George A. Sprecace M.D.,
J.D., F.A.C.P. and Allergy Associates of New London,
RESPONSE (Archives)...Daily Commentary on News of the Day
This is a new section. It will offer fresh,
quick reactions by myself to news and events of the day, day by day, in
this rapid-fire world of ours. Of course, as in military campaigns,
a rapid response in one direction may occasionally have to be followed
by a "strategic withdrawal" in another direction. Charge that to
"the fog of war", and to the necessary flexibility any mental or military
campaign must maintain to be effective. But the mission will always
be the same: common sense, based upon facts and "real politick", supported
by a visceral sense of Justice and a commitment to be pro-active.
That's all I promise.
to return to the current Rapid Response list
MONDAY through THURSDAY, May 30
through June 2, 2005
Some big news stories this week, as well as some old ones that still
Vive la Arrogance. President Chirac of France and the leaders
of Holland and Germany are paying the price for marching way ahead of their
people with respect to the European Union. Unable to implement needed
reforms to the socialistic life-styles that their citizens have gotten
quite accostomed to - despite their national inability to afford them,
and turning deaf ears to legitimate concerns about rampant immigration,
"full speed ahead...damn the torpedoes". It will be interesting to
watch whether they can swim. See also "Marianne Unfaithful",
by Jeffrey Cimbalo and David Frum, WSJ yesterday, Opinion, pA20.
Today we learned that Sudan, a land-mass larger than France and
the site of the latest on-going episode of ethnic cleansing...or whatever
it is...around Darfur, has about 2,000 U.N. representatives trying
to restore order! But never mind the disconnect between the
magnitude of the needs and the available help. African leaders want
nothing of any effective "outside" help, and maintain that Africa must
solve its own problems. Sounds good to me. What a human tragedy
that continent is. But, as discussed earlier in this section, any
help from the outside should be strictly humanitarian, or on a "quid pro
quo" basis. The influence of important natural resources like oil,
the ascendancy of Islam in Africa, the endemic ignorance and the rule of
the jungle there make for a "witches' brew" that only the strongest and
ruthless can stomach. America need not apply.
"Deep Throat" just got his voice back. And so have the old
apologists for the corrupt second Nixon administration, calling this patriot
essentially a traitor. I remember "Black Saturday", the Saturday
Night Massacre involving Nixon's illegal actions against Special Prosecuter
Archibald Cox and two Attorneys General. Believe it or not, I was
prepared to march on Washington...and I would have had a lot of company.
Some people can only "see the light"...of stars...after a 2 by 4 has hit
them across the skull.
Suicide bombers. That problem has me totally stumped.
And reading more about "Islam"...the religion and the movement...is more
unsettling for the insight it gives. See "No God But God",
by Resa Aslan, a new book reviewed in NYTimes Book Review section, Sunday,
May 29, 2005, p10.
Health care coverage. After so many years of pushing the idea,
I find more and more support out there for health savings accounts and
for the return of the consumer (patient) to the cost-expenditure equasion.
See "O Health-Care Leader, Where Art Thou?", by Holman W. Jenkins
Jr., WSJ yesterday, Opinion, pA21.
Public Schools...again. The latest boondoggle seems
to be the rush to build more Charter and Magnet and "Friendship" and special
interest schools with already limited public funds...anything to avoid
allowing vouchers to permit free choice by parents - including choice of
private or parochial schools that have the room and that certainly have
the capability. And the "educators" and their stooges don't even
do that fairly. See "Charter School Laboratory", the editorial
in the WSJ Tuesday, May 31, 2005, Opinion, pA16. See also the current
experience in New London, Ct. regarding current and planned school
construction. When will there be a "Deep Throat" for all this?
SATURDAY and SUNDAY, May 28 and
"Compromise". Suddenly a favorite word in the media and in
some liberal quarters. Personally, my approach to many conflicts
is: "Let us reason together". But there are some caveats: 1) the
person with the power does not usually suggest compromise; 2) it takes
two sides to compromise; 3) there are some issues for which compromise
is not possible. At the national level, there is one issue, abortion,
which is inherent in various other conflicts: appointments to the Federal
Judiciary, embryonic stem-cell research, the "morning - after pill", secular
vs. faith-based culture, and of course abortion itself. In my opinion,
there is only way in which "compromise"- or more accurately "accomodation"-can
be achieved on this issue: accept the beginning of human life as occurring
at conception...and then engage in a societal dialogue regarding when the
taking of a human life is morally and legally justified. Such an
honest approach, as distinguished from the hypocritical, cynical and dishonest
approach now taken, could bear fruit and at the same time could heal a
national cancer. Remember, whether we talk about world peace or about
domestic peace: Justice before Peace.
Uh-oh. "Health Leaders Seek Consensus Over Uninsured", by
Robert Pear (NYTimes, today, pA1). And once again they are doing
it "in secret". Hillary Clinton, where are you? So far, the
most logical quote is the following: "'People are uninsured for different
reasons,' said Dr. Mary E. Frank, the president of the American Academy
of Family Physicians and a participant in the talks. 'No one solution
will work for everyone. We need different solutions for different
groups of the ininsured'" (National, pA19). Will we get that...or
will we get another camel, a horse designed by committee?
