Res­i­dents air con­cerns dur­ing meet­ing with Sen. Chris Mur­phy

Gov­ern­ment shut­down, health care, school safety dis­cussed

Connecticut Post (Sunday) - - News - By Michael P. Mayko

DERBY — The fed­eral gov­ern­ment shut­down, health care, global warm­ing and school safety were among the many con­cerns U. S. Sen. Chris Mur­phy heard about dur­ing a town meet­ing Satur­day at Derby Mid­dle School.

The Demo­cratic sen­a­tor from Con­necti­cut spent nearly two hours talk­ing to res­i­dents. Brooke Ron­deau came from dis­tant Bozrah in New Lon­don County, while oth­ers like Matt McGee and Stacy Stable­ford came from nearby Shelton and Trum­bull.

Two em­ploy­ees of the Fed­eral Cor­rec­tional In­sti­tu­tion in Dan­bury urged Mur­phy to push leg­is­la­tion that would help them get paid dur­ing the shut­down. Pat Wynn, a union rep­re­sen­ta­tive, said many work­ers are sin­gle par­ents liv­ing pay­check to pay­check, and those pay­checks didn’t come Fri­day.

“This is the long­est gov­ern­ment shut­down in the his­tory of our coun­try,” Mur­phy told the crowd.

He said Congress passed leg­is­la­tion that will guar­an­tee back pay to each of the 800,000 fed­eral em­ploy­ees af­fected. Ad­di­tional leg­is­la­tion that would pro­hibit cred­i­tors and credit rat­ing agen­cies from tak­ing ac­tion against these em­ploy­ees for fail­ing to pay their bills on time is be­ing worked on, Mur­phy said.

“I get it ( that) the pres­i­dent re­ally wants to build the wall,” Mur­phy told the crowd. “I don’t agree that fed­eral em­ploy­ees should be held hostage for some­thing Congress is not ready to give him.”

He asked what hap­pened to Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump’s cam­paign prom­ise that Mex­ico would pay for the wall. The sen­a­tor said he was hope­ful “Se­nate Repub­li­cans would come around” and get the gov­ern­ment open and its em­ploy­ees back to work.

Mur­phy told the crowd, some of whom sup­port Trump’s wall- build­ing de­mand, that data he has seen shows the bor­der­cross­ing coun­ties “are the safest in the coun­try.” He said rates of crimes com­mit­ted by un­doc­u­mented im­mi­grants “are lower than” those com­mit­ted by na­tive- born Amer­i­cans and more peo­ple on the ter­ror­ist watch list en­ter the coun­try from Cana­dian than from Mex­ico.

“The no­tion that the un­doc­u­mented im­mi­grants cre­ate a se­cu­rity risk is not held up by the data,” Mur­phy said.

McGee, a 17- year- old Shelton res­i­dent, was one of sev­eral speak­ers who asked Mur­phy why he was not sup­port­ing an all- in Medi­care health in­sur­ance plan.

Mur­phy told the crowd he was in fa­vor of of­fer­ing choice — ei­ther a Medi­care health care plan or pri­vate in­sur­ance. He also wants drug com­pa­nies to be re­quired to pay a por­tion of their prof­its into a pool for pre­scrip­tion abuse treat­ment.

Jennifer Ma­gri, pres­i­dent of Sey­mour’s Board of Ed­u­ca­tion, and whose daugh­ter teaches in Bridge­port, took is­sue with Mur­phy over leg­is­la­tion he pro­posed that pro­tects stu­dents with dis­abil­i­ties from be­ing se­cluded and re­strained.

Ma­gri’s daugh­ter had mailed Mur­phy a let­ter de­tail­ing an in­ci­dent in her kinder­garten class in which she was in­jured when a stu­dent be­gan throw­ing things and be- com­ing ver­bally abu­sive.

Ma­gri asked why aren’t more mea­sures taken to pro­tect teach­ers. Mur­phy told her there are bet­ter in­ter­ven­tions than “lock­ing a stu­dent up in a room.”

“He blew me off, just like his staff blew my daugh­ter off,” said Ma­gri, adding Mur­phy nei­ther ad­dressed her con­cerns or those of her daugh­ter, who she said re­ceived a stan­dard­ized email.

Ron­deau trav­eled from Bozrah to ask about cli­mate change.

“The two things that mat­ter more than any­thing are global warm­ing and vot­ing rights,” Mur­phy said. “If you can’t breathe, you can’t vote.”

Stable­ford, a Trum­bull res­i­dent, told Mur­phy she needs “hope and op­ti­mism” amid be­ing fed anger, con­flict and re­sent­ment daily from tele­vi­sion news.

“Turn off ca­ble TV for awhile,” Mur­phy said. While he com­mended in­ves­tiga­tive re­port­ing, he said for many pro­grams, “po­lit­i­cal news is en­ter­tain­ment, and en­ter­tain­ment is con­flict ... There has been a litany of bi­par­tisian bills passed” which he said got al­most no men­tion on TV.

Michael P. Mayko / Hearst Con­necti­cut Me­dia

U. S. Sen. Chris Mur­phy speaks to the au­di­ence dur­ing his town hall meet­ing at Derby Mid­dle School on Satur­day.

A crowd fills Derby Mid­dle School on Satur­day as res­i­dents went to hear U. S. Sen. Chris Mur­phy an­swer ques­tions about is­sues con­fronting the fed­eral gov­ern­ment.

Brooke Ron­deau, who trav­eled to Derby from Bozrah to speak to U. S. Sen. Chris Mur­phy about ef­forts to slow cli­mate change, speaks dur­ing the meet­ing on Satur­day.

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