To gov­ern is still to choose but friends of dis­abled won’t

The Register Citizen (Torrington, CT) - - OPINION - Chris Pow­ell Chris Pow­ell is manag­ing ed­i­tor of the Jour­nal In­quirer in Manch­ester.

While Gov­er­nor Mal­loy tries to op­er­ate state gov­ern­ment with­out a bud­get, the Gen­eral Assem­bly be­ing a month late in ap­prov­ing one, ad­vo­cates for the men­tally dis­abled are com­plain­ing bit­terly about his re­duc­tions to fund­ing for non­profit so­cial ser­vice agen­cies.

Yes, care for the dis­abled should be state gov­ern­ment’s first pri­or­ity. In­stead state gov­ern­ment’s first pri­or­ity is the con­tent­ment of its own em­ploy­ees, which is why their unions get con­tracts with state gov­ern­ment while the dis­abled get no guar­an­tees at all. Un­for­tu­nately, ad­vo­cates for the dis­abled have never taken note of this.

In­deed, the ad­vo­cates for the dis­abled were nowhere to be found the other day when the state au­di­tors re­ported that the state Depart­ment of De­vel­op­men­tal Ser­vices, which looks af­ter the men­tally dis­abled, has put more than two dozen of its em­ploy­ees on paid leave for pe­ri­ods far greater than al­lowed by state law, in­clud­ing one who has been on leave for more than two years and has been paid more than $81,000 for not work­ing.

This week the ad­vo­cates for the dis­abled had noth­ing to say about the gov­er­nor’s “con­ces­sions” deal with the state em­ployee unions, which will guar­an­tee their fringe ben­e­fits for 10 years and pre­vent lay­offs for four years. Op­pos­ing the deal, Repub­li­can leg­is­la­tors note that if the state’s econ­omy con­tin­ues to de­cline, the deal may force state gov­ern­ment to keep re­duc­ing ser­vices to the dis­abled.

But ad­vo­cates for the dis­abled do lit­tle more than clamor that they want more money from state gov­ern­ment, as if the pub­lic doesn’t know that ev­ery­body wants more money. Such clamor is use­less.

What would be use­ful from ad­vo­cates for the dis­abled would be some ac­knowl­edg­ment that, as the old if for­got­ten say­ing goes, to gov­ern is to choose. Such an ac­knowl­edg­ment would man­i­fest it­self in clamor spec­i­fy­ing the great fi­nan­cial ex­cesses that con­tinue in state gov­ern­ment de­spite Con­necti­cut’s eco­nomic de­cline. If ad­vo­cates for the dis­abled con­sti­tuted them­selves as po­lit­i­cal au­di­tors and shoved the specifics of state gov­ern­ment’s mis­man­age­ment and in­hu­mane pri­or­i­ties in the faces of the gov­er­nor, state leg­is­la­tors, news or­ga­ni­za­tions, and the pub­lic, they might have more im­pact.

For a few state leg­is­la­tors are still ca­pa­ble of shame. In­deed, if only one Demo­cratic state se­na­tor can be shamed, the gov­er­nor’s deal with the unions, which will im­pair state gov­ern­ment’s fi­nances and democ­racy it­self for an­other 10 years, can be de­feated when it comes to a vote in the Se­nate on Mon­day.

Ad­vo­cates for the dis­abled and for any com­pelling cause in Con­necti­cut also might fo­cus on the state’s se­nior U.S. se­na­tor, Richard Blu­men­thal, who this month pro­posed that Congress ap­pro­pri­ate $500 mil­lion for “se­cu­rity as­sis­tance” for Ukraine, in­clud­ing treat­ment of in­jured Ukrainian sol­diers in U.S. hos­pi­tals.

Is con­tin­ued in­ter­ven­tion by the United States in civil wars around the world -Syria, Iraq, Ye­men, Libya, Afghanistan, and now Ukraine -- re­ally worth de­priv­ing care to Amer­i­cans?

While Blu­men­thal ad­vo­cates more for­eign mil­i­tary ad­ven­tures, the state’s con­gres­sional del­e­ga­tion has failed to in­duce the fed­eral gov­ern­ment to pro­vide any help to the hun­dreds and per­haps thou­sands of eastern Con­necti­cut res­i­dents who are in dan­ger of los­ing their homes to the de­fec­tive con­crete prob­lem.

Con­necti­cut’s con­gress­men are sup­posed to be lib­er­als. Are they de­clin­ing to op­pose th­ese for­eign ad­ven­tures be­cause the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion is lav­ish­ing mil­i­tary con­tracts on Elec­tric Boat, Pratt & Whit­ney, and Siko­rsky? If so, what kind of liberalism is that? Let­ters to the Ed­i­tor: Email ed­i­tor@reg­is­ter­ci­t­i­zen.com or mail to Let­ters to the Ed­i­tor, The Reg­is­ter Ci­ti­zen, 59 Field St., Tor­ring­ton, CT 06790; ATT: Let­ter to the Ed­i­tor. Rules for get­ting pub­lished: Please in­clude your ad­dress and a day­time phone num­ber for ver­i­fi­ca­tion pur­poses only. Please limit your let­ters to 300 words per Let­ter to the Ed­i­tor and one let­ter every fif­teen days. We re­serve the right to edit for length, grammar, spell­ing and ob­jec­tion­able con­tent. Talk with us on­line: Find us at Face­book.com/reg­is­ter­ci­t­i­zen and twit­ter.com/reg­is­ter­ci­t­i­zen. For the lat­est lo­cal cover­age, in­clud­ing break­ing news, slideshows, videos, polls and more, visit www.reg­is­ter­ci­t­i­zen.com. Check out our blogs at www. reg­is­ter­ci­t­i­zen.com/blogs/opin­ion.

JES­SICA HILL / AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Con­necti­cut Gov. Dan­nel P. Mal­loy, right, dur­ing a noon joint ses­sion of the Gen­eral Assem­bly at the Capi­tol in Hart­ford.

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