The NY Times offers several unusually enlightened opinion articles today
in the Week In Review section. One of these is the editorial entitled
the Troops: The Death Spiral of the Volunteer Army" (pWk 9).
Secretary Rumsfeld, call your office! Another is "A Short History
of Class Antagonism in the Black Community", by Brent Staples (Wk p9):
Cosby brought a hidden truth into public view...That the truth is finally
out represents an important signpost along the way to a realistic discussion
Here's a Litmus Test for how far public schools and their "educators"
will go to disadvantage the students in their charge. "Food
Fight: Are School Vending Machines A Sweet Deal, Or Simply Providing Sweets?",
by Alison Leigh Cowan, (NYTimes today, Connecticut, Sec. 14, p1).
Considering the epidemic of obesity afflicting our young people, the following
"no brainer" is the question being gravely considered by school leaders:
school districts truly afford to give up all the quarters that students
feed into the machines?" Let's wait for the thrilling climax
to this one.
WEDNESDAY through FRIDAY, May 25
through 27, 2005
It looks like, despite the majority of Americans having spoken in the
last election, we now have a new group of national legislators: let's call
them "Carter Republicans". After all, it was then-President
Jimmy Carter who...having attained the most powerful and influential position
in the world...did not know how to use, did not use it, and thereby created
a vacuum into which all manner of mischief was drawn. Fast
forward to too many of the Republicans in this House of Representatives
and Senate who don't realize their power and opportunity to get some good
things done, for a change. That was never a problem with
Democrats when they were in power. Charles Krauthammer describes
the problem: "GOP Flinches And An Opportunity Is Missed" (The Day
today, Commentary, pA11). The editorial in the WSJ refers to it as
"Republicans At Bay". "The Democratic/media explanation for this performance
is that Republicans are 'over-reaching"' and trying to 'govern from the
right.'" We should be so lucky. The fact is that they are governing
from nowhere at all. Far from pushing their agenda, they seem cowed
by their opposition into playing it safe and attempting too little."
(pA12). The "Carter Republicans" should remember the fate of their
MONDAY and TUESDAY, May 23 and 24,
How did George Washington, a man who said what he meant and
meant what he said, end up lending his name to that bastion of "creative
ambiguity" and "plausible deniability", Washington, D.C.? Two news
stories today raise that question.
"It is said that the most important thing in life is sincerity.
Once you can fake that, you've got it made!
The newly minted "Mod-Squad", 14 moderate Republicans and Democrats announced
with a flourish that they had averted the "nuclear option" (read
"democratic process") with a compromise regarding the future use of the
filibuster and the possible elimination of the filibuster as a device to
thwart the will of the majority. Henceforth, the Democrats pledge
to use it only in "extraordinary circumstances". Meanwhile, Senate
Majority Leader Frist clearly announced that eliminating the filibuster
for judicial nominees was still an option. Say what??
A report on National Public Radio today described the travels recently
of Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton. First she met with a gathering
of Democrats and fed them red meat. About two hours later, in the
countryside with a bunch of farmers, she was stroking them in their own
SUNDAY, May 22, 2005
Regarding interrogation procedures used by our agents in the war
against terrorism, errors are...as usual...reported in the passive tense:
"mistakes were made". Alright, let's give our forces the benefit
of the doubt for past blunders. After all, they encountered unprecedented
challenges in the last few years since 9/11. But what about going
forward. What is our accepted definition of "torture", by us and
to us? What are proper and improper interrogation procedures to be
applied by our agents? I don't expect an e-mail back from the Pentagon
on these questions. But I fully expect that there are answers that
have been promulgated to our forces by now. No more free rides for
breaches of such policies or for serious injuries to our self-image and
to our image abroad.
Let's hope that the Vatican, in trying to improve relations with
does not barter the freedom of the people of Taiwan. That would definitely
not be "Christian".
When do "Head Start" and all the other pre-school initiatives change
from valuable early education and socialization experiences to lost early
childhoods benefiting only all the "single parent families"? Pre-schoolers
being expelled is the mine canary. Educators have gotten so much wrong
over the last thirty years. Can't they at least turn a new page with
the youngest of our offspring?
Here's a new book that is a "must read", even though the author
is at least two decades late in writing it: "A Call To Action",
by Hank McKinnell (Chairman and CEO, Pfizer, Inc.), McGraw-Hill, 2005.
More on this in the future; but it's message is reportedly that the "Health
Care Industry" is more accurately considered to be run by people and their
interest in their own health, than by medical professionals forced to spend
most of their time and resources putting Humpty Dumpty back together again.
Not a new idea, but we can use the help. (See also offerings by myself
and others through the years on this subject, found elsewhere on this web-site).
SATURDAY, May 21, 2005
Still more about America's current efforts in the Middle East.
