Letters to the Editor: Talk about drinking
Talk about drinking
With prom and graduation season around the corner, it’s time to start talking with your teens about underage drinking prevention. While it may not be an easy conversation, it’s important to create an open dialogue on this topic, especially as it pertains to never getting a ride from someone who has been drinking.
To help start - or continue - these important conversations, Dichello Distributors, Inc. would like to remind parents about the Family Talk About Drinking program, a free resource for parents designed to encourage open and honest communication between parents and their children. Programs like this one, paired with education and effective law enforcement, are essential to preventing underage drinking.
Below is a list of all of the Family Talk About Drinking resources you can find online:
Remember, it’s our collective responsibility to help prevent underage drinking, and parents have one of the most important roles of all.
Congress, what are
you waiting for?
Universal background checks should be federal law at this juncture of our nation’s history. The fact that universal background checks are not mandated can reasonably be described as a failure of representative democracy. In the wake of the school shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School (Parkland, Fla.), it’s reasonable to ask - could a universal background check system have prevented the entire incident? Police responded 39 times to emergency calls at the shooter’s home within a seven-year time span. If universal background checks had been in place, the shooter would only be able to seek a firearm from a licensed dealer or a heavily regulated private seller. From either of those locations, it’s possible he would have been flagged and prohibited access to an AR-15 rifle. The deranged fantasies of a disaffected teen would have remained fantasies.
A law that enacts universal background checks, at its core, would demand more transparency and accountability from gun dealers. The single most comprehensive version of this law would require all firearm transfers to be conducted through licensed dealers. This way, background checks would be completed on all purchasers and all sales records would be maintained for potential review by law enforcement. There is also a version of this policy that allows for private sales with specific requirements. Vendors would be required to conduct background checks through a central law enforcement agency.
As you might expect, that agency would have access to both state and federal records of purchasers. Vendors would also need to maintain purchaser records for no less than ten years. As a final tenant of this policy, private sellers would have to report all firearm transfers to state and local law enforcement.Opponents of universal background checks (as few as they are), find the compulsory record keeping pieces of this policy to be highly objectionable, effectively, an infringement of their personal freedoms. Advocates of this policy (like myself) are likely to defend this policy as a preventative measure that can screen out potentially dangerous individuals and save lives.
Our national attention span, when it comes to political news, is noticeably brief. If the hourly “Breaking News” segments that appear on most mainstream media stations aren’t distracting enough — the tri-hourly news notifications on our smart phones serve to abbreviate our level of engagement with any single issue. We shouldn’t surrender the debate over universal background checks to allegations of Russian collaboration, scandalous adult film entertainers, or the latest congressional deadlock for one simple (and unique) reason. Most of us agree.
In all honesty, universal background checks would prompt an exchange of sorts. Law-abiding purchasers would be accepting the loss of expedient transactions and anonymity from their status as gun owners. In return, our nation would have a genuine opportunity to mitigate (and eventualy cease) the pervasive trend of gun violence that has irreparably harmed our neighbors, friends, and families.
So many of our political arguments are contentious and without end. However, we do have a rare case of broad public consensus, all along the political spectrum, when it comes to this issue. Under the law of our Republic, consensus should be enough to prompt new legislation and the subsequent change of domestic gun policies. Congress, what are you waiting for?
Regionalize to save money? Okay, show me the numbers
Today it is often stated that pushing municipalities to share services is critical to solving the state’s financial problems. I doubt that.
First, municipalities have already regionalized services more than many realize. Second, while the term regionalization is hastily deployed, business plans showing the savings and who gets them are rarely seen. I suspect many of the ideas floated would not stand up to analysis.
Municipal officials are under constant pressure to keep spending down. This leads them to look for savings everywhere, including sharing services with other towns. In Easton, for example, we share a high school, school administration, sports leagues, and a land-use director with Redding.
In public safety, towns rely on mutual aid. Police, fire, and emergency medical service personnel respond to emergencies in other towns when needed. We share a regional fire school in Fairfield, which the state intends to defund — go figure. Further, a regional emergency management team sends storm forecasts used by municipalities.
What about insurance? Easton, like almost all municipalities in Connecticut, gets its liability and workers compensation insurance through CIRMA, a municipally-owned insurance consortium. Municipalities are eligible to join the health insurance plan for state workers, the State 2.0 partnership plan. Easton has done so and has achieved savings (as have Easton’s employees).
Every municipality in Connecticut belongs to a council of governments. The COGs provide a regionally shared skilled workforce to help plan area projects, primarily transportation. MetroCOG, Easton’s COG, helps obtain the grant that funds our senior center van and managed the six-town GIS mapping project, which anyone can access through Easton’s website. Ironically, failed SB 538 proposed taking money away from COGs to create a new state department with 18 employees to study regional efficiency. (Do you think it would ever recommend shutting itself down?)
There are many other examples of regionalized services, such as probate courts, inter-library loans, senior centers open to all, and the state bid list, which allows towns to get the same price the state gets on many goods and services.
Some services just cannot be shared in ways that promote efficiency. It’s hard to share a public works department because when it snows all personnel and all trucks are needed in their respective towns. There may be opportunities to share other capital equipment, but renting is probably cheaper still.
In Easton, we investigated sharing an assessor with Weston, but when we ran the numbers it just didn’t work. The savings were minimal, but the loss of service was significant. We investigated joining a health district and found our costs would have gone up.
But perhaps there are more opportunities for shared services that municipal officials just haven’t thought of yet. Dispatch centers are often mentioned. Sometimes animal control. Okay, I’m listening. How much money will be saved? Who gets the savings? How do we handle friction with our collective bargaining agreements? A concept is a good starting point, but proponents of new regionalization plans have the responsibility to produce detailed plans showing what they propose will save money.
If they can’t, I remain skeptical.