those happen.
Pension contracts with the town will not be on the table for two years. Therefore any bonding decision should be deferred until those negotiations are complete.
Issuing bonds this year would not be in the public interest and a betrayal of our trust. The public and the council should tell the mayor that pension reform must happen before bonding is considered. If bonding were enacted now it would be a crippling blow to Hamden taxes and property values for generations.
George Levinson

How many Muslim radicals are there in the world?

It's a known fact that the perpetrators of 9/11 and the Boston bombers were Muslim radicals. There are 1 billion Muslims in the world. If just 10 percent of them are rationalized as radicals then there are 100 million radical Muslims in the world. If it's just 1 percent, that's 10 million. It it's one-tenth of  1 percent, we're still left with one million. That's a lot of Muslim radicals.
Stan Muzyk

Something's wrong when dogs are drinking from the toilet

I get tired of hearing about dogs drinking out of the toilet. The water in the toilet is the same as in the sink next to it.
Let’s examine the facts
1. Does he have a clean water bowl?
2. Is it filled every day with clean water?
3. Is the toilet clean?
4. And last but not least, who was the slob who left the seat up?
G.E. MacDiarmid

Who killed Peaches?

Re: your April 3 article, “Death of Shelton Library’s pet snake remains unsolved.” Thank you for keeping this story before the public. Anyone who knows anything about the brutal attack on Peaches must come forward. Just imagine the pain and terror, confined in her aquarium with no means of escape. The person or persons responsible need to be identified and held accountable.
Mary Peterson

Senate was right to reject background check law

Hooray for the U.S. Senate for not voting for new gun laws! I applaud the senators. Look at the explosions at the Boston Marathon - no guns! Criminals can find ways to kill no matter what the laws are. We all sympathize greatly for Sandy Hook, but our emotions can’t resolve the issue. Hooray for the Founding Fathers, the Constitution and our Second Amendment rights! God bless America and freedom.
Adrienne Mallette

New Haven Register is wrong about Maturo and doesn't care about babies

I don’t live in East Haven, but I am glad to see Mayor Maturo stand up for himself and the people of East Haven against the editorial staff of the New Haven Register. In my opinion, the Register was irresponsible and used race baiting to hide the many positives that East Haven has accomplished over the last few years.
Mayor Maturo may not be perfect, but he has worked hard to improve all aspects of the city. He certainly misspoke, as we all do on occasion, and it appears that he learned and offered positive change.
 It’s a shame that the New Haven Register is not run as well and is not as financially sound as the City of East Haven. If I recall, back in the fall of 2012 the New Haven Register filed for bankruptcy for the second time in four years.
The Register has not seen a Republican that they like, and they go out of their way to diminish most Republicans with their baseless claims. They did this in the last election when they outlined all of Obama’s failures, with no accomplishments, but still supported him because they claimed that Romney and the Republicans were waging a so-called “War on Women.”
Perhaps the Register editorial staff would do better and increase readership if they offered some facts to support their name calling and innuendos. It is easy to sit at a desk and critique groups that you may disagree with without producing any facts. I challenge the Register to offer facts to substantiate this so called Republican “War on Women.”
Could it be that most Republicans care more about babies than the Register staff does?
In my opinion, the editorial staff is nothing more than a mouthpiece for the “extreme left wing” and the Democratic Party. The Register consistently supports Democrats over Republican and more than 90 percent of the political cartoons have an extreme left wing bias. It would be enlightening so see the Register editorial staff offer fair and unbiased opinions so that their dwindling readership could glean all points of view and have a fair debate.
Richard Mingrone

Don't force CL&P and UI customers to go with private energy supplier

In today’s uncertain economy, I appreciate my right to choose an electricity provider and rate that best serves the needs of my household and my wallet.
A proposal being considered by state lawmakers would take away this choice from nearly 800,000 residents like me who are on the Standard Plan from CL&P or UI and force us into a contract with a private electricity supplier. This so-called “energy auction” would allow the state to sell off groups of Standard Plan customers to the highest bidder. The governor’s office, which is championing the proposal, claims that customers will save 5 percent, but only for the first year. There is no promise that the savings will continue.
Today, the Standard Plan provides the citizens of Connecticut with a stable, affordable option for their energy needs and acts as an important benchmark that customers can use to compare the rates of other providers. With this new energy auction proposal, that option, as well as my right to choose, is being taken away. I hope legislators will stand up for constituents like me and oppose the governor’s energy auction plan.
Bharat Manghnani
New Haven

Thanks to Quinnipiac for busing fans to Pittsburgh for Frozen Four

I want to thank Quinnipiac University for providing bus transportation to the Frozen Four in Pittsburgh for the semifinals on Thursday and the finals on Saturday. Also special thanks to President John Lahey and Athletic Director Jack McDonald for giving the students and fans the opportunity to see a historic event for the university. It was a great venue. I am sure others had a good time as I did visiting Pittsburgh, the hockey games and other events. Congratulations to both the Bobcats and the winning Bulldogs.
Ron Dietter

Taking animal abuse seriously

First of all, may I say what courage the New Haven Register had to write the recent story, “No prison time for dog killer.” I was not only saddened by the judgment made by Judge Maureen Keegan, but was enraged to think that all Micah Rapini was imposed is mental health treatment. Clearly, it has been determined by greater minds that people such as this boy may one day turn out to kill a human being. He must and should be incarcerated for a period of time in order to understand his reprehensible behavior. In addition, he does need counseling.
However, treatment alone will not solve his horrendous actions. Alex Wullaert should be commended for his actions outside the court.
Abby L. Savin

Stop exploiting Sandy Hook for political, financial gain

In the aftermath of the Sandy Hook tragedy much has been written and said by those who seem to be pushing their own agendas for political or financial gain. Our government has exploited this heinous act by using it as an opportunistic pawn in their push for tighter gun control.
Sadly, the uncle of 6-year-old victim Noah Pozner, Washington state attorney Alexis Haller, has his agenda (read 4/20/13 front page of the New Haven Register). Our own state Rep. Dave Yaccarino and state Sen. Leonard Fasano have taken sides for gun control. Is it the popular thing to do? And.U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Connecticut, got on the bandwagon for campaign contributions.
More laws for tighter gun control will not deter those intent on criminal or evil acts. What it will do is limit the freedom of law-abiding citizens. Connecticut and the world will not forget the families of Newtown nor their beloved children. However, when will the families be allowed to grieve in peace privately?
Barbara Fruin
North Haven

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Woodbridge mourns loss of First Selectman Ed Sheehy

Certainly the town of Woodbridge is shocked by the sudden passing of First Selectman Ed Sheehy. Seeking another term in office on May 6, Ed’s death couldn’t be more untimely. He was a great guy, accessible in office, dealt with all manners of crisis, budgets and political issues as both a town official and a gentleman. Ed will be more than sorely missed - as a man and local leader in Woodbridge. He will be very difficult to replace.
Russ Madison

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Congress put Postal Service in this situation