As someone said a long time ago: "Nations do not have friends; they
have interests." Without disparaging some courageous and friendly
leaders in that part of the world, we are in Iraq and Afganistan in large
part because it is in our national interest, present and future.
If we just wanted to do charity work, we would be in Darfur. (And
do you see any other nations rushing to Darfur, as we all should... in
charity?). We are there to spread democracy and justice, because
" First Justice, then Peace". We are also there to protect our main
sources of oil; to ravage the group that caused 9/11; possibly to get a
handle on the world drug trade; to engage Russia's oil-rich former border
States; to protect Israel; to discourage the spread of nuclear weapons;
and to keep a lid on a boiling cauldron. This is multiple choice:
choose any of the above reasons, including "all of the above", and let's
get to this job as a united nation, similar to post-December 7, 1941.
Let's stop the soul-searching, the self-flagellation, the self-hatred.
We're starting to believe the crap that is being thrown at us, from our
enemies and from our "friends". Admiral Yamamoto, of Pearl Harbor
infamy, afterward feared "that we have awakened a sleeping giant."
That's exactly what we should want the Middle East to respect, if not fear.
David Brooks has it just right in today's article, published in The Day,
entitled: "Taking Time To Bash Newsweek Magazine" (Commentary, pA7).
Commenting on the terrorists, the Islamic extremists and their "holy men":
"These are the extremists, the real enemy. Let's keep our eye on
the ball." And let's be clear on one point: victory
in this war of guns and ideas is not inevitable.
FRIDAY, May 20, 2005
More about Islam, as practiced in some quarters, and about Justice.
This is prompted by the very legitimate furor over alleged (and since reportedly
unfounded ) desecration of the Koran by American agents in the Middle East.
Read "Hypocricy Most Holy", by Ali Al-Ahmed, Director of the Saudi
Institute in Washington (WSJ today, Opinion, pA14). "Although
considered as holy in Islam and mentioned in the Quran dozens of times,
the Bible is banned in Saudi Arabia...But when it comes to Saudi Arabia
we are not talking about most Muslims, but a tiny minority of hard-liners
who constitute the Wahhabi Sect." Reportedly, neither the Bible
nor the Koran are immune from desecration in Saudi Arabia when the situation
is deemed to warrant it. How do you deal with such people?
Very carefully...and from a position of strength.
All the news media are excited today by the latest report, out of South
Korea, relating to the cloning of human embryos. Whatever
follows in these stories, about legitimizing the effort with good intentions,
is negated by President Bush's statement today: "I've made it very clear
to the Congress that the use of federal money, taxpayers' money, to promote
which destroys life in order to save life - I'm against that.
And therefore if the bill does that, I will veto it." See also
my commentary, published a few years ago, on "...abortion
with a pretty face". It is reproduced on this web-site under
"The Involved Citizen...Abortion". The entire "Silent Holocaust"
should end, not be acclaimed, encouraged and supported. Shades of
the Medical and Legal communities in Hitler's Germany during the 1930's....Folks,
this is not rocket science. This is Ethics 101.
MONDAY through THURSDAY, May 16
through 19, 2005
Of polls and polecats. The recent polls seem to suggest that,
as far as President Bush is concerned, he can't do anything right.
First, look at how the questions were presented. Then, consider recent
stories about corporate bankruptcies as management get their bloated bonuses
anyway, pension losses for long-time employees and retirees, hundreds of
thousands of manufacturing and textile jobs lost to "that great sucking
sound" of unavoidable globalization, constant bad news from Iraq, and the
continuing saga of "torture" at the hands of Americans. What's to
feel good about? The President and his administration have generally
a good game plan...in fact, a very courageous game plan...for this country,
here and abroad. But they are doing a poor job of explaining and
selling it. Continue this, and Republican control of Congress will
be lost as early as 2006. Ordinarily, that would'nt be so terrible.
But with this crop of Democrats? "Articulate, arrogant and
asinine." Meanwhile, instead of a Prozak, we Republicans should reach
for an article in the Monday, May 16, 2005 edition of the WSJ, entitled
Country", by Fouad Ajami (Opinion, pA16). "George W. Bush
has unleashed a tsunami on this region," a shrewd Kuwaiti merchant who
knows the way of his world said to me".
And what is this world that we Westerners have ventured into?
I have tried of late to understand something of Islam and the Koran.
I began with the distressingly informative article in the NYTimes ("A World
Of Ways To Say 'Islamic Law", by David Rohde, Sunday, March 13, 2005, Wk
p4). Then I picked up Michael Cook's "The Koran...a very short introduction"
(Oxford University Press 2000); and "The Everything Koran Book", by Duaa
Anwar (Adams Media, Avon, Ma. 2004). What I learned is that Muslims
can claim authority for just about any actions from a much more vast range
of interpretations of the Koran than is ever possible for Christians or
for Jews. They missed the Renaissance entirely. Are they
going to miss their second opportunity also?
