On the importance of climate-change preparation: ‘It’s the deficit, stupid’

As important as you, the environmental community, and I feel climate change is, we all need to put up a sign in our offices which says “It’s the deficit, STUPID!”..and then connect the dots. I have requested that the environmental community look at certain connections of climate change mitigation and deficit reduction, but they are so overly focused they seem to ignore it even when it has actually worked going back to 1990.

Republicans should re-examine their message, not their tactics

Francis DeStefano authored an opinion piece for CTViewpoints recently entitled “Boughton, not Stefanowski, could have won the governorship for Republicans.” He stated that former Trumbull First Selectman Tim Herbst, jilted at the Republican convention in May, refused to accept Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton as its nominee, ran a primary against him, and so played a role in allowing Bob Stefanowski to push aside  Boughton, who earned “only a small percentage of the vote.” Contrary to DeStefano’s wishful thinking, two other points call attention to the fact that the Republican loss was due not to what party faithful or their candidate did during the campaign — though their missteps were contributory — but to what they had neglected to do since the last election.

Let’s not reinvent the budget wheel, we already have a good one

Gov.-elect Ned Lamont will take office in January and on February 6, about a month into his tenure, will present his budget proposal to the legislature and to the people of Connecticut.  Except for a few carefully crafted messages during the campaign he didn’t tell us how he intends to address the state’s mounting financial issues, so we have few hints about what he will propose.  He is, though, assembling a transition team to help him in this endeavor, getting input from current Gov. Dannel Malloy, and has invited people from all across the political spectrum to advance ideas.  In short, he appears to be following in the noble tradition of reinventing the wheel.

Boughton, not Stefanowski, could have won the governorship for Republicans

Republican Bob Stefanowski’s campaign for governor of Connecticut followed the same path that led other millionaire candidates like Linda McMahon and Tom Foley to flop on election day. Even though he garnered more votes than Foley, he lost the election because he could not overcome large Democrat majorities in cities like Bridgeport, Hartford, and New Haven in this year of record turnout.

Street fentanyl: Five dollars per death

A couple weeks back I did a naloxone (Narcan™) training and distribution. I do a fair number of these and often ask two questions:
“How many of you have used Narcan to reverse an overdose?”
“Have you ever had it used on you?”
Because of my job as medical director for a mental health and substance abuse agency, I often give these trainings in high-drug-use settings and find that a third or more will answer yes to both questions.

Congratulations, Guv, and my condolences

Dear Ned…
Well, you did it.  Congratulations on your election.  And my condolences.  The easy part of politics is over:  getting elected.  Now comes the hard part:  being governor. I hope you and your transition team are already working on that budget that’s due in three months.  There’s a lot of red ink ($4 billion) that needs to be mopped up.  And don’t forget those $80 billion in unfunded pensions.  But I’m sure you’ve got the solutions, right?    That’s what you promised voters, anyhow.  So have at it. But as you are cutting and slashing, may I be so bold as to make a few suggestions on the transportation front? 

Connecticut can scale the wall of climate inaction

The victory of Democrat Ned Lamont for governor and major gains by Democrats in both houses of the General Assembly set the table for progressive legislation when the new session begins in January. Paid family leave, a $15 an hour wage floor, and raising revenue through legalizing marijuana and levying tolls on trucks have been much mentioned, and all are laudable goals. And the flipping to blue of the U.S. House should allow at least for debate on issues like fair pay, immigration reform and others. What’s been almost totally lacking is any talk of how to address the ticking time bomb we face that, if we don’t address it, will make other struggles for racial or gender justice or economic progress much harder.

Pledging to be part of the opioid solution

If the death rate from the flu quadrupled in Connecticut over a four-year period, there would be outrage and demand for immediate action. But what happened when opioid-related deaths more than quadrupled between 2012 and 2016, from 5.7 to 24.5 deaths per 100,000 persons? Although the opioid crisis has certainly garnered significant media attention and public recognition, the skyrocketing opioid death rate hasn’t elicited the same outrage we would expect to see from other public health crises, such as deaths from infectious disease.