Reader David Franklin was spot on with his commentary regarding the fabricated "debt" of the United States Postal Service. There is little doubt that President Bush and his lame duck Congress passed the PAEA with the sole intent of eventually splintering the USPS, with benefactors such as the scoundrel Koch brothers and their cromies waiting in the wings looking to seize and privatize the profitable, direct mailing end of it. They would then discard what they deemed unnecessary, much like Gordon Gecko in the movie "Wall Street."  Few people know the facts that Mr. Franklin articulated in his letter, even fewer still realize the true chicanery and the 7 year shell game Congress has played with the USPS and the unsuspecting public:
In 2006, when Congress started requiring USPS to lend the US Treasury $5.5 billion per year to be repaid by the Treasury up to 75 years in the future in the form of retiree health benefit premiums, USPS had $0 debt. Its current $15 billion debt was caused by the requirement to lend that $5.5 billion to the Treasury every year. Before 2006, USPS, in accordance with private sector best practice paid the normal cost (yearly cost) of its retiree health benefit costs out of current revenues. USPS is now the only entity, public, military, or private, that is required by law to prefund that liability.
 The taxpaying public would do well to learn the difference between liability and debt and how that difference can be used by a money-addicted Congress to find money to squander on its wasteful programs. USPS has the future liability for its retiree’s health benefits so Congress forces it to borrow the money now to prefund the liability. Now USPS’ liability is converted into debt. USPS lends the money to the Treasury and it is reported in the Unified Federal Budget (the federal equivalent to a General Fund) as “revenue.” Congress pretends that this revenue has no strings attached because the offsetting debt is hidden in the OFF BUDGET USPS’ financial reports and they squander the money on unrelated programs. So how do the health benefits get paid? Future taxpayers have to cash the Treasury bonds held by USPS to pay, that’s how. This is just another debt monetization scheme by Congress where they sell debt, pretend that the money is “revenue” so it can be spent freely, and stick future taxpayers with paying it back. It’s the same scheme they pulled with Social Security. If those payments had anything – anything at all – to do with building up a fund to pay those future expenses the funds would be invested in marketable securities rather than immediately spent elsewhere. To date, no one has offered any reason whatsoever why this draconian mandate has yet to be repealed. The sad truth is that it won't be any time soon. Why would Congress kill off its cash cow? Who would fund its irresponsible pork barrel spending if they did?
Steve Punzo
President, National Postal Mailhandlers Union Branch 14

Enforce gun laws Connecticut already had

We have new gun laws in the state of Connecticut. You realize nothing is going to change. Maybe a little, but not much.. As long as our court system allows plea bargaining on cases before the court, it will be business as usual. We had good laws on the books if only they would enforce them.
This is the way I think it should be. If a person commits a crime with a gun of any kind, five years in jail, no plea bargaining, even if it's their first offense, with no time off for good behavior!
Carrying a handgun without a permit, two years in jail, same, no plea bargaining or time off for good behavior.
If a person purchases a gun to give to a felon who can't own a gun, the person buying the gun receives the same sentence as the person committing the crime, with no plea bargaining or time off for good behavior.
Of course this would never happen because the state is already crying the blues because prisons and jails are overcrowded. Who cares! those criminals could be locked up in a toilet for all we care. Do you know what would happen it that was done? The good old ACLU would scream that those criminals' rights are not being protected! My response to that is how about the rights of the poor children in Sandy Hook who lost their lives to a madman!
James W. Ballard
West Haven

Underfunded public schools pitted against each other

Recently I’ve seen a few letters complaining about funding for public charter schools. These complaints seem to be focused on the issue of public money being supposedly diverted from regular public schools and funneled into “private” charter schools. The truth is that because both regular public schools and public charter schools continue to be chronically underfunded, an intense competition has arisen between them. Neither of these school choices have access to the kind of resources and funding that our children need and deserve.
Charter schools have, in part, arisen as a viable option for just this reason; that the public schools are terribly under-resourced and under-funded. It is sad that unless a parent is lucky enough to win a coveted lottery spot for their child at one of the higher performing magnet schools that their only other choice is their local, underfunded, and in many cases “failing” neighborhood public school. Understandably many parents are seeking better options for their children and this is where public charters have arisen to offer parents another option. But, although public charters exist as a viable option for our children and although most of them have been shown to consistently outperform regular public schools they are still not equally funded. This situation needs to change, and thankfully Governor Malloy supports making those changes.
Far from being populated solely by students who are guaranteed to succeed many of Connecticut's public charters are serving children who have fallen through the cracks of their local public school systems. These charter schools employ enhanced curriculum, provide extra support for struggling learners and offer a small, supportive environment where students who may have been falling behind in traditional public schools are now able to succeed. The public charters in Connecticut provide a much needed solution for parents struggling to find a school that fits the particular needs of their children. And, thankfully, we do have a choice. Don't all of our children deserve to be in a school where they can thrive? The families that chose charter schools are not wealthy families who can afford to send their children to private school. These are families like mine. Well, maybe not exactly like mine. I actually decided to homeschool my son from third through eighth grade when it became clear that he was not thriving in our local public school. We couldn't afford to send him to private school so we decided to give homeschooling a try. Homeschooling was the right option for us for the grammar school years but when he reached eighth grade my son decided that he wanted to attend high school. We had the choice of sending him to a large public high school or of applying to a small, local charter school. We chose the charter school and are extremely happy with that choice. Because of it's small size, the extraordinary commitment of it's excellent teachers and staff and the sense of community the school provides, my son has made an amazing transition back into school. He is involved with many extra-curricular activities, has made great friends and is on the academic honor roll.
Just as I had the choice to homeschool in Connecticut, so also did I have the choice to send my child to a public charter school. When I first heard about the brave stand that Governor Malloy was taking regarding fair funding for charters I was overjoyed. Finally, I thought, here is a governor who may be able to take charge of the educational disparities that exist in Connecticut and do something about them. And, even though we still have a long way to go in terms of giving public charter schools equal funding, the tide is now beginning to move in the right direction and that gives me hope for the future.
Gwen Petti
New Haven

Connecticut gun bill wouldn't have prevented Sandy Hook shooting

In light of the tragic event in Newtown, Connecticut legislators felt the need to react and I can understand that. The problem is their reaction and legislation would not have prevented Adam Lanza from doing what he did.
Much of the blame, if not all of the blame, should go to his mother. She was the enabler who made the illegal straw purchases for the guns owned and used that sad day. Living with a mentally disturbed son, she gave him access to guns, the gun safe in his room and providing a cash gift to purchase a new gun. All of these events were already illegal in the state of Connecticut.
Connecticut already had an “assault weapon” ban now, Connecticut had a background check system for retail and the gun show purchases. All this conversation about magazine capacity makes no sense. The legislators say 10 rounds is OK, but over that it is not. What they are saying is a crazed maniac can have 10 rounds to kill 10 children but not more then 10. Ten is OK. This makes no sense.
The rush to put new laws in effect before all the Newtown investigation results are in is a crime.
Get the guns away from the gangs and drug criminals, and the inner city killing will stop. These guns were not purchased legally, no background checks made and none of the shootings were made with an “assault weapon,” and I think you will find less than 10 rounds were ever fired in any of these street shootings. Stop the foolish panic and take a sensible view of the problem and what needs to be done.
Ed Karber

Massachusetts first responders make us proud

I'm proud to be an American and especially proud to be a neighbor of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. The preparedness, bravery, and self sacrifice of the local police, state police and FBI were beyond all expectations. The first responders should all get a medal for their bravery selflessness and love of fellow man. Please God, let's hope this doesn't happen again. But it is good to know that He sends us the good people when they are most needed.
Gail Schuler

Gun rights is the 'civil rights issue of 2013'

