August 27, 2021
In This Issue:
From Paddi's Desk
CT Agency Corner
Municipal Roundup
From Inside The Golden Dome
This Day in CT History
This Week Surely Wasn't a Good One Whether you were in Connecticut, or Across the Globe

Tensions both globally, and at the federal, state and local level have ratcheted up this week. It makes one believe the world is a bit off kilter.

Across the world, hearts are saddened by the unraveling of our national reputation for protecting those most in need against cruel, inhuman and egregious rule. The events, as they are unraveling, make for a movie, not a real life situation. One of our sons is serving in the marines at the pentagon and while he can’t share the true nature of his work, it has not been a good several weeks, and he’s not sure if the next several weeks will be any better. All we can do is hope that the generals will step in and wrestle control of the situation form the politicians and make good on protecting our own, our allies and those who risk it all in the name of peace and democracy.

Back in Washington, it seems as if federal sumo wrestling has turned to arm wrestling as the legislators have taken their gripes to the halls of Congress, rather than the street. As Congress keeps a close eye on the unfolding global situation, the house is wiring through the differences of opinions on how to make the country work for all the people. 

Connecticut has been quiet inside the halls of government, but the government did face quite the challenge this week. Between preparing for a potential weather crisis, and the actual weakened storm, many felt by Tuesday that it had been a long week. After the weather was settled, the governor and local leaders returned their focus to the "back to school" season. Parents and students flooded the stores, procuring back to school supplies, buying school clothes, and familiarizing themselves with pandemic-related school policies. While local leaders were given the responsibility to decide what was the right path of safety for their towns and cities. The governor announced a return to masking for all schools across the state as the infection rate jumped to April 2021. To say many were not happy is an understatement. 

This past week saw tense. and often scary public meetings at the local school board level. Some of these meetings featured participation from legislative leaders, and even the Governor and Lieutenant Governor, who were dragged into a wildly personal protest by dissatisfied people. The Governor was shouted down, sworn at and eventually escorted out of a building of passionate but ill advised protestors during a visit to Cheshire's school board meeting. While the governor attempted to diffuse the situation at the school, Cheshire's superintendent of schools jumped in and cut the meeting short.

 Across the state, Lieutenant Governor Bysiewicz faced another example of passion getting ahead of respectfulness. As she was about to lead a recognition program for a deserving group of Vietnam veterans, the ceremony was disrupted by a man who was not happy with the status of the current mandates. The Lieutenant Governor, in her unflappable, manner took the reins and talked the man down by letting him know that once the ceremony had finished, he would be able to address the gathering. She was calm cool and firm about the need for him to take a seat and as she explained what was going to happen, a local police officer approached the man and explained that the man needed to be seated immediately, or be escorted out. He sat down, and the program went on with little turmoil. After the ceremony ended the man was given his opportunity to speak, which he did. He left subsequently

Many elected officials are talking about how the tenor of discussion has turned confrontational and that the lack of decorum and respect for others is not healthy. With turmoil across the world, in Washington, Hartford and local communities, we all need to be concerned with how we react and express our opinions and feelings. While the mantra of "we’re all in this together" sounds great, I’m not sure many people are feeling much togetherness.

Crossing the divide will be the biggest challenge for elected officials as they too get back to school and begin to tackle issues other than battles across the world, power control in our national Capitol, employment concerns in Connecticut and the upcoming local elections.

November 2021 local elections might be somewhat of a free for all depending on where the temperature of voters land in another two and a half months. The outdoor temperature may fall, but we’ll have to wait and see where the temperature of Connecticut voters lands.
Is an Extension of the State of Emergency an “if” or “when”?

Admittedly, there was some degree of skepticism the last time Democrats in the House and Senate urged the extension of Governor Lamont’s executive powers through September 30th. Vaccination goals were being surpassed beyond expectations and the CDC had recently lifted the mask mandate for those who were fully vaccinated in all public places. Society had seemed to turn the corner (as rough as it was) and many were wondering if it was an overreach to have the Executive Branch implement policies without the discretion of the Legislative Branch.

Those sentiments felt less than three months ago have certainly changed when looking at the most recent numbers: Hospitalizations are back in the 300s, an infection rate that’s approximately 3.8% (remarkably higher than this point last year when no vaccines were available but mask mandates were in place) and a death rate that’s at its highest rate since early May.

It’s difficult to look at these statistics and think that the state of emergency will not be extended beyond September 30th when also considering that flu season is also a month away and other variants such as the “lambda” variant currently in the south and west coast could be making their way to CT soon.

The “delta” variant has certainly moved the goal-posts in the fight to return to normalcy, but there are some very strong positive signs to make the case for a measured approach to ensuring public health without the need of a state of emergency to be in place: The state and private companies, in addition to colleges and universities, have begun to require vaccines and schools have moved forward with mandating masks for this school year.

