Thumbs up, thumbs down

The News-Times - - OPINION -

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.

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