Letters: Hard to sell a home in Weston, Justice Andrew McDonald was held to an unattainable standard
Published 1:37 pm, Friday, March 30, 2018
As a Weston resident, I am one of many people who have seen the value of our homes decline precipitously in the last number of years. Yet the town assessment office refuses to acknowledge that our property taxes should also decline, regardless of the research done by professionals and Realtors who list homes in the area at greatly reduced prices. This situation makes it even harder to sell a home in Weston. It gives the town a bad reputation for fairness to home owners.
I think something should be done by homeowners together about the arbitrary and unfair treatment we are receiving. An article by the Westport News on this unfair treatment would also be welcome.
To the Editor:
On March 27, Andrew McDonald was rejected by Connecticut Senate Republicans to become the Chief Justice of the state’s highest court. His nomination failed 19 to 16 this year; in 2013, McDonald was confirmed by a vote of 30-3. Like other Republicans, Senator Tony Hwang voted “No” to move forward Justice McDonald’s nomination, in political lockstep with his colleagues.
Obviously, something has changed since 2013. And the seismic shift in treatment of Justice McDonald should not be accepted as normal in Connecticut. Simply put, McDonald is an overqualified, dynamic candidate whose his public service has demonstrated his commitment to Connecticut. He presided over the extension of the repeal of capital punishment; he became our state’s first openly gay Supreme Court Justice - even as he was targeted by an anti-gay propaganda which labeled him as “a deviant mole on a mission to undermine American society with LGBT issues.” Today, his elevation to the Chief Justice post would have made Connecticut the first state to have a gay Chief Justice of a state’s highest court. In a time of fiscal instability in Connecticut and Trumpian rancor in Washington, residents deserved history-making bipartisanship that would have made future generations proud.
As in Washington, Republican-led dogma has infected our state leaders. Republicans suddenly viewed McDonald as an activist judge. Earlier this year, Republicans held him in a stunning 13-hour interrogation over past decisions. During that specticle, Representative Arthur O’Neill said it was “extremely unusual” that Governor Malloy presided over Mr. McDonald’s wedding. This week, Len Fasano said he just can’t be “captain” of this team - statements all tinged with homophobic undertones.
I will acknowledge that a man with decades of public service will have opinions, perspectives, rulings, and votes with which I disagree. Democrats, Republicans, and Independents share this with all of our elected officials. we all have differences with our elected officials.
Yet, Justice McDonald was held to an unattainable standard. In a state that prides itself on tolerance and open-mindedness, our leaders failed to look at the man before them. Republicans have pestered this man, badgered him, and shown an unwillingness to look forward. As Governor Malloy said on Tuesday, “No legislative leader, let alone a member of the Connecticut bar, has nitpicked, parsed, and deconstructed the decisions of a sitting judge more as Glen Fasano.”
Until today’s vote, Senator Hwang remained uncommitted - publically silent on the issue. Obviously, Mr. Hwang made him opinion known in his “No” vote this week. So, as I have asked privately to his office, and now ask publically, “Why, Mr. Hwang?” Lay out to your constituents - in specific terms - what made this man unqualified? We deserve an answer for the voters as we head to the polls in November.
To the Editor:
I am the owner of North Haven Auto Body, and I can speak firsthand on the impact that technology is having on my business. New safety features such as automatic braking and collision avoidance are being built into even the most basic of models, something that will undoubtedly lead to lower accident rates in the future, which will directly impact my two companies. And my only thought is “Thank God.”
Automobile accidents are fourth leading cause of death in the world. If these new technologies save a single injury or death, I say bring it on. I will gladly get ready for the future knowing that we will need to adapt to thrive and survive.
But not everyone in our state is ready to embrace change. For those of you who may not have been paying close attention, Tesla - the electric car manufacturer that has been leading the charge against climate change - is trying now for the fourth year to gain the ability to sell its vehicles and other products here in Connecticut.
For a state that has been bleeding jobs and a government that remains caught in a permanent fiscal crisis, you may be asking what’s the problem here? Surely our elected leaders in the state Legislature wouldn’t stand in the way of a company that wants to invest its own money and create jobs?
For the past three years, Tesla has pushed for legislation that would allow this innovative company to invest millions of dollars of their own money and create hundreds of jobs without a single dollar from taxpayers.
And for the past three years, our Legislature has done exactly nothing to get this bill over the finish line. We have the chance this year to finally get this right.
As we deal with the last throws of winter, let’s send a message that Connecticut is still a place where innovation can thrive. Let’s pass HB 5310 and bring Connecticut into the 21st century.
To the Editor:
Members of the Banking Committee of Connecticut’s General Assembly recently voted on party lines to move forward with Senate Bill 475. This bill would establish a task force to closely study and calculate the revenue loss Connecticut faces in light of the windfall that hedge funds, private equity firms, the state’s biggest corporations, and the richest families stand to gain from new federal tax law.
Ever since President Donald Trump’s tax plan passed, hedge fund and private equity managers stand to make massive gains through new and old tax loopholes that make it difficult for Connecticut to capture income tax revenues.
New federal statutes through the federal tax law, such as the pass through loophole, allow hedge funds to further avoid paying taxes. And despite promises and populist appeals made to middle and working class families by President Trump to close the carried interest tax loophole, which enables finance industry titans to pay almost half the effective tax rate paid by our teachers and janitors, his plan did no such thing. Connecticut will continue to lose hundreds of millions of dollars in hedge fund income that it is not able to capture for the public good.
That’s money that should pay for education, crumbling infrastructure, and services cut that will most impact the neediest in our state.
According to The New York Times, “economists and tax experts across the political spectrum warn that the proposed system would invite tax avoidance. The more the tax code distinguishes among types of earnings, personal characteristics or economic activities, the greater the incentive to label income artificially, restructure or switch categories in a hunt for lower rates.”
According to The Wall Street Journal, the bill’s changes to “business and individual taxation could lead to a new era of business reorganization and tax-code gamesmanship with unknown consequences for the economy and federal revenue collection.”
Of course, this presents very serious implications for Connecticut, with its over-reliance on the finance sector, especially when the finance sector doesn’t invest in our economy as it once did. Every dollar of earnings or borrowing used to be associated with a 40-cent increase in investment. Since the 1980s, though, less than 10 cents of each earned or borrowed dollar is invested. This means fewer jobs created and more money winding up as shareholders’ profits.
Connecticut is one of the wealthiest states, but consistently ranks in the top five for income inequality in the nation. Our tax policies over the past few years haven’t benefited the middle class — whose wages have been stagnant for three decades. That harms our economy by lowering consumers’ ability to spend money and keep small businesses operating.
If our federal government won’t take meaningful steps to ensure that the finance sector pays its fair share, it’s up to states to regulate this industry. Neighboring states such as New York and New Jersey are taking steps to close the carried interest tax loophole, and Connecticut should as well.
In the meantime, the least we can do is pass legislation to assemble a task force that will calculate the coming loss to our state. I urge the Connecticut General Assembly to pass Senate Bill 475.
State director of the Connecticut Working Families Organization