Friday, May 18, 2007

The Courant Is On Fire!

For the past six months or so the Courant news organization that covers central Connecticut has suddenly rediscovered the art of journalism. Their coverage of education issues has been outstanding and they seem to have transitioned from being doormats for whatever the cat dragged in to becoming advocates and ambassadors for real news in the state.

Today, two pieces of interest to regular readers of my blog.

First Rick Green's column (why isn't this guy syndicated by the Tribune Company??? - HELLLLOOOOOOO!). Rick's Porn Case: Ducking For Cover continues the narrative of the Julie Amero case.
"The evidence is very strong, very clear-cut, that the defendant was the only person that had access to that computer," Smith said in his closing argument. The pop-ups argument, he told judge and jury, was ridiculous.

"It's very clear that that just didn't happen," Smith concluded.

He was careful to repeat the lurid names of the websites and to project the dirty pictures on a large screen for the court to see. These were images that never popped up in the classroom, but the state was too busy to bother with this detail.

"The evidence is overwhelming ... she purposefully went to these websites. ... We know that the images on there were offensive," Smith said, ramming his point home. "She clearly should not have allowed this to happen. The evidence is clear. She is guilty of all the charges."

Except when you consider the facts.
That's just a teaser. Click on the link to read the whole thing. This is compelling Connecticut journalism at its finest. Rick is one of the few mainstream journalists to take this story seriously and he gets it right.

Second, is an opinion piece by twenty-something Kevin Miner called Why I'm leaving Connecticut. Every taxpayer in this state should read this with an open mind. Connecticut thanks to the anti-leadership of Lieberman and an anemic Republican and Democratic political establishment is in the toilet as a place to live and work. An ever self-enriching government bureaucracy is economically bleeding the state dry of private sector incentives to do business here. The result? Citizens being over-taxed, underfunded locally, and a withering, ever-more-hostile business environment.

Kevin Miner speaks truth here:
It was a hard winter for me. To pay the bills, I worked part time for a media research company. However, at 20 hours a week, I couldn't even afford to pay my car insurance. In March, I thought things were finally picking up. I had an interview with a manufacturing company that wanted a technical writer. At last my hard work and perseverance had paid off. But it was not to be. During the interview, the supervisor told me that many in the company believed that my purpose at the company was to train workers overseas. I shook his hand and walked out the door.

But the nail in the coffin isn't Connecticut's present - it's the future. Connecticut is stagnant in several key categories. We rank 49th out of 50th in job growth and per capita federal spending. We rank behind Alabama in tax funds appropriated for operating expenses for colleges and universities, for student aid and for state higher-education agencies, according the Center for the Study of Education Policy at Illinois State University.

What's worse, our elected officials are rewarded, rather than castigated, for exacerbating the problem. While neighboring states New York and New Jersey have passed property tax reform to ease the tax burden on middle-class families, Connecticut has done no such thing. While Massachusetts has become the first state in the union to have universal health insurance, Connecticut also has done no such thing.

At a time when we should invest in fuel-efficient cars and transportation alternatives, our representatives suggest temporary suspension of the gas tax.

Where are the elected leaders who will invest in 21st-century energy production, lowering electric rates for homeowners and businesses? Where are the public officials who will invest in more efficient modes of transportation? Why, if we like our UConn Huskies so much, do we appropriate less tax money for post-secondary education operating expenses than Alabama? What realistic hope does Connecticut have to compete in the new economy?

At 25, I am part of the fastest-growing age segment that is leaving Connecticut. I did not want to leave, but a prohibitively high cost of living coupled with widespread complacency and ineptitude at the state Capitol have sealed my fate. I liked Connecticut's shorelines, its state parks and its midsize, human-scale cities. How many more people like me have to leave before the rest of the state gets the message?

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