Editorial Roundup: New England

Hearst Connecticut Media. January 11, 2023.

Editorial: As recreational pot sales begin in CT, history offers lessons moving forward

It’s a historic week in Connecticut, as the sale of recreational marijuana finally becomes legal.

Witnessing history is also a good time to consider lessons of the distant, as well as the recent past.

To many, not allowing marijuana to be legal until now seems as ridiculous as the Prohibition of the 1920s, when alcohol consumption was taboo across the United States. That all seems like a folly a century later, yet the potential perils of alcohol continue to be downplayed in American society. No one likes to ruin the party with such chatter, yet the same question is reliably asked after any tragic automobile accident: Was the driver under the influence?

This ties to recent history lessons as well. Colorado was the first state to embrace legalized marijuana. That was in 2012, more than a decade ago. Other states kept one eye on Colorado while considering the ramifications of following suit.

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Two Fairfield Girl Scouts, Teagan Weber and Ayla Eiykan, look to publish a book they wrote about climate change featured in a Leonardo DiCaprio tweet.

CT Girl Scouts try to publish climate book after DiCaprio tweet

Vincent Jones, 54, of New Haven, was arrested for the 48th time Thursday for allegedly robbing a Fairfield bank on Oct. 10, according to local police.

CT serial bank robber arrested for 48th time, police say

Bridgeport held its 36th annual St. Patrick’s Day parade n March 16, 2018. Marchers traveled through downtown Bridgeport, beginning at Harbor Yard, continuing up Broad Street to Fairfield Avenue and then back to Harbor Yard. Were you SEEN?

Bridgeport St. Patrick’s Day parade plans Black Rock relaunch

A file photo showing students leaving Stratford High School campus following the first day of classes, in Stratford, Conn. Sept. 9, 2020.

Stratford High solar panels could power school for decades

A 49-year-old homeless man suffered severe trauma to the face and head in an assault in the 800 block of Fairfield Ave. Wednesday night, according to Bridgeport police.

Bridgeport police: Man seriously hurt in Fairfield Avenue assault

Bridgeport BOE Secretary Joseph Sokolovic

Bridgeport school board considers ‘expanded’ financial audit

Demolition of the former SHW Casting Co. property is underway in Ansonia, Conn. Jan. 11, 2023.

Ansonia begins demolition of former city landmark

Michael Nastu, 62, of Bridgeport, Conn., was arrested Wednesday, June 30, 2021, on a federal criminal complaint charging him with child exploitation offenses.

Former CT zoning official gets 18 months for child exploitation

Tayvion Hart, 18, of New Haven, has been charged with first-degree larceny, second-degree robbery, second-degree assault and refusal of fingerprints for a December carjacking, according to Stratford police.

Alleged Stratford holdup man extradited from New Jersey

BRIDGEPORT--Police are investigating an incident that occurred Monday morning between two women and a 14-year-old boy at the intersection of Wood Avenue and Olive Street.

Police: West Haven man wounded in Bridgeport shooting


Editorial: As recreational pot sales begin in CT, history offers lessons moving forward

the Hearst Connecticut Media Editorial Board

Jan. 11, 2023


A marijuana plant.

A marijuana plant.

Richard Vogel/AP

It’s a historic week in Connecticut, as the sale of recreational marijuana finally becomes legal.

Witnessing history is also a good time to consider lessons of the distant, as well as the recent past.

To many, not allowing marijuana to be legal until now seems as ridiculous as the Prohibition of the 1920s, when alcohol consumption was taboo across the United States. That all seems like a folly a century later, yet the potential perils of alcohol continue to be downplayed in American society. No one likes to ruin the party with such chatter, yet the same question is reliably asked after any tragic automobile accident: Was the driver under the influence?

This ties to recent history lessons as well. Colorado was the first state to embrace legalized marijuana. That was in 2012, more than a decade ago. Other states kept one eye on Colorado while considering the ramifications of following suit.

Remarkably, there is still not a breathalyzer for marijuana, leaving law enforcement officials to make judgments based on roadside and blood tests. That will likely change over time, as experts strive to develop such devices, but it’s pretty remarkable that a decade has passed without them.

Ten years ago, it was also commonly believed that the primary customers would be those who were already purchasing products illegally. Yet the illicit market continues to thrive, a potential setback for states such as Connecticut that are trying to boost tax dollars with a new industry.

