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Lamont doubled down on opening schools – but says the state won’t enforce it

Gov. Ned Lamont leads his Thursday press conference regarding COVID-19.

HARTFORD, Conn. — Gov. Ned Lamont continued to walk back state authority over whether schools will reopen this fall, saying Thursday that he wants all schools to reopen for in-person learning, and superintendents that refuse will be subject to “a really forceful discussion.”

But in the end, he’s leaving the decision local.

“Can I force that school to open? Can I force those teachers in there? You know, probably not,” Lamont said. Continue reading Lamont doubled down on opening schools – but says the state won’t enforce it

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NPS rejiggers reopening plan

Norwalk Superintendent of Schools Alexandra Estrella presents a rethought reopening plan for Norwalk Public Schools, during a Wednesday evening Town Hall.

NORWALK, Conn. – Half of Norwalk’s school children will attend classes at a time this fall, under a revised Norwalk Public Schools reopening plan.

“We would have only 50 percent of the student population that is, was expected to be in a classroom in the room. If a class had 24 students in normal conditions in this case, we would have nine to 12 students on average, depending on the square footage of the space and what that space allow us to do,” Norwalk Superintendent of Schools Alexandra Estrella said Wednesday.

For parents that have been paying attention, this new plan is to combine the “yellow” plan with the “orange” plan into a hybrid. Families can still opt out and go with fully remote learning if they wish, and every family is urged to fill out a registration form by Aug. 7. Continue reading NPS rejiggers reopening plan

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Norwalk Mayor ‘disgusted’ by firefighter’s anti-Semitic comments; Council President ‘disturbed’

Norwalk Fire Department Lt. Pat St. Onge, center, participates in a 2017 swearing in ceremony. (File photo)

NORWALK, Conn. — Norwalk is working with the Anti-Defamation League to address anti-Semitism in the community, Mayor Harry Rilling said Wednesday.

Rilling’s comments came one day after Norwalk Fire Chief Gino Gatto informed NancyOnNorwalk that one of his lieutenants, Pat. St. Onge, had been suspended for a week after telling a Jewish underling that Jewish people are “dirty.”

“Hatred, prejudice, and antisemitism have no place in Norwalk or anywhere else. The comments made by Lt. St. Onge do not reflect the values and beliefs of our community or of the Norwalk Fire Department. His comments were ignorant and hurtful and unacceptable. I was disgusted by them,” Rilling said in a statement. Continue reading Norwalk Mayor ‘disgusted’ by firefighter’s anti-Semitic comments; Council President ‘disturbed’

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Norwalk Fire Department Lieutenant suspended after anti-Semitic comments

Norwalk Fire Department Lt. Pat St. Onge has been suspended from July 27 through July 31, Fire Chief Gino Gatto said.

NORWALK, Conn. — A Norwalk firefighter is currently suspended from duty for one week without pay due to anti-Semitic comments.

On July 3, Lt. Pat St. Onge turned to a Jewish firefighter under his command and said Jewish people are dirty. St. Onge has apologized and quotes himself as saying to coworkers, “Hasidic Jews aren’t known for their hygiene.” Continue reading Norwalk Fire Department Lieutenant suspended after anti-Semitic comments

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Every vote matters

Former State Rep. Fred Wilms (R-142).

Every vote matters. That is the lesson from the recent Connecticut State House passage of the Police reform bill that limits the Qualified Immunity of Norwalk and New Canaan police officers.

Limiting Qualified Immunity for police officers makes them vulnerable to frivolous litigation, discourages recruiting and makes retaining top talent more difficult. Our towns could be subject to increased litigation costs.  Norwalk and New Canaan residents face the risk of increased crime rates and higher property taxes. This is not about protecting bad cops. However good cops may now become collateral damage.   Continue reading Every vote matters

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Connecticut’s coffers have swelled — not shrunk — during COVID

(CTMirror.org)

HARTFORD, Conn. — State government’s coffers have swelled by hundreds of millions of dollars since the coronavirus struck in mid-March, despite warnings of a nearly $1 billion deficit just three months ago.

