Not just a place to live: From homelessness to citizenship

Twenty years ago, Jim lived under a highway bridge in New Haven. He was in his 50s and had once been in the Army. After an honorable discharge, he bounced from one job to another, drank too much, became estranged from his family and finally ended up homeless. A New Haven mental health outreach team found him one morning sleeping under the bridge. The team tried for months to get Jim to accept psychiatric services. Finally, one day, he relented. The outreach workers quickly helped him get disability benefits, connected him to a psychiatrist and got him a decent apartment. But two weeks later, safe in the apartment, Jim said he wanted to go live under the bridge again. He was more comfortable there, where he knew people and felt like he belonged, he said. In his apartment he was cut off from everything.

For its future’s sake, Connecticut must believe in its youth

Fifty years ago this week, Robert F. Kennedy was assassinated during one of the most tumultuous years in our nation’s history. I am almost ashamed to admit that, until recently, I had neither read nor heard what may be one of the greatest speeches ever delivered by an American leader. Two years before his tragic death, Robert Kennedy addressed members of the National Union of South African Students in Cape Town, South Africa. The themes and ideas presented that day compelled me to reflect on what it meant to be a young person in Connecticut.

Eliminating transcripts draws the shades on government a little more

Continuing their effort to draw the shade over the window of government accountability and transparency, General Assembly leaders have abandoned the longstanding practice of routinely transcribing the testimony presented at hundreds of public hearings held during legislative sessions. The decision, made without the benefit of public input, marks the latest setback for Connecticut’s 43-year-old Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), which was once the strongest in the nation and a model emulated by other states and countries.

Blaming the unions is a convenient distraction. Don’t fall for it.

I am a proud union member from a union family, and a lifetime member of the United Auto Workers union.  In the mid- to late 80s I remember walking picket lines with my father and the union workers at Colt Firearms as they endured one of the longest strikes in Connecticut history. Today we are still reaping the benefits of the sacrifices that were made by so many union members willing to stand together united for a just cause.

As the Ruling Class degenerates, America’s only recourse is …

Every society has a Ruling Class. In the United States, it is the super wealthy and those with Ivy League educations – especially those with degrees from Harvard or Yale. The leaders of our bureaucracies, major newspapers, opinion journals, think tanks, courts, corporations, universities, media conglomerates and political class come from one of these two groups – or ambitious individuals who have ingratiated themselves with these groups. This was not necessarily a bad thing, as long as our Ruling Class was competent.

Kids in the juvenile justice system have fallen through budget cracks

In the last minutes of the 2018 legislative session, we got a state budget. Legislators showed commitment and determination in reaching a bi-partisan agreement. The dust hasn’t cleared yet — there is still a lot of uncertainty regarding what got funded and what didn’t. It is all too evident, however, that even dust-settling won’t clear away a fundamental reality. Children have fallen through system cracks due to a failure to plan and budget appropriately to meet the behavioral health needs of children in and at risk for being in the juvenile justice system.

Let’s make Connecticut’s attorney general part of the solution

Connecticut’s Office of Attorney General should model integrity, fairness, and inspire respect for the law. Our courts, the judicial process, and law enforcement officials are vital. They need a strong advocate. Incredibly, a Republican has not won the Office of Attorney General in Connecticut since 1954!  But this year, change is critical to restore our state’s economic competitiveness. And that requires a new brand of leadership from the attorney general.

Resolved: That the CSCU system needs a better plan

In its April 24, 2018 decision letter, the New England Association of Colleges and Schools, Commission on Institutions of Higher Education (hereinafter Commission), noted that it was not persuaded that the planning for the new Community College of Connecticut, as advanced by the Students First plan, was realistic. We acknowledge President Mark Ojakian for continually asserting the need to institute system-wide changes for the betterment of the student body. Yet, faculty has been intentionally excluded from meaningful participation and genuine involvement and engagement. Moreover, we agree with the Commission and believe the accelerated process for planning/implementation was insufficient and will cause disruption to our students.

What the Regents know that just ain’t so

“It’s not what you don’t know that gets you in trouble. It’s what you know for sure that just ain’t so.”   —   Mark Twain

Recent coverage of the Board of Regents’ latest scheme to reorganize higher education in Connecticut by removing leadership, many programs and services, and potentially accreditation from the local campuses can all be summed up in the famous quote cited above from a neighbor of the Regents’ Hartford offices.

The mind-body connection, loneliness and overall health

Achieving good health isn’t just about managing your blood pressure, controlling your weight or staying away from tobacco – although all of these are important. Good health is actually much more complex and includes social and emotional dimensions in addition to the physical. For example, where you live matters. The safety of your neighborhood, the quality of your schools, your access to transportation and other “social determinants” can all affect your health.