Thumbs up, thumbs down
Thumbs up to the fire crews from about 20 departments who came to the aid of Bethel to fight a stubborn fire in the Francis J. Clarke Industrial Park over eight hours on May 19. Two businesses were in the building; Intersurface Dynamics was saved by a firewall, but ATP, an adhesive tape company, was destroyed in the blaze which was so hot that it melted some of the steel structure. Thumbs up also to ATP owner and founder Eric Rothstein, who not only will reopen the business in another location, but also promised to pay all 18 employees in the interim. As manager James Torpey said, “We all look out for each other. We’re a family.”
Thumbs up to Connecticut increasing the minimum wage to $15 by 2023. There remains a lot of opposition to the hike, even though Gov. Ned Lamont has signed it into law. Though debate over reviving tolls and legalizing marijuana grabbed most of the spotlight during this legislative session, this move to more livable wages may come to define it. Under the new law the current minimum wage of $10.10 an hour will increase to $11 in October, $12 on Sept. 1, 2020, $13 on Aug. 1, 2021, $14 on July 1, 2022, and finally to $15 on June 1, 2023.
Thumbs down to new information about a link between the percentage of ticks infected with disease-causing bacteria and the incidence of Lyme disease among humans in the state. So far this season, 1,700 to 1,800 ticks have been submitted for testing, and about 40 percent of those tested were found to be infected with Lyme disease or another tick-borne illness. Ticks from New Haven and Fairfield counties were less likely to be infected. Still, it’s another reminder that you can’t be too careful about ticks in warm weather.
Thumbs up to support for a bill aimed at requiring car manufacturers to include an alert in all vehicles that reminds drivers to check for children in the backseat in the hopes of avoiding fatalities. Supported by U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal, the law would require the technology in all vehicles. Nationwide, the number of children under the age of 5 who have died after being left in hot cars increased to 52 in 2018, up from 43 in 2017. Though many think such an incident could never happen to them, history has shown that even people who think they are careful can make tragic mistakes.
Thumbs up to a push for improved voting rights. A coalition of advocates wrote to Gov. Ned Lamont asking him to support changes to Connecticut’s automatic voter registration system to bring it to a variety of departments including health, education and social services, moving beyond the DMV. While early voting, another necessary change, is going to have to wait another year, advocates are hopeful about the registration change. In fact, the ideal situation would be for every eligible voter to be automatically registered without taking any additional action, but any step in that direction is welcome.
Thumbs up to our own Ken Dixon for his induction into the Connecticut Journalism Hall of Fame. Dixon, who grew up in Stamford and started covering Connecticut in 1977 at the Bridgeport Post and Telegram newspapers, has made his mark as a political reporter and columnist. On Twitter, he bills himself as the referee of that contact sport known as Connecticut politics. “The only thing I ever wanted to be was a columnist. I wanted to be Jimmy Breslin and Pete Hamill,” Dixon said. Even before his latest honor, there were already an army of Connecticut journalists who just want to be Ken Dixon.