Welcome to the newsletter of the Sherman Democratic Town Committee, particularly to our new subscribers. Our goal is to share with local Democrats news and resources to help us stay involved for positive change on a state and local level. We are committed to working for and with the citizens of Sherman to promote issues, initiatives, and candidates that will make Sherman a better place to live and work.
2019 Sherman House and Garden Tour
URGENT: Need for tour destinations.
Please send any ideas and suggestions for homes or gardens that might be added to our tour, to firstname.lastname@example.org
Saturday September 21, 10 am – 1 pm
This self-guided tour affords one-day-only access to several of the region’s most magnificent private residences and their gardens. Ticket holders will receive a program that describes what to expect at each home, along with addresses. In past years, the Sherman House & Garden Tour has featured lakeside estates, historically significant homes, working farms and horse properties, and Sherman’s most architecturally stunning abodes.
A party with refreshments will take place after the tour.
The Sherman House & Garden Tour is sponsored by the Sherman Democratic Town Committee. A portion of the proceeds are donated to the Guido Tino Scholarship Fund.
Tickets will be available at local retailers later this summer.
From Our First Selectman to our Readers
Whew….where has the time gone! These first 18 months blew by and it will already be election time in 4 months. I will be running again and there’s a lot of good stuff to run on. This second year of being First Selectman has been particularly busy and a lot has been accomplished.
I promised all through my campaign to lead a fiscally responsible effort and that’s been accomplished. This year we actually lowered taxes by 2.5% without cutting services and still added extra dollars to our capital fund. (The previous year we kept the budget flat.)
In response to the high salts and chlorides that’s been in the town’s well water, we continue to make progress on putting potable water from Town wells into Town buildings. Through research and action we are going to achieve it this year.
Just this last week we installed an air monitor to measure baseline air quality in preparation of the Cricket Valley Power Plant starting up. After the plant opens for business, we will continue measuring and make a comparison to see if our Sherman air quality is adversely affected.
Throughout my term I have tried as hard as I possibly can to be responsive to the day-to-day needs of our citizens. Along the way, I have directed traffic, weed whacked grass for better sight-lines, hauled dead animals out of yards and driveways, and even chased cows a couple of times. Our Town entities are better coordinated now, our Town employees are working well together, and it all makes for more efficient and effective services for our citizens. In addition, many people have remarked to me that they appreciate the town having a less “political” feel to it. If I helped in any of that good vibe, then I am pleased. Through NIXLE and social media I have done my best to communicate emergencies and other sudden public announcements concerning the health and well-being of Sherman residents. Not only has our Housing Commission been reinvigorated, but other boards and commissions are robust with wonderful volunteers who donate their valuable time to make Sherman the wonderful place it is to live.
I have continued to try and find ways to better serve the Sherman Senior citizens by increasing the budget for them and also by trying to find a new space for the Senior Center. But this remains a challenge. Another challenge will be to re-imagine Happy Acres Farm. I have already put the wheels into action on that and by the fall there should be a tangible plan on how to go forward. In the meantime, we are painting both the house and barn, and making essential repairs on the barn.
All of the accomplishments that I have listed are the result of teamwork with Sherman citizens of all parties, ages, and social structures involved. If there’s one thing that I can truly lay claim to is that I am pretty good at getting folks to work together for the good of the Town. This job has been the honor of my life!
|The Newsletter Interviews State Senator Kushner
Just one year ago, the Newsletter pointed out the significance of the November 2018 election. The deadlock in the State Senate had blocked significant action on many important issues and our then-State Senator, Michael McLaughlin, had voted against such initiatives as the Family Leave Bill and an increase in the State minimum wage.
How times have changed!
Just after the close of the 2020 legislative session, the Newsletter interviewed our new State Senator, Democrat Julie Kushner. Kushner told us of her experiences in the new Democratic-majority State Senate.
Much was Accomplished.