FRIDAY through SUNDAY, May 13 through
About nuclear non-proliferation. Once again, Thomas Friedman
tells it like it is. See "Why No One Stops Spread Of Nukes",
in The Day, Thursday, May 12, 2005, Commentary, pA11. And, while
you're at it, pick up his excellent book entitled "Longitudes and Attitudes"
(Farrar, Straus, Giroux, New York, 2002), a compilation of his NYTimes
articles before and epecially after 9/11. You may or may not like
what you read...but there is no question that these are the relevant facts
In my opinion, the Judicial branch of our government, local and
national, has had a bad time of it in recent months, partly due to its
own hubris. Cases like Schiavo in Florida and Michael Ross
in Connecticut have made a mockery of the most important attribute of a
Justice system. Just as the most important attributes of a physician,
in the eyes of a patient, are ability, affability, and availability...in
reverse order, the most important attributes of a system of Justice,
in the eyes of society, are justice, predictability, and finality...in
reverse order! In cases like the above, finality has been
in very short supply. What happened to judges and courts declining
to address an issue if they construe it to be "a political question"
more appropriately addressed to the legislative branches of our government?
is why courts and judges are losing standing and prestige. Beware
losing the only glue holding this experiment in self-government together.
The democrats and President Putin may criticize it, but the U.S. Supreme
Court did the right thing following a month of chaos in the 2000 election.
How stupid does the Pentagon think that parents and their military-aged
children are? VERY STUPID. First they negate existing contracts
with their volunteer enlistees by extending their dangerous tours of duty,
actions taken because they don't want to be realistic about the need for
a fair draft. Then they successfully argue the legality of such action
before the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals. Then, failing in their enlistment
goals for the second year in a row, they offer a 1 1/4 year enlistment,
subject of course to the usual total 8 year obligation and vulnerability
to repeated call-ups and extensions. This is desperation. When
are they going to get real about U.S. military needs and obligations in
a very dangerous world? I guess only when Rummy resigns or is
fired. President Bush, a clear limit to loyalty should be common
sense in the face of a clear call to your duty.
THURSDAY, May 12, 2005
Several recent newspaper articles warrant attention.
"Next Step Toward Digitized Health Records", by Sarah Rubenstein,
WSJ Monday, May 9, 2005. The idea of converting all medical records
(including those of private practitioners) to electronic data is, in the
near term, pie-in-the-sky. But what is described here is do-able
now by any of us. Consider it.
"Calling Democrats' Bluff", by David Brooks, NYTimes, Sunday, May
8, 2005, Op-Ed, Wk p13. If the Republicans were to do that today
with regard to John Bolton and regarding the so-called "nuclear option":
"Wouldn't that be loverly?" A related article involving Democratic
bankruptcy is by Charles Krauthammer: "Democrats Use Social Security
For Short-Term Political Advantage", The Day, Friday, May 6, 2005,
"The Pope and AIDS", by Nicholas D. Kristof, ibid. "Let's
hope that Pope Benedict XVI quickly realizes that the worst sex scandal
in the Catholic Church doesn't involve predatory priests. Rather,
it involves the Vatican's hostility to condoms, which is creating more
AIDS orphans every day." And the same prohibition against artificial
contraception, as distinguished from the abomination of abortion, has greatly
- and I believe unnecessarily - complicated the fight against the
latter. Sometimes being a Roman Catholic is really difficult.
What do you call a "brain drain" when the domestic supply is never
even produced? A disaster in the making! See "Our PhD Deficit",
by Augustine and Richter, WSJ, Wednesday, May 4, 2005, Opinion, pA18.
Our Public Education "system" needs a Marshall Plan, based upon COMPETITION!
And Some People Are Worried About Conservative Christians...
A MESSAGE FROM AN APPALLED OBSERVER:
Today I went to visit the new World War II Memorial in Washington, DC.
I got an unexpected history lesson. Because I'm a baby boomer, I
was one of the youngest in the crowd. Most were the age of my parents,
veterans of "the greatest war," with their families. It was a beautiful
day, and people were smiling and happy to be there. Hundreds of us
milled around the memorial, reading the inspiring words of Eisenhower and
Truman that are engraved there.
On the Pacific side of the memorial, a group of us gathered to read
the words President Roosevelt used to announce the attack on Pearl Harbor:
Yesterday, December 7, 1941-- a date which will live in infamy--the
United States of America was suddenly and deliberately attacked.
One elderly woman read the words aloud:
With confidence in our armed forces, with the unbounding determination
of our people, we will gain the inevitable triumph.
But as she read, she was suddenly turned angry. "Wait a minute,"
she said, "they left out the end of the quote. They left out the most important
part. Roosevelt ended the message with "so help us God.'"
Her husband said, "You are probably right. We're not supposed to say
things like that now."
"I know I'm right," she insisted. "I remember the speech." The
two looked dismayed, shook their heads sadly and walked away.
Listening to their conversation, I thought to myself, "Well, it has
been over 50 years. She's probably forgotten."
But she had not forgotten. She was right.
