The triumph of economy over morality — a solution to the DACA problem

Whatever is illegal and immoral becomes legal and moral in direct proportion to local, state, and federal governments’ needs for tax revenues. Therein lies Congress’s solution to the DACA debate. All it has to do is declare immediately all “Dreamers” as legal immigrants and levy a special tax against them for the privilege of being legitimized.

Overdose kit distribution: A how to guide

I’m not much of a host. But with the opioid epidemic getting worse, I knew we had to start doing overdose-kit distributions. The whys seem obvious. As a medical director for a large mental health and substance abuse non-profit agency —CMHA in New Britain— I see too much death. The toxicology reports from the state’s medical examiner increasingly come back positive for fentanyl, which is now present in over 50 percent of our fatal ODs. At 50 to several-thousand-times-more potent than morphine, fentanyls—yes, there are more than 20— from China have thrown gas onto the fire of America’s opioid epidemic.

Put students first: Close the CSCU system, disband the Board of Regents

The “Students First” plan proposed by the CSCU Board of Regents, intended to save $28 million by consolidating the state’s 12 community colleges, has engendered frustration among system faculty due to the lack of visible research or analysis proving that the plan will realize the projected savings. Faculty, therefore, were taken by surprise when a recent CT Mirror article reported that the accrediting agency, the New England Association of Schools and Colleges, had given feedback on a draft plan for the Students First initiative submitted to it by the Board of Regents. 

An opportunity to do right by Hartford students

As a Hartford teacher of 28 years, I’ve seen how inequitable state funding deprives our students of true educational opportunity. Shrinking budgets year after year mean students have few, if any, advanced courses to choose from, and elective courses like art and music, designed to catalyze students’ creativity and ingenuity, are often entirely eliminated.

A prescription for a better health care system for Bezos, Buffett and Dimon

As a primary care physician who’s worked in the trenches for 31 years, I’d like to offer some advice to Jeff Bezos, Warren Buffett and Jamie Dimon as they prepare to tackle the health care system. If you want to improve health, increase access and lower the cost of health care, you need to emphasize primary care at all levels of the system: individual patients, patient populations, insurance companies, pharmaceutical companies, and hospital systems.

To put this into perspective, consider the cost of American health care compared to outcomes. In 2015, the United States spent almost three times the amount on health care as countries with comparable incomes. This data was reported by the Organization for Economic Corporation and Development (OECD), a group of 35 countries with advanced economies that works to promote economic development.

Regional governance: Not an option, but a necessity

The issue of regional cooperation, regionalism, regional governance is gradually rising from a faint whisper to an almost audible level of tone in the Land of Steady Habits where the myth of municipal home rule reigns supreme.  I have been involved with issues of regional cooperation for close to 30 years in various capacities. I have observed the concept progressing in symbolic or fragmented ways, a little here, a little there; but not in the systemic ways that can achieve a more dynamic economy, and overcome the many constraints we now experience in our current mode of state/municipal governance

Sovereign immunity and Connecticut’s pension obligations

For those who have been following its economic and tax fortunes, Connecticut has been lagging behind other states and has a millstone of unfunded pension liabilities around its neck. Depending on whom you ask, the unfunded pension liabilities for the State Employee Retirement System and the Teacher’s Retirement Fund are $39 billion, if government standards are applied, they are in excess of $100 billion if private sector accounting standards are applied. While Connecticut has contributed more to these pensions in the last few years, Connecticut at the same time has been losing population; seen more capital and high earners leave the state than enter the state; and the budget shortfalls continue unabated.

Our failure to achieve educational equality is an embarrassment

The provision of an adequate education for all young people living in Connecticut is a requirement, and access to quality education should not be dependent on a child’s family income or zip code.  As reported by Jacqueline Rabe Thomas in her June 2, 2017, piece for the CT Mirror, in the 20 years since the landmark Sheff vs. O’Neill case ordering an end to the racial isolation of Hartford’s public school students, the state has enlisted 42 themed regional magnet schools in an attempt to integrate white suburban youth into minority Hartford student classrooms.

We must do more to protect people with IDD from sexual predators

Sexual assault has dominated the news cycle. It is clear that this issue can no longer be ignored. Easy to miss was a recent story about people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD), who are sexually assaulted at a rate seven times higher than those without disabilities. That’s right – seven times. Truly an epidemic. This is horrifying. Sadly, it does not surprise me.

Solving CT’s workforce challenge requires focus, collaboration

Amazon’s recent decision to drop Connecticut from its list of potential second headquarters locations was disappointing, but not completely unexpected. As companies expand, they look for business-friendly climates to be sure, but their primary focus is the availability of talent at every level. Amazon saw reason to invest in Connecticut for three distribution centers —which will eventually employ 4,000— but not its headquarters. The reason? Simply put, talent at every level is not what Connecticut has to offer.

Revitalize CT’s cities to strengthening an already healthy economy

If you were surprised that the Hartford metro area ranks No. 4 in the nation in “digitalization,” you would probably be astounded to learn that it ranks No. 3 in the world in terms of productivity per capita. For some reason, we hear mostly about what is going poorly in our state when there is also a great deal of positive news, including the fact that there is an opportunity to support additional economic development by revitalizing Connecticut’s central cities.

Repay the diverted transportation funds before raising fares and taxes

Response to Jim Cameron: Jim, as a person who really does know the truth, it would benefit us all for you to tell the whole truth, so we can really learn from the past and fix the problem.  Past administrations on both sides of the aisle have raided the Special Transportation Fund to the tune of $1.5 billion and counting as raids continue today. If you really want our roads and bridges fixed, first we must stop the raiding.