“We got so much done,” Julie exulted. For starters, the Legislature passed and the Governor signed her signature issue, the nation’s most generous family leave policy. As Chair of the Senate’s Labor & Public Employees Committee, Julie took the lead in shepherding the bill through the legislature and getting the Governor’s approval. The act gives workers twelve weeks of paid leave (at 95 percent of their pay, up to $900 a week) to care for a newborn or a newly adopted baby or to deal with an illness in a loved one.
Julie also played a central role in passing an increase in the Minimum Wage. The new law increases the minimum wage in Connecticut from its current $10.10 per hour to $15.00 per hour. This fall the rate will go to $11.00 per hour. Then, in a series of steps, it will rise to $15.00 in June 2023. Thereafter, the state minimum wage will be pegged to the U.S. Department of Labor’s employment cost index to take future inflation into account. The Connecticut Department of Labor estimates that these increases will raise wages for approximately 130,000 Connecticut workers this year and more than half a million by 2024.
Julie also expressed pride in two other sets of laws. The “Trust Act” prohibits Connecticut law enforcement from turning over undocumented immigrants to federal immigration officials unless Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has obtained a warrant signed by a judge, the person is guilty of a serious felony, or the person is on a terrorist watch list. And the legislature passed three new gun laws: “Ethan’s Law” requires both loaded and unloaded firearms to be safely stored in homes where there are minors under age 18. Another law prohibits storing a pistol in an unattended vehicle unless it is in a locked glove box, or a locked safe. A third prohibits the manufacture of “ghost guns,” guns created (sometimes using 3-D printers) without a serial number and plastic guns that can pass through security measures.
Despite the legislative session being remarkably successful, Julie lamented the failure to act on health care issues. The “Connecticut Option” would have created a public health insurance option for small businesses and non-profits, provided for additional subsidies for low- and middle-income residents, beyond those authorized by the Affordable Care Act. It collapsed in the face of heavy opposition from the private health insurance companies, including CIGNA, who reportedly threatened to leave the state if the bill was passed, costing thousands of jobs. This, despite the fact that CIGNA has received millions of dollars in State of Connecticut grants and state and local tax credits for creating jobs, while continuing to shrink the size of its Connecticut workforce, and despite the fact that CIGNA has stopped selling coverage directly to individuals and families in the state, while earning $21.5 billion in profits over the last ten years. “We shouldn’t have to choose between helping hundreds of thousands of Connecticut citizens and protecting jobs,” said Julie.
Julie was also disappointed by the lack of progress on moving towards a more progressive tax structure. “There is not enough revenue to address the big issues Connecticut faces,” said Julie. “We need a focus on shifting taxes to the super wealthy, going forward.”
Many Constituencies Shape a Bill.
At a more personal level, Julie told us that she hadn’t anticipated how complicated it is to pass legislation. Her familiarity with contracts and negotiations and with labor conditions, gained through long years as a UAW official, helped her see her way through the complex process. But in labor negotiations, she noted, there are just two parties – the workers and the management. In passing a bill, there are many. A bill has to be formulated; details must be worked out with many individual members and caucuses in the legislature. The support of advocates has to be ensured; push-back from Republicans and hesitancy on the part of the Governor has to be resisted. Finally, the bill must be brought to the Senate. But “I like puzzles and challenges,” said Julie. “It’s exciting to be able to keep the pieces in place until it becomes a law.”
Her experience confirmed “what I have said for years,” Julie told us. “It’s not drafting the legislation that’s the big challenge, but having people advocating and building movements over many years. Large coalitions worked for years on family leave and on increasing the minimum wage. The passage of the bills would not have been possible without that.”
Looking towards 2021
Julie is already thinking about the next session of the legislature, which convenes in February 2020. The even-year sessions of the legislature can only consider non-budget items, but she is already thinking about how to work on health care and taxation. For instance, she hopes that a commission on progressive taxation can be formed, so as to lay the groundwork for action in 2021. Identifying coalitions to support action and finding potential allies are key.
Meanwhile, her schedule of events were filled through June. And then a long-awaited vacation!
|Days above 90 degrees: from 10 to 40?