I feel that I need to offer a second opinion to the rants in your editorial regarding the gun rights rally from last Saturday and your callous referral to some of the comments from the speakers as making us less than “law abiding.” The comments from the speakers were in direct response to the scandalous way in which the governor and his ilk rammed this legislation down our throats.
Not a single public hearing and no time for the senators and representatives to fully comprehend 140-plus pages of laws that even the police cannot understand. And they will be expected to enforce them. All introduced on a Monday afternoon, vote taken on Wednesday and signed into law on Thursday. That was the most criminal use of legislative power I’ve seen in a long time. But wait – where have we seen this before? Oh, yeah, the Obamacare debacle. Remember ... thousands of pages, no time to read it, “let’s pass it and we’ll read it later?” Sounds like a chip off the old block. Do you call that law abiding? Who wouldn’t consider civil disobedience toward such a blatant abuse of power from those who are supposed to represent them? I have zero respect for this crowd of tyrants and their ways.
It’s borderline criminal that the contents of this bill did not get aired in public prior to the vote. All feedback provided prior to the drafting of the bill regarding keeping such weaponry out of the hands of criminals and the monsters who would perpetrate these crimes was ignored. Do you think these folks will be complying with the new laws when they obviously ignored those currently on the books?
Let me propose this. Since you feel so strongly about these new laws getting the guns off the street, why not send your editorial staff, reporters, production crew, etc. out into some of the more violent neighborhoods of Hartford, New Haven, Bridgeport, etc.? You could go door to door and help collect all of the illegal weapons. Then, the long suffering residents of these areas will thank you for making them feel safe again in their homes. Certainly, those who commit these violent crimes will heed the new laws and voluntarily hand over their weapons to help ensure public safety, right? Please!
What makes your editorial even more infuriating is that five pages back, the continuation headline for the Boston story shows in BOLD print “Boston: Neither suspect had a permit to carry guns.” This is what drives gun rights activists to speak out as we do. Your own newspaper acknowledges that the bad guys won’t be affected by these laws – they didn’t even obey the ones on the books before. So why penalize those of us who will never commit a crime with a weapon? There is no logic I can think of other than a preset agenda to disarm those of us who want to protect our families in the first few minutes of a crisis until the police can arrive. Why is that so hard for folks like you to understand? I am committed to doing what it takes to remove this atrocity from our books.
This is clearly a violation of our civil rights under the Second Amendment. So, where is the ACLU and other similar groups in all of this? Don’t they scramble all over themselves to protect these rights when a perceived violation of the First Amendment takes place? This is the civil rights issue of 2013. Shouldn’t we see Jesse Jackson and the Rev. Al Sharpton standing by our side to help us crush this blatant disregard for our freedoms? I’m not holding my breath.
Don Nidoh

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Connecticut is failing at-risk children and we're all to blame

Post Columbine, Virginia Tech, and now Sandy Hook, there is press regarding gun control. I propose that gun control laws will put a Band-Aid over a chasm.
I am not opposed to stricter gun laws, and do I believe a person needs 40 guns? No. But, I see things with a broader perspective.
Let us examine a "hypothetical" story about "Jimmy." Jimmy is born to a crack addict. His first years of life are fraught with abuse and severe neglect. He is brought to an emergency department three times with injuries before a nurse finally makes a DCF referral. It takes two months for DCF to find Jimmy - filthy and mute in a corner of a rat infested apartment. DCF takes custody of Jimmy, pulling him from all he’s ever known. Twenty-three new and old fractures are found throughout his body. He is placed in foster care. He is shuffled from home to home falling through the cracks in school, unable to read past a first grade level. By age 13 he has attacked teachers and schoolmates and is placed in residential placement for "aggressive behaviors." Jimmy has no attachments and has never been shown love or affection. He sees a therapist who talks to him with puppets about controlling his temper, but never asks about his traumatic memories. He is medicated - but how does a person medicate thirteen years of abuse and neglect. Jimmy is the feral cat pressing his nose to a window in the rain, looking in at a loving family from the outside, unable to join. He finds solace in a gang. By age 18 I see Jimmy on the news, an "18-year-old man sentenced to life in prison for killing a convenience store owner during a robbery."
When and who failed Jimmy? Society has seen these stories over and over, yet no one has stood up and said “No more!” No more will we allow children to fall through the cracks. No more will we put children into a flawed system that is underfunded and under-appreciated. Never again will we allow a Jimmy to grow without love into a feral creature.
In the richest state in the country, how is it possible that I see children without jackets in downtown Hartford? Children who are pregnant at 16 because they need money and they get more money from the state if they have a child? I’ve taken care of children in the emergency department who have no food, and no future.
Gun control? I shake my head in shame. Gun control will not keep guns out of the hands of our children. We need a systems change. We as a society have to take ownership of these mass shootings and the collapse of the mental health system. We have to take ownership of the quiet withdrawal of state funding from residential placements, inpatient beds, and outpatient clinics. We have to take ownership of DCF - again underpaid, understaffed and inherently flawed.
Who failed Jimmy? The nurses who discharged him from the NICU with his drug abusing mother? The doctors who sent him home over and over from the emergency department to sustain more bruises and injuries. Was it his neighbors who never called the police when they heard his cries? Was it his mental health workers who have no adequate training in trauma treatment and who perhaps came on the scene to late? Was it his teachers who ignored his low cognitive functioning? Was it you or me who looked the other way when his sad empty eyes looked into ours while he was dragged by us on the sidewalk as we walked to work? There are so many steps in the downward spiral of a person’s humanity. It was not just one person responsible for Jimmy’s downfall.
Just as guns are not the sole reasons for these mass shootings. We as a society are all responsible. Democrats, Republicans, black, white, rich and poor, we are all to blame. The only way to solve these issues will be to unite across parties, across races, and class lines.
I am a psychiatric nurse practitioner. I work within this flawed system in hopes of being part of a change. But I cannot do it alone. I urge you to rise and take responsibility as a citizen of this country- as a person who will do anything to preserve her own humanity- I ask that you take a stand and not look the other way when you walk by the next Jimmy. Contact your state legislator and plead for mental health funding for children. Plead for funding for DCF. I am not above begging if it means preventing another Sandy Hook. The question is how far are you willing to go to save our children?
Meredith Bailey

Connecticut should require reporting of toxic chemicals in kids' products

If someone asked you to enroll your child in a research study that gave your child a bath in a product full of harmful chemicals or play with a toy that contained chemicals that disrupt their hormones during their developmental years, would you? No, that would be irresponsible and absurd! Our children explore the world by touch and putting toys into their mouths; they nap and sleep 10-13 hours each day. As parents we try our best to make choices that protect them so they grow up healthy.
However, the reality is chemicals are being used in manufacturing of children’s products like nap mats, mattresses and even toys that have not been proven safe. Regulations dating back to 1976 and the Toxic Substances Control Act are outdated because there are over 83,000 chemicals in commerce today. Sixty-two thousand were grandfathered into place when the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) was enacted with little or no safety testing.
Connecticut legislators are being asked to step up to the plate and take action to protect our children from the exposure to toxic chemicals. Your voice is needed to show support!
With federal reform of TSCA stalled by the chemical industry’s lobbyists, states need to take steps to begin identifying what toxic chemicals are being used in children’s products. HB 6526 will require manufacturers to report the use of toxic chemicals in children’s products and develop plans to shift to safer alternatives. Please take action and contact your legislator and ask for support of House Bill 6526, AAC Children’s Products and Chemicals of High Concern. We can no longer be silent and allow toxic chemicals to be used in children’s products that are linked to cancer, asthma and infertility. We need our Connecticut legislators to protect our most valuable and vulnerable population!
Karen Wexell, RN

Richardson case mistrial: Another perspective from the jury room

Your April 12 article, “Mistrial Declared in Jewu Richardson Case…,” gave prominent coverage to two “hold-out” jurors who deadlocked the deliberations and forced a mistrial.
For their role in keeping the 6-person jury from reaching any verdict on any of the 10 counts against Mr. Richardson, these two jurors were embraced and praised by activist groups rallying against police brutality. The outcome of mistrial was hailed as a vindication for their broader cause.
We, too, were on the jury in this case. We were astonished to learn that this is how the trial has been characterized in the public eye.
Mr. Richardson was on trial for a variety of charges, most involving motor-vehicle-related violations, such as driving while intoxicated and reckless driving. The trial was an effort to enforce the laws that forbid such behavior. These laws protect public safety. We believe no worthy cause or principle was served by the forcing of a mistrial.
For two weeks we sat through presentations of evidence from both the prosecution and defense. Day after day we concentrated on detailed testimony involving civilian and police eyewitnesses, written reports, maps, diagrams, audio and video recordings, photographic evidence, accident reconstructions, forensic experts, etc.
On retiring to deliberate, we found that not all jurors felt obliged to focus exclusively on this mass of evidence in determining the facts of the case. For some jurors, distrust of the police provided sufficient rationale to “vote their conscience” without further debate.
Our assignment was to determine Mr. Richardson’s guilt or innocence on each count. The possibility that he might be guilty on some counts and not guilty on others seemed the obvious starting point -- to most of us.
Most of the counts against Mr. Richardson required factual determinations about his own behavior, totally unrelated to the actions of the police. The questions of whether, for example, he was driving drunk or recklessly, or was involved in car collisions, did not require any consideration of what the police (or anyone else) did or did not do that night (or any other time).
We understand that strong emotions may overwhelm a person’s objectivity. Faced with a mountain of complicated, technical, sometimes contradictory evidence, coupled with instructions cross-referenced to heavy legalese, not all people can sort out the relevant from the irrelevant. Such people may be sincere and well intentioned. But they should not be jurors. Nor should anyone who cannot isolate themselves from influences originating outside the courtroom -- a fundamental obligation to which we all swore under oath.
For those picketing in protest against police brutality, we sympathize with your cause, and we appreciate that there have been judicial cases involving individuals legitimately worthy of your passions and support. This case may not be one of them.
This mistrial was no victory for any principled cause. Keeping neighborhoods safe for peaceful, law-abiding citizens requires broad respect for the law and for the entire judicial process, not just devotion to the single issue on one’s picket sign.
Robert A. Gelfand, M.D. (jury foreman)
Kelly Merly