I went home and pulled out the book! my book club is reading --- "Flags
of Our Fathers" by James Bradley. It's all about the battle at Iwo Jima.
I haven't gotten too far in the book. It's tough to read because
it's a graphic description of the WWII battles in the Pacific.
But right there it was on page 58. Roosevelt's speech to the nation
ends in "so help us God."
The people who edited out that part of the speech when they engraved
it on the memorial could have fooled me. I was born after the war.
But they couldn't fool the people who were there. Roosevelt's words are
engraved on their hearts.
Now I ask: "WHO GAVE THEM THE RIGHT TO CHANGE THE WORDS OF HISTORY?????????"
MONDAY through WEDNESDAY, May 9
through 11, 2005
What do United Airlines, the Bankruptcy Court action regarding its
pension obligations, and the new Bankruptcy Act have in common? Consider
this: "if you owe the bank a little, the bank owns you. If you
owe the bank a lot, you own the bank". So, United Airlines can't
be allowed to default; but millions of Americans, half of whom become insolvent
because of health care bills, are allowed. When the national airline
industry was de-regulated in the late 1970's, it was assumed that only
the fittest would survive. What happened to the clamor for individual
responsibility, especialy among Republicans?
What do BRAC, the Pentagon, a fair Selective Service and the future
of "Muslim democracy" have in common? Having erred seriously
with regard to post-war Iraq, the Pentagon is again wrong regarding each
of these other issues. We need, and must afford, a much stronger
and flexible defense structure than we have - not a weaker one.
What do the FDA, some medical journal articles and snake oil have in
common? A lot, regrettably. Remember, when all is said
and done: "ask your doctor!"
SUNDAY, May 8, 2005
President Bush's European trip. I saw and heard what seemed
to be an impromptu comment by this man, who is rapidly showing himself
to be a natural leader:
"The way to spread peace is to spread democracy. That's the lesson
of World War II."
Quite a contrary example is given by Kevin Cathcart, executive director
of a prominent gay group that is attacking a new FDA regulation
prohibiting sperm bank donations from men who have been homosexually
active within five years...an effort to screen out potential carriers of
the AIDS virus. Some gay movement leaders continue to be in denial
- or simply refuse to admit - what started the AIDS pandemic, and what
is perpetuating it...except in Africa. Where does totally self-absorbed
end and totally reckless begin? Such "leaders" do not help the
gay community or their causes.
Back to good leaders. Condoleeza Rice is a class act in an
off-off Broadway show called the U.S. State Department.
And then, where is Sam Walton when we need him. Wal-Mart,
his creation, seems to have been taken over by an army of arrogant and
soul-less bean counters. While this massive company's employees earn
an average of $9.68 per hour and about $17,000 per year, over 80% of its
products are purchased overseas, mainly in China. However globally
oriented you are, that sounds un-American.
SATURDAY, May 7, 2005
Judging by V. Putin's recent statement about the fall of the Soviet
Union having been the greatest catastrophe of the 20th century, and his
recent objection to President Bush's current visit to Latvia, Lithuania
and Estonia on his trip to Moscow...I look into his soul and all I see
is an unreconstructed Soviet agent. Or could he represent one definition
of a "statesman": a person held upright by equally opposing forces"?
Either way, we have to deal with him; but we should never trust him.
These other comments relate to "Religion". Why can't the people
of Kansas not see Evolution and Creationism as two mutually inclusive
explanations for the first days and for their progeny? Given the
numerous translations of the Bible through the ages, seeking an absolutely
literal interpretation of those words is quixotic. Meanwhile, Roman
Catholics should be standing tall now, after witnessing their Church
continuing to stand up for bed-rock principles, in its choice of a new
leader and in the battles it continues to wage. In fact, its newest
and most numerous members, in Africa and in Latin America, are its most
conservative. A different spectacle is presented unfortunately by
the troubles in the Anglican / Episcopalian church. As I understand
it, their problems run deeper than the highly publicized issues of gay
marriages and gay bishops. Some of their hierarchy are having trouble
believing in the Divinity of Jesus. Their problems can't get more
basic than that. As Catholics feel a close kinship with Episcopalians,
we wish them well - and we pray for them - in their efforts to resolve
these issues. And finally, we read in the liberal press about the
developing "religious divide" in this country. The only divide
is between moral people on one side...and immoral and amoral people on
the other. Get used to it. That won't change.
FRIDAY, May 6, 2005
Some local news with national relevance: The New London Development
Corporation, whose work on behalf of the City of New London, CT is
the topic of the pending U.S. Supreme Court case entitled Kelo v City
of New London, has managed to do a lot of good work despite the
flurry of suits that have targeted it. The following annual report
speaks for itself. Meanwhile, regarding the USSC case to be handed
down in June, my prediction continues to be: Right cause...Wrong Case.
ANNUAL MEETING 2005
DAVID M. GOEBEL, CHIEF OPERATING OFFICER
2004 was a year of positive results for the Corporation. In our
two pronged approach of economic development and community development,
we have advanced the ball down the field in both areas despite some delay
due to the litigation which has surrounded elements of the project.