Heat Buckled Highway
Increases in potentially lethal heat driven by climate change will affect every state, including Connecticut, in the decades ahead, according to a July 16, 2019 report by the Union of Concerned Scientists.
The report found that historically, Connecticut has averaged about 10 days per year with a heat index above 90 degrees Fahrenheit. That would increase to 40 days per year on average by 2050 if no action is taken to reduce heat-trapping emissions. The days with a heat index above 100 degrees Fahrenheit would increase to 13 per year on average and CT’s larger cities would experience the highest frequency of these days.The heat index is what we feel the temperature to be when we factor in relative humidity.
Heat cramps, caused by the loss of body salts and fluids during sweating, can be painful. Heat exhaustion is how the body responds to loss of water and fluids from heavy sweating. Symptoms include headaches, nausea, dizziness, weakness, thirst, and heavy sweating. The most serious is heat stroke, which happens when the body gets so hot it cannot regulate its core temperature. People going into a heat stroke stop sweating, so their bodies cannot get rid of the excess heat, Chart below is from *1 and indicates four heat index ranges with their corresponding physiological problems.
On Saturday, July 20th, Danbury reported a record high heat index of 105 degrees.
Tracy Babbidge, who works in the air control division of the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (DEEP), said the study serves as a “good reminder for us to review that we are doing everything we can and should be doing to deal with the issues of climate change and reducing emissions.” Current climate change is mostly caused by the fossil fuel emissions that increase atmospheric concentration of carbon dioxide. Note that “Climate is what you expect. Weather is what you get.”
Babbidge said that Connecticut is enrolled in the Global Warming Solutions Act, which many refer to as Connecticut’s central climate commitment. It requires the state to reduce its total greenhouse gas emissions to at least 10% below 1990 levels by 2020, and to at least 80% below 2001 levels by 2050.
The number of high heat-index days was calculated by averaging projections from 18 high-resolution climate models between April and October. The report looked at these conditions for three possible futures.
The “no action scenario” assumes carbon emissions continue to rise and the global average temperature increases nearly 8 degrees Fahrenheit above pre-industrial levels by century’s end.
The “slow action scenario” assumes carbon emissions start declining at mid century and the global average temperature rises 4.3 degrees Fahrenheit by century’s end. In the “rapid action scenario,” global average warming is limited to 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit — in line with the Paris Agreement.
The report states if the goals of the Paris Climate Agreement is met and future global average warming is limited to 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit, by late century the United States would see half the number of days per year, on average, with a heat index above 105 degrees Fahrenheit, and almost 115 million fewer people would experience the equivalent of a week or more of “off-the-charts” heat days.
Connecticut is a member of the U.S. Climate Alliance, a bipartisan coalition of governors committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions consistent with the goals of the Paris Climate Agreement.
On June 1, 2017, President Donald Trump declared his intention to pull the United States out of the Paris Climate Agreement. The U.S. can’t exit the agreement until Nov. 2020, the day after the next presidential election.
|Upcoming Sherman Events
Sherman Dems Monthly Meeting
Wednesday, July 24th, 2019, 7:30 pm
Sherman Senior Center
8 CT-37, Sherman
Sherman Board of Selectman Meeting
Thursday, July 25th, 2019, 7:00 pm – 9:00 pm
Mallory Town Hall Meeting Room
9 Rt 39 North, Sherman
To see the town calendar, click here
2019 Sherman House and Garden Tour
Saturday September 21, 2019 10:00 am – 1:00 pm
Donate to the SDTC http://www.shermandems.org/donate/
Sherman Democratic Town Committee Facebook
We are an organization of inclusion, not exclusion. We have a longstanding history of attracting both Democratic and unaffiliated voters and endorsing both Democratic and unaffiliated candidates. We work to represent the wide variety of Sherman citizens who hold many different viewpoints and opinions.
Paid for by the Sherman Democratic Town Committee, Bob Gamper Treasurer