Stereotyping gun owners

According to the left wing zealots we have in politics, we are not supposed to judge all Muslims by the acts of a few "crazies." But the acts of a few American "crazies" is enough to judge all Americans who own guns! Dictators prefer unarmed citizens.
Ken DuBois
East Hartford

Maturo misleading East Haven on when police problems started

How incredibly disingenuous of Mayor Joseph Maturo who, during his State of the Town message, described the problems in the East Haven Police Department as having “developed between 2007 and 2011.”
Anyone who has read the indictments of the arrested police officers knows that the problems go back before 2007 – when Maturo was mayor.
He also failed to note that it was Mayor Capone who suspended and attempted to fire the former police chief.
He also omitted the fact that one of his first actions upon returning to Town Hall was to reinstate that man – who we now know was an unindicted co-conspirator.
The only reason Maturo is now doing the right thing is because he is being told what to do by the Department of Justice – and he would like to take a pat on the back for that! His chutzpah continues to amaze.
Brendan Geelan
East Haven

Madison-to-New Haven buses aren't empty

Reader J.N. Mitchell writes of the “empty” buses traveling on the Madison to New Haven route. It is true when the bus leaves or arrives at Madison few people are on it. I have taken that bus several times and by arrival at New Haven the load is more than 20 riders.
The line serves Madison, Guilford, Branford and East Haven. It is logical that the bus would be near empty at its outer terminus. The writer also suggests vans instead of buses. That is exactly what happens. The city buses run to Madison and a van “9 town transit” connects for those going on the points East. For years, large city buses ran the full New Haven-Old Saybrook route.
Carleton F. Loucks

Sorry to see Lyman Orchards golf pro depart

I was saddened to hear the news that Lyman Orchards Golf Club eliminated PGA Golf Professional Dick Bierkan’s position after 42 years of dedicated service. I’ve known Dick for a number of years, and I know he’s been a dedicated employee for more than four decades.
In prior conversations, I’ve learned that Dick had only taken a handful of sick days in his 42 years of service. Dick has often spoken highly of Lyman Orchards Golf Club and has promoted the golf course and all their benefits of being a member. I find it very disheartening that the management at the golf club told him that his position was eliminated just a few weeks prior to the start of his 43rd year as their pro.
The way in which Dick was relieved of his duties is not a professional way of eliminating a longstanding and dedicated employee. Therefore, I will not seek a membership at your Golf Club. I feel that Lyman Orchards Golf Club has done a disservice to the golfing community by releasing a highly respected PGA professional in Middlesex County.
Alex Coriaty
East Lyme

State must act to protect private health care information

If you are concerned about having control over the privacy of your personal health information, then please contact your legislators to support proposed House Bill 5737 now before the Public Health Committee.
HB 5737 would give us the ability to decide whether want our health insurance claims data to be stored by a private company in a centralized All-Payer Claims Database – APCD (HB 5038, 2012).
This data would be all our medical diagnoses, drugs prescribed, doctors seen, with dates of visits, hospitalizations and procedures, along with our race, ethnicity and demographics that would be released to employees of the Department of Public Health and Access Health CT (the new Connecticut Health Insurance Exchange), researchers and to the public.
The state agencies may be able to see our medical claims information in an identified form, and that which is released publicly may be seen in an aggregated and/or de-identified form.
 But taking away our names, id number, and the month and day, but not the year of medical events, still leaves the data easily re-identifiable with all that would be left of our medical histories. Our employers, co-workers, or neighbors could possibly recognize us by our illnesses, broken bones and the years of our children’s births, for examples. We need HB 5737 to decide how much risk to our privacy we wish to take, as there will be the inevitable leaks and hackers. Not only would this database be the mother lode for identify theft, but for exposure of some of our most intimate information.
Susan Israel

Help, don't condemn, people like Nancy Lanza

When I made the decision to share my story of mental illness and mention Nancy Lanza in the same interview I knew it would generate some discussion. Some positive, some negative. My voice was heard. For that, I thank you. I wanted to speak as a mother, and also because Nancy Lanza is no longer here to speak for herself.
Nancy Lanza was not a victim. She was a women struggling alone trying to survive in a world where the mental health system is in need of a complete overhaul. A system that is fractured and desperately in need of repair. We can appoint committees but does one ever see a parent appointed on one of these committees? I know, I tried recently. I wanted to be part of change in the system. I wanted to put a face to the Nancy Lanza's in the world.
We do not know what life was like daily for her and her son. Some of us do, but thankfully most of you don't. Do some question if Nancy Lanza struggled because of how much money she had? Yes. I can tell you that money cannot make a mentally ill loved one healthy. I am sure if money could have bought her son his health, he would have been well. We would not be having this discussion.
Nancy Lanza may not have worked outside of her home, but I can tell you, she worked and she worked hard. She cared for her son the best way that she could. We as mothers and or fathers work every minute of everyday when we have to provide care for a loved one who struggles with this devastating illness.
When you are caring for a loved one especially one who is suffering with untreated mental illness, you enjoy every moment that you can. She was able to share the one interest both her and her sons enjoyed. Unfortunately, it cost her and many others their lives.
Was Adam Lanza "unstable?" He certainly was Dec 14. Did Nancy Lanza think she along with many others including her son were going to die that day? I think not. As a mother the last thing you ever want to believe is that your child, your loved one is capable of committing such a horrific act.
Yes, there has to be changes made in the treatment of people with mental illness. The stigma that accompanies this illness is terrible both for the suffer and their families. Struggling to have access to services is a nightmare. As a mother of a mentally ill loved one the same age of Adam Lanza, I feel the need to be a voice for the Nancy Lanza's in the world. Help us, please! Don't condemn us.
Are we angry? Are we mad? You bet we are. But direct those words to those that can help make a change. You can be part of the change. A long overdue change. Contact the Governor, contact ANYONE that will listen to you and express the inadequacies that exist in the mental health system.Speak up. It's your right to be heard.
We will all be victims unless we direct our voices to those that need to hear us.
Marie Romano

Rabbits don't belong in cages

I am writing in response to the letter written on "Bunnies are10-year commitments."
I am a proud owner of a rabbit. Our rabbit is an indoor rabbit that has the run of the house. He is like a dog. He is litter-trained, watches TV with us and lays by the fire. He waits for us to wake up and to come home.
They are extremely social animals and should not be used as a holiday pawn, to satisfy a child's whim. It makes me very angry and sad to know that bunnies are in their cages and not getting exercise or socialized.
Please don't get a bunny because they are cute. Get a bunny to enrich your life. They are loyal and loving animals.They are a member of your family. Please make Saint Francis and our new Pope Francis proud!
Lisa DeGrand