Our Community Development Initiative, or CDI, is limited to those areas
where, in partnership with other City wide organizations, we are able to
enhance the opportunity for a larger number of the residents of New London
to contribute to and be a part of the economic improvements which are occurring.
I would like to briefly discuss what we have done in these two areas.
The first thing I would like to say is that none of the economic development
work that we have done since this project commenced would have been possible
without the support, financial and otherwise of the State of Connecticut.
They have guided us, encouraged us, and most importantly, funded us in
our work to improve New London. Their commitment is immense and continuing.
In 2004 we transferred over $36 million of completed work to the City
of New London. This included portions of Howard Street, the roundabout
at the intersection of Pequot Avenue, Willets Avenue, Shaw Street and Howard
Street, and all the new roads and sidewalks you see in the Fort Trumbull
peninsula as well several miles of infrastructure which you can not see
below the surface of the ground. That work had been largely completed
in 2003 with a few items held over to 2004. It consisted of more
than 35 miles of conduit installed to contain the new electric and telephone
lines, approximately 1.5 miles of drainage pipe, one mile of new water
main, 3 miles of rigid steel conduit for street lights, over 11 miles of
sidewalks, 125 street lights, 51 manholes, 11,000 tons of asphalt, and
about 270 trees. Additionally, the project will use about one quarter
million tons of new fill to both replace contaminated soil and to raise
the land out of the flood plain. This is equivalent to 250 football
fields of dirt spread one foot high. There are a total of 5 gross
particle separators installed. These devices remove over 80% of the
suspended solids in storm water run off, resulting in a dramatic decrease
in the amount of pollution entering the harbor as a result of rainfall
and snow melt. This over $36 million of work and materials given
to the City represents a significant improvement in the aging infrastructure
of our community. I raise this because some have bemoaned the loss
of $1 million in taxable receipts thus far during this project. I
believe that the more than $36 million in infrastructure improvements
is a pretty good return on the $1 million in tax money foregone due to
The Fort Trumbull peninsula is ready for development. We have
a revised agreement with our developer, Corcoran Jennison, which has that
development now underway. CJ is in negotiations with the General
Services Administration to secure a leasing contract that will move the
Coast Guard Research and Development Center and International Ice Patrol
from Avery Point in Groton to former Navy Building #2 on the peninsula.
There are a series of milestones CJ and NLDC have agreed to meet and they
are coming up quickly. By May 15, 2005 NLDC must submit the letter
to the Federal Emergency Management Agency, or FEMA, to obtain the certification
that the land has been removed from the flood plain. On that
same date, CJ and NLDC must sign the document that leases Building #2 and
the land under it to CJ, who in turn will lease it to GSA for the Coast
Guard. Both of these are currently on track. And it is important
to remember that the taxing clock starts when CJ and NLDC sign their leasing
agreement. These items are followed quickly by a requirement for
the NLDC to have the remaining sections of the Riverwalk under contract
by June 15, 2005 and CJ must take their plans for the housing and revised
hotel to Planning and Zoning Commission for consideration by July 15, 2005.
So, as they say ‘spring is in the air’, I say here, ‘progress is in the
air’. Development progress on the Fort Trumbull peninsula is underway.
We should not lose sight of the delays caused by the lawsuits that have
surrounded this project. There were lawsuits filed by the Fort Trumbull
Conservancy against the plans for the new roads and the Riverwalk in October
2001 that were not resolved until October 2003 when the CT Supreme Court
ruled in favor the City and NLDC. That is a 2-year loss of time.
Likewise, law suits filed by the Fort Trumbull Conservancy against the
plans for Building #2 and the initial hotel in December 2001 which were
not resolved until September 2003 when the CT Supreme Court dismissed the
appeal of an Appellate Court decision. These lawsuits were initiated
with the specific purpose of delaying the project, and thereby delaying
the flow of tax dollars to this distressed community. During the
delay caused by these lawsuits the economic conditions within the nation
and the community changed, which in turn affected the sequence of the original
project. Both CJ and the NLDC recognized this reality and undertook
mediation to reach a revised agreement so that development could start.
This revised agreement was reached in September 2004 and reduced to contract
language by November 2004. It is the work and the time lines for
that work specified within this revised agreement that we are marching
to as discussed above. And, we are on track. But it is worth
pondering where we would be today if these needless lawsuits had not been
Please note that I have said nothing about the current lawsuit being
considered by the US Supreme Court. It is inappropriate to comment
on that action in more than a general sense until it is decided by the
COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT INITIATIVE
The Community Development Initiative (CDI) is affiliated with the New
London Development Corporation to the extent that those functions it performs
need to be tied to improving the economic climate within our community.
It does this by promoting and improving the economic health and quality
of life of New London’s most vulnerable children and families. There
is one staff member coordinating CDI under funding provided largely by
the Annie E. Casey Foundation (UPS).