But history also shows us habits can change. It took generations for tobacco use to decline, which has been for the greater good of the nation’s health. A recent Gallup poll indicates more Americans smoke marijuana than cigarettes, a stunning statistic given that pot is still not legal in more than half the country.

So Americans have come to accept that tobacco is harmful, and the majority express faith in the health benefits of marijuana usage.

Colorado offers other cautionary tales as well, as dispensary storefronts have been linked to increases on crimes in those neighborhoods.

These are not arguments against legalization, merely areas that call for vigilant consideration. It’s also a counter warning to what seems to be a Pollyanna launch in some corners of Connecticut, including the governor’s office.

Recreational marijuana is here to stay in Connecticut, just like alcohol and tobacco use. But it demands an even higher attention to detail from consumers, with each town setting its own rules.

Yes, it’s a historic week, but consider the past while stepping onto the future.


Bangor Daily News. January 11, 2023.

Editorial: Maine sets another grim record for pedestrian deaths

Pedestrian deaths have been on the rise for years in Maine. And, tragically, 2022 was no exception. There were 21 pedestrian deaths in Maine last year, according to the Department of Public Safety. This followed 20 pedestrian deaths in 2021, a tally also reached in 2017 and had been the largest number on record.

Just in December, three pedestrian deaths in Maine included a man who was hit while walking near an Interstate 95 exit in Bangor, a man hit while walking along Route 1 in Hancock and a young woman struck by a truck in Lewiston.

These collisions can happen any time, but Maine Department of Transportation data show that the evening hours remain most dangerous for pedestrians. December also is the most common month for crashes involving pedestrians. More crashes involving pedestrians happen in urban areas, which are more crowded. But there are more crashes that kill pedestrians in rural areas, where lighting is more sparse and cars travel faster, making it less likely a pedestrian can survive a crash, a state transportation official told the BDN in late 2021.

There are steps that can be taken, like clearer crosswalks; more sidewalks and better sidewalk maintenance; and increasing the separation between vehicles, pedestrians and cyclists. But in a mostly rural state like Maine, there are many stretches of road that won’t see sidewalks or bike lanes any time soon. That makes education and awareness for drivers and pedestrians key for preventing future crashes.

Drivers in particular need to slow down, pay attention to the road and put that cellphone down.

Likewise, pedestrians should stow their phones and ear buds and follow state laws, which include the requirement that people walk against traffic when a sidewalk is not available or the road’s shoulder. Using a crosswalk also is important, but not a failsafe measure to cross streets.

Pedestrians, especially in the early morning and evening, need to ensure they are wearing bright colors to be as visible as possible.

As we wrote last year, pedestrian deaths aren’t just statistics. They are our friends, family, neighbors and co-workers. Their deaths shouldn’t be forgone conclusions of modern transportation. This doesn’t have to keep happening.

Each situation is different, but it seems that many could be avoided if drivers — and in some cases, pedestrians — pay better attention and make safer decisions on and around Maine roads. We wish we didn’t have to keep writing this, but apparently it bears repeating: Be safe out there — especially on these days when it gets dark early — for your own sake and for the sake of others.


Boston Globe. January 9, 2023.

Editorial: Child sex abuse is ‘soul murder.’ Massachusetts should lift the statute of limitations.

The Bay State has fallen behind neighboring states, which have opened up new legal avenues for victims to sue the institutions that harbored their abusers decades ago.

A recent change in Maine law has given people in their 50s, 60s, and 70s a chance to seek justice, at long last, for the sex abuse they endured as children.

The measure retroactively eliminated the statute of limitations for civil lawsuits in these cases, allowing victims to seek restitution from the churches and summer camps and Boy Scout troops that had failed them so grievously decades ago.

Robert Dupuis, 73, is among those who have filed suit since the law changed.

In the early 1960s, he says, a priest at St. Joseph Church in the central Maine community of Old Town periodically summoned him to a closet he called his “office” and pulled Dupuis’s buttocks into his crotch and fondled his genitals over clothing. The abuse may have contributed to his years-long struggles with alcoholism, he claims. And it left him with crippling trust issues.

“I never really had any friendships,” he recently told Globe reporter Mike Damiano. “Even my wife and I never became friends until I went to recovery.”

Maine is one of several states that has opened up new legal avenues for child sex abuse victims in recent years — fulfilling a solemn obligation to the wronged and sending a powerful message to institutions entrusted with the care of children.