Persecution of gun owners compared to Jews in Nazi Germany

For decades, we have taught our children not to profile or stereotype people. But as I see the New Haven Register political cartoons, editorials, and read the letters to the editor, this is exactly what you are doing. You have stereotyped every law abiding owner of any firearm as an unintelligent, inebriated, irresponsible, unkempt, and an undesirable person in our state.
In the 63 years I have lived in Connecticut, my only legal infractions have been two speeding tickets. Yet because I own a .22 bolt action rifle with a detachable clip, I am characterized as a dangerous an undesirable citizen of our state. During the recent public hearings on gun regulation, the anti-gun advocates characterized all gun owners as the next “Adam Lanzas.” What a narrow-minded and vengeful stereotype. And they will pass this outlook to their children. I am gaining a greater sense of how the German Jewish people felt during World War II.
This continued propagation of the “Undesirables” stereotype will lead, and is already resulting in an absolute polarization of our society. A deep distrust and intolerance of each other. And these feelings of distrust will linger for decades. So rather than working together to address all our state’s issues, we will face off and hurl insults against each other.
As a reminder, many of us “Undesirables” serve our communities and our state in various medical, legal, social support, educational, and public safety capacities. And many have served our country in combat: some even losing their limbs and mobility.
I really wish the politicians, contributors to your newspaper and readers would display the same anger and intolerance at criminals as they display to law abiding citizens who happen to own a firearm.
W. Richard Spearrin

Suburban family wants in on New Haven magnet school excellence

Just like the many college and grad school admissions notices that will soon be flooding the mailboxes of thousands of anxious high school seniors and graduate school hopefuls in the next few weeks across the state, our letter was thin and single page. A rejection notice, no doubt. I knew it as soon as I saw the return address: Public Schools of Choice, Magnet School Programs Center, New Haven Public Schools.
Like my own past collection of college and law school rejection letters from many years ago, it is still not easy to handle the range of emotions that ran through my head and heart yesterday. However, this notice was not for a 56-year old dad, but for a 3-year old son. A first born child.
The New Haven Public Schools (NHPS) is offering an education program that I want for my son that my hometown is not able or not willing to offer. The 2013 New Haven Interdistrict Magnet Schools brochure claims, “John D. Daniels School of International Communication is first and foremost a dual language school. Students in K-5 will be taught 50 percent in English, 50 percent in Spanish…” My son and I visited the Interdistrict Open House program and the school in January. He liked it and I liked it. But… “We regret to inform you that the student named above was not placed in any of the magnet school(s) you applied for in the lottery that was conducted on March 20. There were approximately 8,500 applicants and less than 2,500 seats available in PreK-3 to 12th grade.”
Thoughts of Elizabeth Kubler-Ross rushed through my head: Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Compromise, Acceptance.
But wait! This is not about death and dying. Yet. This is about a child’s education. My child’s and other children’s education. His future, their future, our future. Do I just walk away and accept this as a fait accompli? If there are about 8,500 out of district students and families wanting “in” to the NHPS, why isn’t the NHPS doing more to accommodate this demand? Or why can’t the NHPS partner with bordering school systems accommodate this demand?
Where are all the state level public education experts and officials yelping about the achievement gap between urban and suburban schools? What does their research show? Are they aware that in the New Haven area there are 6,000 suburban families, like ours, wanting our children to be accepted into highly desirable and exemplary New Haven Public School programs like the Daniels School? Exactly who are my fellow suburbanistas who want the type of public education being offered by the NHPS?
In last year’s statistics for the Daniels Interdistrict School’s PreK-3 class, there were 114 applicants for 20 seats, 1 in 6 possibility, or 16% chance of acceptance. Where did the other 96 children/families go? If you are one of these families or parents, let’s unite! Let’s open up our own schools! I’m not waiting around for the waiting list to get to number 29, which is never. My son’s education is too important to leave to a lottery system.
Sylvester L. Salcedo, Esq.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Autism and Fragile X Syndrome, and the promise of research

In the past year, ground-breaking research has uncovered precise genetic links between autism and Fragile X syndrome giving families like ours hope that treatment for many of the core symptoms of both conditions is on the horizon. New drugs currently in clinical trials have been shown to have a significant effect on reducing the symptoms of severe social impairment in people with autism or Fragile X syndrome. Many families in Connecticut are participating in these exciting trials. Both of our children are affected by Fragile X. Reducing repetitive behaviors and improving social skills would allow our family members to lead more independent lives.
While most people know about autism and autism spectrum disorders, not as many are aware of Fragile X syndrome. Fragile X is closely related to autism, is the most common inherited cause of intellectual disabilities and is the most common genetic cause of autism.
It is imperative that the advancements made through these ground-breaking research projects continue to be built upon. We have just returned from Washington, D.C., where we met with members of Congress to raise awareness of Fragile X, this breakthrough research and its potential. Wise stewardship of federal research dollars would encourage continued investment and expand the scope of research into the links between Fragile x and autism.
The promise of this research gives hope to many of us in Connecticut who have family members with autism and Fragile X syndrome that independence and social acceptance are within reach in our lifetime.
Tamara Selinger
West Hartford

Connecticut needs good government reform, fiscal discipline, level playing field

Since I moved to the Black Rock section of Bridgeport, Connecticut, from the Mt. Vernon section of Alexandria, Virginia, three years ago, I have been impressed with the people and the quality of life in Connecticut. At the same time, in addition to the high cost-of-living, I have discovered three shocking facts that serve to threaten the state’s financial future and domestic tranquility.
The first is that a loophole in a state law passed in the early 1990s has resulted in some city and town employees serving on their respective city and town councils, even if it is contrary to the city or town charter that was ratified by local voters. This is a direct violation of basic good governance principles, especially given the huge and readily apparent conflicts of interest in situations when such individuals express their views and vote on city/town budget and labor contract matters. Fortunately, HB 5724, which is designed to close the current loophole, is currently pending in the state legislature. It is critically important that citizens encourage their elected officials to support this nonpartisan and good government bill. After all, poor governance practices in cities and towns can force the state to assume additional local obligations over time. The result would be even higher taxes for all Connecticut taxpayers.
The second point relates to the fact that Connecticut has the highest liabilities and unfunded promises per taxpayer of all 50 states. This is due largely to huge underfunded pension plans and unfunded retiree health obligations. This fact combined with the state’s relatively poor economic performance and job creation record means that, absent truly transformational reforms, Connecticut’s already high taxes are likely to increase.
Third, Connecticut is one of only two states in the union that does not have county government. The result is that Connecticut has become a land of disparities. This is particularly true in connection with Connecticut’s K-12 education system and local property tax burdens. While I do not advocate adding another layer of government, voluntary regional agreements are needed in order to provide government services in a more economical and efficient manner. In addition, in the absence of county government, the state needs to step up and address some of these disparities before the resulting inequities threaten the state’s domestic tranquility.
David M. Walker
Former U.S. Comptroller General
Citizens 4 A Better Bridgeport

Congress should act to stop closing of local postal centers

Help stop the needless displacement of 1,200 Connecticut postal workers and their families to New York and Massachusetts. Write and call Congress and demand that the U.S. Postal Service keep the Wallingford Processing and Distribution Center open, continue first class service, maintain current delivery standards, and keep our jobs and mail in Connecticut, not shipped out of state.
Why? In 2006, a Republican-controlled Congress and President George W. Bush approved the “Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act.” This law required that by 2016, the Post Office must pre-pay postal service retirees’ health-care benefits for the next 75 years.
That includes future benefits for employees not yet hired, even not yet born! That impossibility began a suicidal spiral intended to kill the U.S. Postal Service and privatize its services.
The craze for privatization began with President Ronald Reagan’s famous statement: “Government IS the problem.” Privatization - called “free enterprise” - would get the post office out of our mail boxes and hand mail service over to private entities like Fed-Ex and UPS. Goal of these private businesses is PROFIT, not public service, and there’s no profit in serving rural areas.
The U.S. Post Office pays its way by selling stamps and other products and has not taken any tax dollars since 1971.
This fault lies with Congress, which created the financial disaster, described above. It’s time for Congress to read the U.S. Constitution, which says: “Congress shall have the power to establish Post Offices (Article 1, Section 8).” That doesn’t mean destroy post offices.
Thank you for your support and help.
David Franklin

Target gun industry like we targeted tobacco

We as a nation experience approximately 12,000 deaths a year, people being shot by gun holders, plus some 19,000 suicides by guns every year.
Surely enactment of controls will not eradicate those figures, but neither can we ignore them. I have never in my life smoked, but we might ask - how many workers lost their job as a result of the campaign to reduce smoking> Where are those legislators who so aggressively went after the officers and managers of the cigarette companies? Many of them were accused of knowingly producing a product that caused deaths.
Why weren’t those same charges made against producers of weapons that can cause multiple deaths and ammunition that can pierce bulletproof vests usually worn by police?
Dominic L. Giulietti
New Haven

Are doctor's rates related to Yale-New Haven takeover?