The question of the state of emergency rests on the possibility of the legal authority to continue the functions of government that have been seamless during the pandemic and whether there will be legal challenges attached to the vaccine and mask rules currently being implemented. Either way, the availability of boosters coming on September 20th and high vaccine rates will be important in keeping vulnerable populations safe, and attempting to bring more economic development to businesses in CT.
It’s back to school time for students in CT, and during this pandemic, that comes with many questions and certainly a number of detractors. Many districts are facing the decision whether or not to require vaccinations for teachers and staff at public schools. Some have implemented this requirement already. Other questions arise relating to school lunch, cohorts or pods, allowing for optional distance learning and what seems to be the most controversial issue these days: whether to require masks for students in school. The State answered the last question with a requirement that all school reopening plans will be required to include a mask mandate for students in school. This has not been sitting well with a well organized group called “Unmask our Kids.” The issue came to a head in Cheshire this week during a round table discussion about the reopening plan in public schools. Governor Lamont and commissioners were there to take part in the round table along with local leaders and legislators. Protestors began shouting during the discussion and the leaders decided that the meeting was unproductive and ended the meeting. When Governor Lamont and other leaders attempted to leave the meeting the protestors continued shouting. The pandemic has certainly has been tough on many parents, including parents here at S&L, but I think we can all agree that we must maintain civil discourse in our objections, right, wrong or indifferent.  


Tesla Takes on Car Dealers over Embattled East Hartford Service Center Proposal

This past session, SB 127 was passed out of the transportation committee after a controversial vote, with 5 of the committee's 23 democrats voting against the bill. SB 127 would have allowed electric vehicle manufacturers such as Tesla to sell their electric vehicles directly to consumers, bypassing the state's dealership model. Currently, car manufacturers are required by law to sell their new cars through a dealership. Dealership owners testified against SB 127, claiming that dealers are essential for enforcing lemon laws, servicing recalls, and ensuring fair access to lending options, as well as providing local access to parts and repair. They argued that this bill would have created an unlevel playing field between dealerships and electric car manufacturers, which could jeopardize their businesses, as well as the thousands of employees who work at dealerships in Connecticut. Multiple dealerships testified in support of a compromise, where they would be willing to sell electric vehicles through their dealerships. However, a separate model for EV dealers was out of the question.

A senior policy advisor at Tesla testified in support of the bill, stating that it would promote the sale of environmentally friendly electric vehicles, and would prevent the state from losing out on revenue from electric vehicle sales, as currently, residents must cross the border into New York and Massachusetts to purchase a Tesla

In the end, the bill never received a vote in either chamber, and died on June 9th, the day session ended. This leaves a precarious situation in East Hartford, where Tesla is applying for a permit to build a service center for their vehicles. Hoffman Auto Group is suing Tesla over their applications to the town of East Hartford. According to Hoffman, "the applications obscure the applicant's actual intent of using the facility to sell new and used cars in violation of state law and town zoning restrictions." Hoffman claims that although the application depicts a service facility, the site plan includes drawings for the delivery and indoor storage of new and pre-owned automobiles. Town officials approved the application last week, with the caveat that it may be revoked if it comes to light that the application contained false/incomplete information.

It should be interesting to see how this feud plays out, and how it affects the ongoing policy discussions over the sale of electric vehicles in Connecticut.
August 27th, 1942: "Substance X" Leads to the Nation's First Chemotherapy Treatment

Today in 1942, following top-secret research on the effects of the war-poison mustard gas, physicians at Yale University made medical history as they administered the first use of intravenous chemotherapy as a cancer treatment in the United States. This medical milestone was the culmination of experiments aimed at defending against the horrors of mustard gas conducted by a handful of Yale doctors for the U.S. military during World War I and World War II.

In doing their research on mice, scientists realized the mustard gas that had been so devastating in World War I trenches had cytotoxic –- that is, cell-destroying -– effects that could make it a powerful anti-cancer therapy, especially for patients with cancers involving the lymph nodes.

For security reasons and to avoid bad publicity they were not allowed to use words like “mustard gas” when talking about their work, so these experimental drugs were disguised in letters and medical records with vague names like “substance X.”

What they needed was a way to find out if these drugs–– which had at that point only been tested on rabbits – would work for human patients.

In 1941, a patient known to history only as “J.D.” was admitted to Yale Medical Center in New Haven with a severe case of lymphosarcoma and began undergoing standard cancer treatments, which then consisted of surgical removal and radiation therapy. While the patient initially showed signs of improvement, the cancer quickly staged an aggressive comeback. When J.D. was readmitted in August of the following year, he could barely move his head owing to the size of his tumors.

With a grim prognosis, the 47-year-old J.D. agreed to undergo a new, experimental treatment, that would test the Yale researchers’ new chemical therapy.

On August 27, 1942, Yale physicians began the first chemotherapy regimen for a cancer patient in the United States. J.D. received ten injections of the “lymphocidal chemical” derived from mustard gas, and by the end of the month, he told his doctors that he felt cautiously better –– he had been able to sleep more than usual, and even eat a little. His cancer soon returned, however, and though the chemotherapy treatments helped extend his life by almost three months, J.D. died in December 1942.

Because his medical records were made anonymous and the drugs he was treated with were labeled with vague nicknames, no one knew much about J.D. and his role in creating modern cancer science for years. But in 2011, Yale doctors John Fenn and Robert Udelsman located his chart and uncovered new details about both J.D. and his treatment. An unmarried man in his late forties at the time of treatment, J.D. was born in 1894 in Poland, and immigrated to the United States when he was 18. He settled in Meriden, and worked at a ball bearing factory from 1924 until he became sick in 1940.

“It was all there,” said Fenn, clinical professor of surgery at Yale School of Medicine. “In one patient, there was the revelation that cancer would respond to chemical injections, and that chemotherapy also had potentially lethal implications in the depression of bone marrow.”

Today, chemotherapy is one of the most universally-prescribed treatments for cancer around the world. A life-saving breakthrough that led to the birth of modern medical oncology, hidden under a cloud of secrecy for decades, took place in New Haven today in Connecticut history.



The full article from the CT Humanities Council can be found here.
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