Connecticut’s rainy day fund, which stood at $2.5 billion when the pandemic struck, now approaches $2.8 billion, according to an ongoing review of thousands of state tax returns filed after July 15. Continue reading Connecticut’s coffers have swelled — not shrunk — during COVID

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Connecticut leaves it to local districts whether to reopen schools full-time

Students and recent graduates from West Haven High School share their thoughts about school reopening in the fall with Governor Ned Lamont and State Department of Education Commissioner Miguel Cardona on Friday, July 24 at West Haven High School. (Yehyun Kim, CTMirror.org)

HARTFORD, Conn. — Gov. Ned Lamont said Monday the state will not dictate the opening date of the school year or how instruction will be offered, leaving to local school systems a choice of classroom instruction, distant learning or a mix of the two.

To do this, Lamont said he will probably need to extend the COVID-19 public health emergency beyond the current Sept. 9 expiration date to give local schools the necessary flexibility to offer something other than in-person instruction. Continue reading Connecticut leaves it to local districts whether to reopen schools full-time

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Additional cost to reopen CT schools during a pandemic: $420 million

(CTMirror.org)

Whether schools open for in-person instruction or remote learning during this pandemic, the additional costs are pegged at $420 million.

A recent survey of superintendents by the state Department of Education found that installing plexiglass, and providing every student and school employee with enough face masks and cleaning supplies is expected to cost $59 million this coming school year. Continue reading Additional cost to reopen CT schools during a pandemic: $420 million

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Socially distanced Senate passes no-excuse absentee ballot bill

Sen. Will Haskell, D-Westport, speaks for the absentee ballot bill on Tuesday, July 28 at State Capitol. (Yehyun Kim, CTMirror.org)

HARTFORD, Conn. — Meeting for the first time since COVID-19 forced the closure of the State Capitol in March, the Connecticut Senate voted  35-1 Tuesday for final passage of legislation allowing no-excuse absentee ballot voting as a public health precaution in November. Continue reading Socially distanced Senate passes no-excuse absentee ballot bill

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Seen but not necessarily heard: A Norwalk BoE retreat held during a pandemic

A YouTube video of Thursday’s Norwalk Board of Education retreat.

NORWALK, Conn. — More people than ever have seen the Norwalk Board of Education in action at its annual Board retreat. On the other hand, only the people who were there are fully aware of what was said.

The Board held its annual retreat despite COVID-19 concerns, using a hybrid model similar to what’s planned for the schools reopening: Any member who wanted to could attend in person, wearing a mask and keeping a social distance. Nonparticipants were not allowed in but could watch on YouTube.

There’s good news: while previous retreats attracted seven or eight audience members at best, the videos had up to 124 views as of Monday night. On the other hand, the audio on most of the sessions was challenging and at times indecipherable. And if you checked in when the meeting was scheduled to begin, you were frustrated, wondering when and if a video would be posted. Continue reading Seen but not necessarily heard: A Norwalk BoE retreat held during a pandemic

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Norwalk questioning ‘integrity’ of NFD firefighter testing process

The Norwalk Fire Department conducts a promotion and swearing in ceremony in 2018, in NFD headquarters. (Archive photo)

NORWALK, Conn. —An investigation is being conducted into the integrity of the latest Norwalk Fire Department testing process for new firefighters.
Director of Personnel and Labor Relations Ray Burney confirmed there were issues with the test but declined to provide details. Continue reading Norwalk questioning ‘integrity’ of NFD firefighter testing process

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Norwalk BoE’s tech problems prompt comment: There ought to be a law

A YouTube video of Thursday’s Norwalk Board of Education retreat. At left is BoE member Sherelle Harris, reacting to feedback from the PA

NORWALK, Conn. — Board of Education retreats are “tricky” even without COVID-19 as a challenge, Freedom of Information (FOI) Commission public information officer Tom Hennick said Monday.

“Some boards believe they are private. They are, of course, not. So, boards must notice them, and the general public must have access if it chooses,” he wrote.

So if “access” is provided but the public can’t fully hear what’s being said, did the Board of Education meet its FOI responsibilities? Continue reading Norwalk BoE’s tech problems prompt comment: There ought to be a law

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Where’s Chris Perone?

Send signed letters to [email protected]

Where’s Chris Perone?

The Connecticut Legislature was called into session this week to confront the important issues of Absentee Voting and Police Accountability. Representative Perone was there for them to vote on voting, but on the matter of Police Accountability he was absent.

Norwalk Police deserve a voice in Hartford that recognizes their contributions to our community.  Continue reading Where’s Chris Perone?

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