In reference to Yale-New Haven Hospital merging with Saint Raphael’s, I don’t know if there are yet big changes at St. Raphael’s Hospital, but I do know that Yale is incorporating many doctor’s practices under their wing.
Recently two of my doctors (primary and gastroenterologist) came under Yale-New Haven Hospital. My gastroenterologist, whom I have gone to forever, would charge $88 for a visit. Upon my last visit for a 10-minute stay, I was billed $220. Quite a hike from $88. My primary doctor for bloodwork charged $625 and $436 for a follow-up visit.
Fortunately, my insurance company did not pay these inflated charges, but what if I didn’t have insurance and had to pay them? Something has to be done about these inflated charges. How high will they go once Yale-New Haven Hospital takes over the entire network of doctors? Is this what Yale plans to do?
We as ratepayers should all write to our insurance companies and complain. Would we get results if we did? Only way to find out is to do so, or someday we may not be able to afford to go to any doctor.
Andrew Lucibello
East Haven

Crime's not so bad, and gun owners aren't the problem

As a retiree I value my family, my health, and my safety. With the new gun laws being contemplated, some of these proposals, if put into law, will force me to change my habits, add to my costs and add a new level of risk for me and my family. I am a gun owner because I enjoy shooting and a side benefit is to keep me and my family safe.
The media always reports the homicide rate as being amongst the worst in the world (which sadly it is), but rarely report that we enjoy a lower rate of crime in most other categories.
Our rates for forcible rape, robbery, aggravated assault, motor vehicle theft, burglary and others are well below the rates of other countries. A female is twice (or higher) as apt to get forcibly raped in countries with strict gun laws as in the USA.
Now, why do I find one of the current proposals ridiculous. Most of the magazines I own carry 12 to 14 rounds. The reasons is simple, save time and money. When I go shooting, I preload (at home) my magazines and only buy 30 minutes of range time. I can shoot all of my magazines without reloading (or worst case, reloading once). That means I can concentrate on my shooting and this represents a saving of at least $15 to $20 for each practice session. As a retiree, every dollar counts.
Politicians are riding a curve of emotion, not thinking about the more practical effects of restricting smaller magazines, or the type of gun one owns, or preventing one to pass down a firearm to a family member without a background check. The media, who fully support the politicians, misleads by not publishing all the facts. All of these will raise the cost of gun ownership, limit their peaceful use and contribute to higher crime in a multiple of categories.
So, enforce current laws, increase spending (care) on mental health, but leave me alone, as I am not the problem. I am part of the solution as by keeping my shooting skills up, I can protect myself and my family.
Donald Kennedy

Don't close regional Post Office operations

While we all decry opening the mailbox to its stuffing of catalogs, I think that the mail service is still a viable method of communication. Now the poverty-stricken Post Office announces that it will close our regional offices in Wallingford and Stamford. I believe Wallingford routes our mail from the localities. Rep. Rosa DeLauro issued a press release March 27 against such a move. Our Madison representative is Joe Courtney. I have emailed him to express my agreement with DeLauro’s statement, and asked him to follow suit. I ask readers to contact their local representative to stop the Post Office’s desperate move. A postal employee in Guilford told me that we can say goodbye to next day mail, among other changes.
Vitaline O’Toole

The perks of a taxpayer-funded retirement

I am 66 years old. I graduated from college, served in the military for two years, worked for two after that and attended law school on the GI bill. I have practiced law for 35 years and am still working. My annual retirement income including Social Security is not projected to nearly approach the $80,000-plus per year that Chief Collins will receive at the relatively tender age of 53. I suspect that there there may be a COLA in his package and that his health benefits will be prodigious as well.
Additionally, the distinct probability exists that the chief will obtain employment in a fire marshal or similar position, have a combined income of substantially more than the $103,000 he received as chief of the West Shore and possibly be in line for another pension benefit. Is it any wonder that many of our towns and cities are in such dire fiscal straits? A sincere good luck to Chief Collins. The fact is that many of our towns and cities have been the self-inflicted victims of prolonged giveaways without even the remotest regard as to how these tabs will be paid.
William J. Sarris

A symbolic stand for gay marriage and equality

You know what really frustrates me? Ignorance. And this past week, I saw more ignorance than I ever hoped to see.
The Supreme Court of the United States deliberated California’s Proposition 8, which bans the right for same-sex couples to marry, and the national Defense of Marriage Act, which has legally defined marriage as a union between a man and a woman since 1996.
As many people across the Internet did on Tuesday, I changed my Facebook profile picture to that of a pink equal sign on a red background. The icon was promoted by the Human Rights Campaign, an advocacy group which “seeks to improve the lives of LGBT Americans,” to show support for marriage equality.
I did this because I am personally a strong supporter of the marriage equality movement. I believe that every man and woman should have the right to choose who they marry – whether it be of the same gender or the opposite gender. Who am I to tell you who you are legally allowed to love?
I know that people will have opposing views of mine, and that is perfectly fine. It shows that this is a very important topic to many and should be treated as such. For us, as a whole, to be happy, there is no right or wrong answer; there is compromise. And compromise will come once all of the opinions are voiced.
In between the opinions on both sides of the table are those opinions I despise the most. You have all seen them. They are posted by people who feel they will not be able to make a difference or are unaffected by the topic. And these opinions not just posted for public display, but many times as a mockery of the situation.
As I looked through my social media feeds, a few quotes in particular stuck out to me: “I support marriage equality, but changing my Facebook picture isn’t going to change anything.”
“You’re not changing any minds by making this your Facebook profile picture. Why don’t you get out and do something to make a real difference instead?”
“I was going to change my picture to an equal sign. Then I realized that I really don’t care. Sorry.”
Every person is entitled to their own opinion, and I am not here to argue that. But I am here to leave each of you with a challenge: become aware of all of the facts before creating and voicing your opinion. Make your opinion count by making it relevant to other people. Persuade me to see your point of view.
You are right; by changing my Facebook picture, I will not sway the Supreme Court justices one way or another. I don’t expect to. And I will not be heard through this channel by elected officials. So what good is my action?
The beauty of social media is that every voice will be heard. I have the ability to let all of my friends and followers know how I feel about this. And maybe, this will be support that someone out there who really wants to be comfortable talking about their sexuality, but is not yet. And maybe, this will be the awareness that someone needs to become interested enough in the topic to do some research and form their own opinion. And maybe, this will enlighten voters on a topic that will be raised when local and national congressional elections are held this November. And maybe, through education and awareness, we can get every voter-eligible American to take a look at the issues and form an opinion before choosing to vote or not to vote.
The bottom line is yes, I don’t expect to have a direct impact on the immediate decision when voicing my opinion. But I do know I can make a difference in someone’s life, and that is everything to me. So next time, before voicing an opinion, make sure you know what is going on and give it some thought. Ignorance is bliss.
Andrew McDermott
West Hartford