Lawmakers in Arizona, Colorado, Louisiana, and Utah have taken action. In New England, the Vermont and New Hampshire legislatures have stepped up, too. But here in Massachusetts, where the Catholic Church sex abuse scandal burst into view two decades ago and inspired a worldwide reckoning, we have fallen behind.

It’s time to catch up.

The state Legislature’s last significant reform came in 2014, when lawmakers — hearing from advocates for child sex abuse victims on one side and the Catholic Church on the other — settled on a compromise. They would keep the statute of limitations for civil suits in place but they would extend it — allowing victims to file suit up until age 53, instead of age 21.

In a key concession to the church, victims could sue perpetrators in past cases of abuse — but not the people or institutions that supervised them. (In future abuse cases, supervisors and institutions could be sued.)

It was progress. But with research showing that many victims struggle to speak about abuse until much later in life, the age 53 cutoff strikes some advocates as insufficient. Even an insult.

Mitchell Garabedian, a longtime lawyer for abuse victims, tells the editorial board that the 2014 law was “a slap in the face” for those who still didn’t qualify to sue.

“It’s time for Massachusetts to wake up,” he says, “and recognize what’s going on throughout the country.”

Child USAdvocacy, a national group that tracks and lobbies for child protection legislation, gives the Massachusetts law a “D” grade.

It reserves an “A” for laws like those in Maine and Vermont that have wiped away the statute of limitations for future cases and given past victims of child abuse unlimited time to pursue claims against perpetrators, supervisors, and institutions.

Kathryn Robb, executive director of the group, acknowledges that this sort of leeway is unusual in the American legal system.

“But we are not talking about slip-and-fall cases, we’re not talking about breach-of-contract cases,” she says. “Let’s be real. We’re talking about rape, sodomy, and sexual assault of our children.”

And for too many institutions where abuse has occurred, it takes a steep financial penalty to bring adequate attention to their responsibility for stemming what can only be called a crisis. In the United States, about 1 in 4 girls and 1 in 13 boys experience child sexual abuse.

The criminal prosecution of child sex abuse is governed by different laws. There is no statute of limitations in Massachusetts. But the evidentiary bar is higher if someone makes an allegation decades after an alleged assault. And that may be appropriate, with the liberty of the accused at stake. Lawmakers should examine the issue carefully before making any changes.

There is no justification, though, for the sharp restrictions on civil suits here. They are arbitrary and out of step with neighboring states. Those who can credibly claim they have been violated deserve a day in court — even if it takes decades to get there.

The worst kinds of child abuse have been labeled “soul murder.” And there must be adequate redress.


Boston Herald. January 5, 2023.

Editorial: Healey must say ‘no’ to bloated state OT

Can a progressive governor slam the brakes on runaway state overtime?

Massachusetts is about to find out, as Maura Healey is sworn in Thursday, a day after the Boston Herald published the state’s public payroll.

It was eye-opening, as some workers passed $300,000 in OT and two exceeded $400,000 in gross income.

For taxpayers, that income is particularly gross.

“Someone needs to take ownership. We have a new governor and the first thing she can do is help taxpayers because on face value, this seems impossible to attain,” said Mass Fiscal’s Paul Craney of Gov.-Elect Healey. “She needs to rein in unsupervised spending.”

Healey had openly supported the millionaires tax during her campaign, the 4% tax on annual income above $1 million, on top of the state’s current 5% flat income tax.

That ballot question passed, and the new tax is estimated to raise at least $1.3 billion from millionaires, homeowners, retirees, and those who own passthrough businesses.

That’s a revenue stream coming in, but how the money pouring out?

Healey is in essence the CEO of Massachusetts, and she’s taken over a business that racks up enormous overtime. In the private sector, this would be a huge problem.

That’s because those who work in the private sector have budgets they must adhere to. There is no “raise the rate” wiggle room, Companies in the private sector use the word “no” often.

Understandably, overtime is appealing for employees – who wouldn’t grab the chance to rake in more bucks? But the odious part of the bloated OT on the Massachusetts state payroll is that so many taxpayers who can’t pad their salaries this way are supporting those who do.

This is a management issue, as someone gave the all-clear for all these extra hours.

Gov.-elect Healey needs to have a chat with them.

“These sky-high overtime payments are absolutely mind-boggling,” said Mary Connaughton of the Pioneer Institute. “The public should demand to know how overtime is approved and how supervisors are satisfied these staff can perform effectively in high-risk jobs working so many hours.”

