Mem­o­rable days and the Waf­fle King

The News-Times - - NEWS - DAN FREED­MAN @dan­freedma [email protected]

WASH­ING­TON — We all bear wit­ness to the his­tory of our time in per­sonal ways. For the great­est gen­er­a­tion, it’s where were you on Dec. 7,

1941, when Japan bombed Pearl Har­bor? Or maybe it’s D-Day, the 75th an­niver­sary of which fell on Thurs­day. For us ag­ing Baby Boomers, it’s where were you the day JFK was as­sas­si­nated?

And for vir­tu­ally ev­ery­one over 30, it’s where were you on 9/11?

Connecticu­t has its own sub-species of this phe­nom­e­non: Where were you on Dec.

14, 2012, the day of the mass shoot­ing at Sandy Hook Ele­men­tary School that took the lives of 20 chil­dren and six adult staff mem­bers?

U.S. Rep. Ja­hana Hayes,

D-5th Dis­trict, whose con­stituents in­clude res­i­dents of New­town, re­called that she had just been dis­missed from jury duty and was driv­ing through Waterbury when she heard the news. She im­me­di­ately de­toured to John F. Kennedy High School, where she was a so­cial stud­ies/his­tory teacher.

She sensed her stu­dents would have a lot questions, a lot of emo­tions to sort through. She was right.

It’s a “memory I can’t shake,” she said Wed­nes­day at a news con­fer­ence on Capi­tol Hill to mark 100 days since the Demo­cratic-con­trolled House passed its univer­sal back­ground check bill — with no com­pa­ra­ble ac­tion in the Repub­li­can­con­trolled Se­nate.

Hayes re­calls one girl ask­ing her, “Miss Hayes, why is this hap­pen­ing?”

And six years later in 2018 as Hayes was just get­ting started on her bid to rep­re­sent Connecticu­t’s Fifth Con­gres­sional Dis­trict, the same girl — iden­ti­fied only as “Sa­man­tha” — con­tacted her in the af­ter­math of the Park­land, Fla., mass shoot­ing.

“I want to work on your cam­paign be­cause I still don’t un­der­stand what hap­pened,” said Sa­man­tha, now a col­lege stu­dent in New Or­leans.

“For this one girl to ask me that same ques­tion six years apart, and for me still not to have an answer,” Hayes said. “For her to ques­tion ‘Why aren’t the adults do­ing any­thing?’ is a prob­lem that we all have to face.”

Hayes, of course, voted for the back­ground-check bill. She also voted for leg­is­la­tion that would ex­tend the time for the FBI to com­plete a back­ground check from three days to 10. The bill is aimed at clos­ing the loop­hole through which Charleston, S.C. mass- shooter Dy­lann Roof bought a firearm de­spite a dis­qual­i­fy­ing record of drug pos­ses­sion.

Now it’s up to the Se­nate. Hayes’ plea likely fell on deaf ears, but that didn’t stop her from say­ing: “We don’t have to agree on ev­ery­thing, but to con­tinue to do noth­ing is no longer ac­cept­able.”

Who is the Waf­fle King?

We re­cently queried the two se­na­tors and three reps from the West­ern part of the state: What do you think of Gov. Ned Lamont’s toll pro­posal? It took them a while but at last the re­sults are in.

Win­ner of the Frank­nessstein Mon­ster Award: Sen. Chris Murphy.

“Gov­er­nor Lamont is right to be ad­vo­cat­ing for us­ing tolls as a sta­ble, re­spon­si­ble source of fund­ing to pay for trans­porta­tion up­grades,” Murphy said. “If some­one has a bet­ter idea to fix this prob­lem for good, I’m all ears. But so far the gov­er­nor’s idea seems to be the only serious one on the ta­ble.” So re­mem­ber that when you’re on the highway of the fu­ture, and ... the lights above start blink­ing on your dash­board E-Z Pass

On the other side, the Waf­fle House Award goes to the usu­ally blunt-spo­ken Sen. Richard Blu­men­thal.

“Once the Gen­eral Assem­bly and the gov­er­nor come to an agree­ment on how best to fund state trans­porta­tion projects mov­ing for­ward, I will work with state lead­ers in any man­ner nec­es­sary to fur­ther the goal of im­prov­ing Connecticu­t’s in­fra­struc­ture,” Blu­men­thal said.

Wait … what? Isn’t that pre­cisely the prob­lem? Lamont and Repub­li­cans in the Leg­is­la­ture are at loggerhead­s. So now is the time the step up to the plate and swing for the long ball. The score is tied, right? Why wait un­til the score is 10-2? Noth­ing clutch about that.

Reps. Ja­hana Hayes and Rosa DeLauro also oc­cupy the safe mid­dle, focused more on beef­ing up fed­eral highway ex­pen­di­tures (even though the Highway Trust Fund is in deficit ter­ri­tory and Connecticu­t ac­tu­ally draws more from it than it chips in).

Rep. Jim Himes didn’t come out clearly for tolls ei­ther, but he did toss a grenade at Repub­li­cans who fa­vor fi­nanc­ing through bond is­sues, not tolls.

“I’m tired of politi­cians who talk about the im­por­tance of in­fra­struc­ture but op­pose mea­sures to pay for it,” Himes said. “Even worse are those who pro­pose bor­row­ing to pay for it … As the ar­gu­ment over tolls demon­strates, this is not an easy con­ver­sa­tion. But un­less we’re hon­est and open minded, our coun­try will con­tinue to crum­ble.”

Tyler Size­more / Hearst Connecticu­t Me­dia

U.S. Sen. Richard Blu­men­thal, D-Conn., and Gov. Ned Lamont.

Erik Traut­mann / Hearst Connecticu­t Me­dia

U.S. Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., and U.S. Rep. Jim Himes, 4th Dis­trict.

Con­tributed photo

U.S. Rep. Ja­hana Hayes, D-5th Dis­trict, voted for the univer­sal back­ground check bill and leg­is­la­tion that would ex­tend the time for the FBI to com­plete a back­ground check from three days to 10.

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