Crime reduction in New Haven starts with the schools

There is no way to make a dent in the crime situation in New Haven without seriously examining the education system. Schools must address the issues that are plaguing this city, and education must teach the values and skills that are necessary for students not only to succeed in this world, but also to feel connected to society. An effective education system must keep up with the shifting social and cultural landscape.
Students cannot be expected to buy into an education system that they perceive to be archaic and irrelevant. Schools must address the needs of all children on every socio-economic level.
There are many teachers who think outside of the box and consider their students’ and society’s needs, but the Board of Education should encourage all teachers to take a more creative approach to teaching by stressing the skills our students should master so that they can become successful, productive individuals who make positive contributions to society.
The English language curriculum should not be based on boring textbooks filled with culturally irrelevant material that does not interest students.
Teachers should use Internet and newspaper articles as well as a wide variety of literature that students can relate to in terms of theme or setting when they read.
The more students read, the more they are exposed to characters, conflicts and themes that they can relate to in their lives. Students in English language and literature should be reading about one novel a month to build the reading, writing, communication and analytical skills they need to succeed in school and in life.
Outdated and irrelevant material in textbooks and other literature does not lend itself to teaching the values that today’s students need to be taught.
Identify those values that we need to build in today’s society and allow teachers to choose literature that addresses these values and issues. These values include empathy, integrity, independence, leadership, collaboration, honesty, confidence, patience, perseverance and commitment. Teachers must be able to choose books with high interest/low reading level for students who struggle with reading.
Major problems the education system needs to address:
Problem: The Board of Education needs to address anger issues among teenagers. Reading literature that addresses anger issues and discussing these issues in class are ways of providing a forum to recognize and deal with anger in schools.
This push-button, instant messaging, click the channel-changing, cell phone culture does not teach young people to have the patience to consider the consequences of their actions. Teenagers act or react to situations rather than think through a problem. Our children’s world is about instant gratification and this does not lead to the value of earning something through hard work.
Impulsivity must be dealt with through discussion, literature and long-term assignments that are relevant to students’ lives while demonstrating the benefits of waiting for an outcome.
A long-term writing assignment in which students have to demonstrate language skills by writing letters to students in another school in New Haven would eventually develop their writing skills.
Listening skills have eroded to the point that students cannot obey simple commands like “Be quiet.” Listening skills are essential for personal and professional relationships. Create more opportunities for listening using songs, old radio recordings and guest speakers.
Since nothing has meaning for students outside of a grade, reading aloud to students at all ages and giving oral quizzes would help to build those skills. Use well-timed Internet or newspaper articles or an interesting excerpt from a book.
We live in a world that is becoming increasingly materialistic. Things matter more than people. The “things” that our children want become outdated quickly so it is an endless pressure to keep up with the latest products that are in vogue.
Every school should require community service projects that help students to understand the value of individuals, their community and their country.
Yvonne Patricia O’Brien, MSW

Saturday, April 13, 2013

A pedestrian nightmare on Route 34

Please allow me to respond to your recent article, “City begins Route 34 project,” with a description of what the beginning of the project has meant to one worker who must walk on College Street every day to get to my job in the 300 George St. building.
To be sure, crossing the College Street bridge in winter means sliding through the ice and snow left from whatever storm has been through recently as no one ever shovels or sands the sidewalks. However, I have walked this way for the past two years without incident.
Since a week ago Thursday, when College Street changed from a three-lane “boulevard” to a narrow two-lane street, all that has changed for the pedestrians and bicyclists that are supposedly to benefit from this project. Motorists coming down College Street must merge from three lanes to two to cross the bridge. No warning signs have been obvious although as of this Thursday one of the lanes approaching the bridge was shut off with a line of cones. The motorists coming off Exit 2 and trying to turn left onto College Street are frustrated at the new configuration of traffic and try to beat the light. Those who actually stop for the light have invented a new traffic rule, left hand turn on red, or my personal favorite the tandem left hand turn on red!
As a pedestrian waiting for the walk signal you are serenaded with an endless symphony of car horns from the near miss traffic accidents. Now the walk light comes on, you step off the curb and one of the cars takes that opportunity to proceed around the corner. Unforturnately, the pedestrian is in his way. Since this project started, I have been almost run down three times, in a 10-day period. Now imagine if you will the bicyclist coming down College Street toward the bridge. What happens when you have two lanes of traffice squeezing past the Jersey barriers and put a bicycle in the mix? Do people slow down and allow the bike to proceed with traffic? Is there room for two cars and a bike on that bridge? The answer is just barely. Is this an accident waiting to happen?
And what will actually happen to downtown New Haven when the only exit open is Exit 1? Don’t you see the logjams caused by the traffic to Gateway Community College? Mayor Destefano says there are other ways into New Haven but when one way has been the major entrance for 60 years that is three generations of people. You need more than a statement in a newspaper. Where are the signs? How about police directing traffic? You don’t see any of them over at the College Street bridge.
So while the mayor of New Haven and the Governor of Connecticut are congratulating themselves tossing their shovels full of dirt and patting themselves on the back for a job well done, I suggest that the architects of the proposed 100 College St. building start planning space for a memorial plaque listing the names of all the pedestrians and bicyclists killed during the construction. For that matter, after they had put away their shovels, the mayor and the governor should have tried to cross the College Street bridge. Whoever it was at the State Department of Transportation who approved of this mess, should be fired.
Paula Hurlburt
West Haven

Dave Ruotolo will be missed by local Little Leaguers

The local youth sports world lost one of its most faithful friends March 13. Dave Ruotolo, the Connecticut Little League District 4 administrator, lost his battle with a long illness.
Dave spent many, many years volunteering his time and efforts to make sure that all girls and boys in this area that wanted to play softball or baseball would be able to in an organized way. He was a fixture at the local fields, taking in games and enjoying the sports that he so loved.
With the start of the 2013 softball and baseball seasons quickly approaching, I know that Dave had planned ahead to ensure that all the kids of his Little League District will have a successful season. Dave was a selfless man who went through his life helping others. He especially was a true champion for the girls in the local softball programs. Many of us saw how proud and happy he was this past summer when his District 4's Juniors softball team won the Eastern Regional Tournament that he has been hosting for the past 20 years, earning them a spot in the Softball World Series in Kirkland, Washington.
With tears flowing from his eyes after the win he clearly showed his passion for the game, his dedication to "his" softball girls and the love for his daughter Jocelyn, who was the head coach. I am forever grateful for what Dave has done not only for my three daughters, but for all the kids in the area Little League programs.
Kathy and family, it is with true admiration and deeply felt gratitude that he will live on in each of our hearts forever. 
Frank Koches
Frank Koshes is past vice president of Orange Little League Softball and father of Katie, who was the pitcher for Dave's District 4 World Series team.

Cartoon mocking Pope Francis shows media slant

In Rob Rogers’ political cartoon in the March 24 New Haven Register, it shows Pope Francis with the caption “1st Latino Pope, 1st Jesuit Pope, 1st Francis Pope — 266th Conservative Pope.”
No doubt Rogers’ intention was to mock the intransigence of the Catholic Church on matters of doctrine, moral teachings, marriage, abortion, requirements for priesthood, etc. Yet faithful Catholics viewing that cartoon no doubt were reminded that for 2,000 years, when the Catholic Church sometimes was led by saintly popes, sometimes by evil popes, and sometimes by relatively mediocre popes, this Church never has wavered on its teachings, which it bases on the twin pillars of Bible and Patristic Tradition.
The secular media continues to express dismay that all indications suggest these unfashionable teachings will be upheld by Pope Francis. Thus it’s particularly appropriate for that secular sentiment to be expressed in a comic, since the notion that the Catholic Church will change these teachings—and thereby change its very identity — is, in fact, quite comical.
Christopher Schaefer
New Haven

Tired of government over-reach in reaction to Sandy Hook shooting

I’m tired…
The disaster at Sandy Hook was a tragic and senseless event perpetrated by a madman. I particularly empathize with the families of the victims and the residents of Newtown in general.
I am, however, tired of those people pushing to punish me for a crime I did not commit.
I am tired of position seeking, career building politicians punishing me to enhance their public image and advance to higher or federal office.
I am losing respect for those who govern, as are my friends and neighbors.
I am tired of the media whining.
I am tired of it, and I suspect there are about 180,000 or more Connecticut residents who are also.
I have started to push back. At least some other residents I know have started to push back. We know that, aside from the pending violations of the Fourth, Fifth and Sixth Amendments by our state government, if the Second Amendment goes away, the First Amendment will follow it.
If the government oppresses and punishes innocent people by denying constitutional rights, there will be a revolution at the ballot box in coming elections.
Howard P. Thomas