Connaughton, director of government transparency at the Pioneer think tank, added that “when state workers earn more in OT than in base pay, taxpayers deserve answers.”

Imagine the “found funding” that could be had if someone took a long, hard look at ballooning state salaries and self-imposed raises in addition to overtime. One thing Massachusetts is not is streamlined.

This calls for political courage, with improving the lives of constituents at the top of any agenda.

A tall order, especially as the winds of progressive politics blow strong in these parts. Healey has indicated support for fare-free buses, a project that would cost billions.

The new governor has a lot on her plate as she settles in to the Corner Office, and we wish her well.

But we also hope Healey impresses upon state managers the power of “no.”


Rutland Herald. January 7, 2023.

Editorial: The odds game

It was the speech Phil Scott had to give.

The Republican governor, addressing a supermajority of Democrats in the House of Representatives and the state Senate, had to use his fourth inaugural address to reemphasize the issues Vermonters told him (and lawmakers running for election) were important to them.

It was as though Scott was putting the verbal version of a highlighter on the challenges. He was issuing the long list of reminders as if to state, “Do not forget what Vermonters told us.”

Scott had to frame the address that way to appeal to Democrats, at times sounding so moderate you might mistake him for a D rather than an R. He discussed family leave, strengthening schools, pushing for more solutions to mental health, child care and climate change. He even discussed his EV truck, pushing its features like a salesman, right down to complaining about the speed of certain charging stations.

In fact, his policy agenda received glowing praise from House Speaker Jill Krowinski and Senate President Phil Baruth: “We share Governor Scott’s desire to work collaboratively and support a more vibrant and resilient future for all 14 counties. This biennium we have the opportunity to move forward legislation that will create greater equity and pathways to opportunities to grow and thrive in our Brave Little State. The legislature and the executive branch will continue to work together to increase access to affordable housing, support our working families, tackle our workforce challenges and find effective climate change solutions. Together, we will govern with purpose, meet the challenges before us, and build a stronger future for all Vermonters.”

Welcome to the party, governor.

Aly Richards, CEO of Let’s Grow Kids, took aim at him, stating: “Vermonters are asking state leaders to solve the child care crisis. The Governor’s lack of emphasis on child care today is out of touch with the needs of Vermont families and businesses, and is a missed opportunity to improve our economy and set up our youngest children for future success.”

However, the business community, which tends to lean more to the right on high-profile issues, delivered a statement in response to the address that pushed housing — not workforce development — as its takeaway from the governor’s address. Vermont Chamber of Commerce President Betsy Bishop stated, “We are encouraged that many of the policy priorities presented by the Governor today are top concerns for the Vermont business community. In particular, his commitment to addressing housing, and the acknowledgment that the issue is foundational to the workforce crisis, aligns with our 2023 legislative session priorities. … In recent years we’ve seen hundreds of millions of dollars invested in housing and while this has been critical to making progress, the housing crisis continues to worsen. This session, we will bring forth additional, balanced, solutions, because money alone cannot fix this problem.”

Perhaps it is all a suggestion the stars are aligning and that the administration and the Legislature have common goals going into this biennium. Maybe the party affiliations won’t mean as much in a show of unity and bipartisanship? Probably not. The real posturing has not happened.

We will be able to tell more from Scott’s upcoming budget address.

While this week’s speech may have been a conciliatory reckoning that this governor is acknowledging he can’t — by virtue of the numbers working against him — govern the way he could even last session when he had the ability to veto. Now, his vetoes can easily be overturned. They would only be political statements — not procedural politics.

However, while his inaugural address spoke a lot of Democratese, his budget address can still tee up a lot of ideas and solutions that, if lawmakers shoot down, the blame for failures will fall at the feet of legislators. Scott will be able to say he at least he tried to answer the concerns of Vermonters but politics got in the way.

For that reason alone, we expect a bold fiscal agenda.

It likely will sound more R than D. And we will hear more of this: “So, I want to be clear: this isn’t the time to increase the burden on anyone. And we certainly can’t ask lower- and middle-income families to cover the costs for their wealthier neighbors. We must find ways to achieve our shared goals without adding taxes and fees because this only increases the cost of living.” That was one of the few Rare R Moments in his 40-minute address.

Scott was handily reelected. He has restated the challenges. Now we will see how he plans to stand up — putting lawmakers on notice — when political odds are against him.