This past year CDI has focused primarily on children and families by:
supporting early care and education through the New London Children
First/School Readiness Council and partnering with the United Way of SE
co-hosting an economic development summit with Mr. Art Rolnick, Senior
Vice President of the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis;
initiating the Commission on Children’s Parent Leadership Training
Institute – PLTI New London – a 20-week empowerment course for parents;
sponsorship of bi-lingual caravan and educational forums hosted by
Resident and parent engagement is a proven and well-documented strategy
for positively impacting the life circumstances of children and families.
Resident and parent engagement in civic life, neighborhoods and schools
yields economic development not only for the individuals, but even greater
yields for the community as a whole as residents gain self-sufficiency
and contribute in a more meaningful way to the tax base of our community.
CDI continues at the grassroots level to promote long-term economic development
by strengthening families and neighborhoods in New London.
HouseNew London is a stand-alone program that is technically not a part
of CDI. Still it has goals that align closely with CDI in that it
endeavors to enable citywide individuals to improve their personal situation
through home ownership.
This program has two parts to it, property acquisition and rehabilitation
and homebuyer education. The goal is to change selected neighborhoods
from a predominantly absentee landlord neighborhood to a neighborhood of
resident homeowners. Using funds provided by Lawrence and Memorial
Hospital and the Palmer Fund we have purchased 17 properties to date and
have 4 more that are in various stages of the acquisition process.
Of those seventeen purchased, six have been either newly constructed or
completely renovated. Four of those completed properties have been
sold to first time homebuyers. Much of this work has been done on
Belden Street and West Coit Street, and I encourage you to take a drive
down there and see the changes that are taking place.
Three of our pending acquisitions are located at the entrance to Belden
Street, on the corner of Belden Street and Belden Court. There an
existing two-family house will be renovated, and two new two-family homes
will be constructed. This is an exciting project for which we have
received acquisition support from the City’s Community Development Block
Grant allocation. Each of our three non-profit developer
partners plans to develop one of the lots.
The Homebuyer’s Club offers a course that prepares first-time homebuyers
for the process of purchasing and maintaining a home. This year,
an additional course was implemented which offers landlord training to
those who intend to purchase homes with rental units. The homebuyer
education program has graduated 60 individuals so far and 14 of them have
become homeowners. There is no requirement that individuals that
complete the course under our direction must purchase a home that the other
half of the program develops. However, to purchase one of our homes
you must have completed the course. As individuals complete the course
we are working to get them pre-approved for a mortgage so that they are
fully mortgage ready when the houses are ready. It is very true that
home ownership fuels the financial security of the next generation more
than any other single action.
HouseNew London will soon be the recipient of $330,000 in federal HOME
– American Dream Downpayment Initiative funds. These funds will be
available as down payment assistance grants to first-time homebuyers graduating
from our Homebuyer’s Club training or other certified training courses.
Each grant will be for $10,000, or 6% of the home’s purchase price, whichever
So, there are several ways in which the Corporation has improved the
economic climate within New London and the region. The primary way
is through traditional economic development, working to bring in new businesses
and encouraging growth in others. However we also have been involved
in enhancing the opportunity for residents to actually have the ability
to purchase goods from these businesses and for those same people to be
able to take part in the American dream, and own their own home.
In all these regards, we have had a good year. We firmly believe
that the best is yet to come.
THURSDAY, May 5, 2005
Since stories often come in bunches, let's be lumpers today.
Iraq. Congress seem ready to continue funding the war, ("dog
bites man story"); but the real story involves the unrelated provisions
going along for the ride, like eliminating drivers licences for illegal
aliens ("man bites dog story"). What took you so long?
The Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty is being reviewed at the U.N.
Can anything substantive come out of this? See a recent related
suggestion in this section. Only solid agreement among the "haves"
can impose, if necessary, the only workable solution among the "have-nots".
Reject nuclear arms and receive free nuclear energy plants. Otherwise,
regarding weapons-grade nuclear facilities...you build it - you lose it.
Computer hardware and soft-ware: "defective, unreasonably dangerous".
Not a day goes by when another alarm is raised regarding internet invasions.
One of the most recent involves high-tech extortion: "If you want to avoid
your multi-million system ruined, send $______". It was just a matter
of time. Where are Eliot Spitzer, Richard Blumenthal, and all the
enterprising lawyers when we need them? Compared to this, medical
malpractice is penny-ante.
Abortion. Both parties are now trying to blur the differences
between themselves by blowing smoke on this subject. Beware.
That action could really make many elections revolve around one issue.
Persons of integrity, ie. anti-abortion people, have no options here.
If there ever was black-and-white, this is it.
News Flash! There is a positive connection between spirituality
and good health. And people who attend religious services fairly
regularly have better health and greater life expectancy.
Public Education, and the "dissembling miscreants" who continue
to demand the status quo. What else can I say? But I'll keep
MONDAY through WEDNESDAY, May 2
through 4, 2005
After all that, if you want to end this session up-beat, visit the section
entitled "A Bit of Whimsy", also on this web-site.