Orange should deny Boy Scouts use of town property

I am heartened by former First Selectman Mitch Goldblatt’s statement urging that the use of the public property known as Orange Fairgrounds be denied to the Boy Scouts of America because of their policy of discrimination against gays and lesbians. And equally, I am dismayed that the Board of Selectmen voted to allow its use.
While I deplore the position of the Boy Scouts of America, at the heart is the fact that the Orange Fairgrounds is public property and the board is entrusted, certainly by me as a resident, to consider its use ethically.
Were an organization to be anti-black, anti-Catholic, anti-Jewish, I would expect my elected representatives to uphold the constitutional provisions that state that all men/women are created equal….and to insist that public grounds are not meant for exclusionary organizations nor meant to endorse, accept, turn an eye or in any way acknowledge the legitimacy of discrimination in whatever form it may exist….in this instance, in the form of the Boy Scouts of America.
Can you reverse your opinion? I don’t know. I do believe that your decision to use your seven minute “smart phone research” to focus on assessing the organization’s First Amendment rights was an error. In fact, as our public representatives, the only issue I believe you were charged to research was the appropriate the use of Orange public property within an ethical, moral and constitutional framework.
I am deeply disappointed in my town leaders and ashamed by the decision you reached.
Martha Sue Weisbart

New Haven charter changes must put taxpayers first

After reading the article on the “Ideas Suggested on Charter Change,” I immediately, as a taxpayer and lifelong resident of the city of New Haven, had to respond for several reasons.
First, none of the groups give any indication of the inclusion of the taxpayers who will be ultimately affected by these decisions, and weather or not the taxpayers currently have any input in those recommendations. Not taking into consideration the option of student aldermen should raise hairs, as this committee may not be aware that this is a blatant act to exclude any attempt made by the taxpayers to learn more about their city government, who is ultimately responsible for how their family budgets will be affected.
Second, the decision to determine whether members of the Board of Education should be appointed or elected, again, should be determined by the taxpayers, who eventually would be fitting that bill. It is bad enough that parents are not able to enroll their children in the neighborhood schools that they live in because of the decisions made by appointed board members who have no affiliation whatsoever to these neighborhoods.
As it applies to the office of mayor, city clerk, aldermen and registrar of voters, and their term limits, this responsibility should not be placed in the hands of a few people whose ties to the city are not known, and whose position will inevitably be supported by taxpayer monies the like. In the end, regardless of what your title or position is within the city. The voters will ultimately determine if you should stay or be removed.
This is what has caused the resistance and rebellion in countries like Syria, Egypt, Russia, and many third world countries. Leaders in government, whether on a state or local level, will eventually see the results of their disapproval, and not necessarily at the polls before, during, or after election time. Anyone who has had their car towed for taxes has already felt that pain.
Taking away the voice of the taxpayer via these secret charter revision committees to determine what’s best for them and their families, is a recipe for continued frustration and disdain towards elected officials by the struggling taxpayers.
The 5-0 votes to increase the stipend for the aldermen, and simultaneously advocating against the removal of the vehicle property tax, should also be a red flag. Gov. Dannel P. Malloy was prudent in this decision to propose this legislation. This is another form of corporate welfare that has been enforced with strong-arm tactics, to preserve the convenient lifestyles of the typical city official at the expense of the First Amendment-deprived taxpayer.
In addition to the false information that the committees are not allowed to consider residency requirements for current and future city employees, and that they do not have the legal authority to set term limits, contradicts the purpose of revising charters in the first place. What purpose do you serve to modify a charter, if all options to do so are impeded by the special interests of non-city residents? This is where the problem originated.
In any event, regardless of what term limits may be, and whether all fire, police and board of education personnel should be required to live in the city, the final decision should be of the taxpayers, who have supported the lavish salaries of appointed city officials for far too long. Most don’t reside in the city. There should be no time devoted to the definition of residency, as you either live in the town that pays your salary, or you don’t.
It has been said many times over that it takes a “Wise Man” to learn from his mistakes, but it takes a “Wiser” man to learn form the mistakes of others. The decisions of the charter review committee once it is final, will clearly in the “near “future,” determine whether they have the best interest of the taxpayers in the city of New Haven at heart or not.
Maurice W. Smith
New Haven

Navigating your way through health care reform in Connecticut

By Jan. 1, 2014, the Affordable Health Care Act, commonly known as Obamacare will be in full implementation. In an attempt to sort out how it will affect Connecticut citizens, we must first understand what this legislation is not. The 2100 plus page document signed into law by President Obama in the Spring of 2010 is NOT a national health insurance plan. It is a regulatory bill on every aspect of medical care from the patient to the manufacturer of almost any health related product. There are dozens of new taxes that will affect every citizen with no regard to their level of income.
First and foremost, every U.S. citizen is required to have health insurance by Jan. 1, 2014. This coverage for most of us can be obtained in one of three ways. First, if your employer provides health insurance, you may continue to be provided coverage in this manner. However, there is an enormous amount of uncertainty as to how employers will handle providing coverage after 2013. Every indication seems to be trending to much higher costs for any type of coverage in 2014.
Most small employers in Connecticut have already reached the breaking point of cost with the plans they are providing. These higher costs are driven by dozens of new government mandates requiring that many procedures be covered in full with little or no payment by the insured. This type of coverage will lead to much higher premiums in the future. Employers are also being burdened with premium taxes, new I.R.S. tax reporting and more complicated full disclosure to their employees about any potential changes in coverage. All of this and more, may lead many employers to discontinue providing coverage.
This result may be very widespread among smaller employers, where 80 percent of the American population works. This may leave many of us with the choice or going into the marketplace to acquire coverage as an individual. Most Connecticut citizens will be able to do this in one of two ways. Individuals can purchase coverage directly from any insurance company licensed to do business in Connecticut. There are only about six companies left in Connecticut selling coverage. Most of them have already been driven out of Connecticut by 25 plus years of state government regulation in requiring hundreds of mandates in every policy that have increased costs. It has been predicted, that family rates could be as high as $25,000 per year for family coverage. Please keep in mind that the law will require you to buy coverage. If you don’t have employer coverage or medicare, you will be forced to buy a plan or face scrutiny by the federal government, with the IRS as the enforcement arm.
The other alternative is to buy this coverage from an approved insurance company through the state-operated insurance exchange. Depending on your income, individuals may be able to get a federal subsidy to help pay for the insurance. This may sound like a solution for some, however it does have its own potential problem. Under the current law, the federal subsidy is only for a limited period of time, hardly a long term solution to a growing problem. In addition, it has been reported that the application process on the exchange may require an individual to complete more than a 20-page application. In my opinion, all of this will only increase cost and may ultimately leave more people without coverage. These were the two things your elected officials promised would not happen when this bill was signed into law.
There are free market solutions that could begin to solve the problem. There is no doubt that there will be enormous confusion and market disruption as this law phases in next year. Those of us in this industry fought hard to give our input to legislators, but frankly, nearly every idea was rejected. Every citizen needs to give feedback on this issue beginning now and in the near future. This legislation can be fixed to help us all if we let our political leaders hear our voices.
Tony Piccolo
Managing Partner, The Connecticut Health Insurance Exchange LLC

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Family of Gabby Hudak thanks Hamden

The Hudak family wishes to express our heartfelt appreciation to the many people who have sent their love and support to us as we deal with the loss of our precious Gabby. The community of Hamden, our friends and neighbors, the police and fire department and the Hamden Public Schools have overwhelmed us with their generosity and love. Their outpouring of support reminds us what a special girl Gabby was and of the many lives she touched. We take comfort in knowing the big impact that such a little girl could have on the lives of so many.
With great appreciation,
Joseph, Adriana and Laska Hudak