First the fun stuff. Laura Bush was a hit while roasting her
husband at the recent White House Correspondents' Association Dinner.
Some of her observations:
George is a real party pooper...gets to sleep at 9:00 PM. George,
if you're going to eliminate tyranny in the world, you're going to have
to stay up past nine o'clock at night. Also, as a result, I'm a "desperate
George and I have similarities and differences. One difference is
that I can pronounce "nuclear".
George has one solution to any problem on our ranch: get a chain saw and
hack it down. That's why he gets along so well with Dick Cheney and
News Flash: men holding hands. In the Arab world, "holding
hands is the warmest expression of affection between men,"said Samir Khalaf,
a sociology professor at American University of Beirut in Lebanon.
"It's a sign of solidarity and kinship". (NYTimes yesterday, The
Basics, Wk p2). Now let's see what the Democrats make out of that.
How "figures lie and liars figure" in the Social Security debate.
The page 1 article in yesterday's NYTimes on this subject must be read
closely to avoid being misled. The President's recent proposal to
"means test" future SS payments is not so bad...and represents an equitable
solution to the problem, if combined with the option of all citizens to
derive and retain more from their SS taxes than they now do. Of course,
there would be less money for the politicians to spend from today's SS
cookie jar. And the Baby Boomers would have to decide
to avoid Nicholas D. Kristof's epithet in yesterday's NYTimes: "The Greediest
Generation" (Op-Ed, Wk p15).
The truth about lobbying and lobbyists is that neither Washington
nor your State governments could get along without them. They are
an important source of information...as well as bias...for legislators.
Of course there is abuse and corruption everywhere in government.
But this should be proven in specific cases, and not assumed. I refer
here in part to the matter of Tom DeLay.
The Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty is again in the news, with
current efforts of the signatories to improve it. It is to the advantage
of no nuclear power to maintain the current levels of over-kill nuclear
stockpiles. And with regard to current non-nuclear countries, why
can't the world decide that - in return for free nuclear peacetime technology
- "if you build it...you lose it"? What's so hard about that?
More about Public Education and the "No Child Left Behind Act".
See the NYTimes article yesterday in Connecticut, Sec. 14, p1. Results
of recent testing are not surprising...and are miserable except in affluent
communities. Add this to the fact that Catholic and other private
schools are effective, ready and able to absorb many of these failing children
if parents are given the choice, through vouchers and other means.
The only thing standing in the way of this solution the NEA and the NFT,
to their continuing shame.
Go ahead...have a laugh on me.
SUNDAY, May 1, 2005
This is another session wherein I share some excellent articles that
appeared recently in the press.
Meanwhile, the Democratic demagoguery machine sputtered into action
even before President Bush had concluded his press conference this week.
All the news channels except ABC cut him off in order to get right to "analysis"...and
also to avoid losing any money on TV ratings. The Democrats are calling
the President's modest proposal to means-test some Social Security payments
"a change to another Welfare program"...a change from a Medicare-type program
to a Medicaid-type program". They really know how to hurt a guy.
On the vital importance of educating and training our youth for the challenges
of tomorrow...not yesterday: "Developing U.S. Talent Must Become Priority",
by Thomas Friedman, The Day, yeaterday, Commentary, pA7. To that
must be added a national program to re-train middle-aged and even elderly
workers whose talents have been devalued by "that great sucking sound"
The following all appeared this week in the WSJ. "Who's Afraid
of John Bolton"; "League of Democracies"; "Sue First, Teach Later"; "Advise
and Consign"; "Tyranny to Democracy"; and on the lighter side, "Singles
Therapy: Marriage Education That Starts Before You Even Find a Date".
This last one is especially timely, given today's story about the Georgia
peach who decided to stay unpicked.
After having criticized Paul Krugman for his take recently on the problems
in health care, now comes an informative article from him entitled "Health
Care": Spending Money To Argue, Not Heal", The Day (theday.com), Monday,
Adpril 25, 2005, Commentary, pA7.
"Alternative Plans For Social Security: How They Stack Up", The
Day, Sunday, April 10, 2005, Business, pF1.
A good, although one-sided, article on the national issue of Eminent Domain
and specifically on the case of Kelo vs City of New London, now
pending before the U.S. Supreme Court, appears in the May-June issue of
AARP entitled "Whose House Is It Anyway?", by Barry Yeoman, Home Front,
p66. Among the things that the author got right is the fact that
the troubles the NLDC found itself in during the process were partly self-inflicted
- early arrogant and impolitic approaches that did not help. Among
the things he got wrong was to leave out the accomplishments of the NLDC
in Fort Trumble even now, despite the years of litigation. The recent
annual report presented by David Goebel, Chief Operating Officer of NLDC,
tells the whole tale. I will try to reproduce that report in this
section within a few days. The other thing, I believe, that the author
neglected to understand is that...in a nation where the right of Eminent
Domain is definitely being abused, Kelo vs City of New London is
"right cause, wrong case", as I foresee the USSC outcome.