A MUST READ – Kevin Rennie: Judge Decides Disabled Kids Not Worth Teaching

Hartford Courant columnist, blogger, lawyer and former legislator, Kevin Rennie, has a MUST READ commentary piece in the Hartford Courant today about Judge Moukawsher’s outrageous and mean-spirited attack on Connecticut children who require special education services.

Reposted below, you can read and comment on Kevin Rennie’s piece at:   http://www.courant.com/opinion/op-ed/hc-op-rennie-ct-school-moukawsher-disabled-0918-20160915-column.html

Kevin Rennie writes;

Compassion has been declared unconstitutional by a Superior Court judge. Our leaders refuse to condemn his brutal assault on those with disabilities. Delusions rule as Connecticut enters an age of shame.

Thomas Moukawsher, a judge, Malloy appointee and former Democratic organization foot soldier, read his meandering, sloppy decision on public school funding on Sept. 7. Then, otherwise comprehending people seemed not to understand what they had heard. The plaintiffs, a coalition of municipalities and education organizations, had sued for billions in new state spending but did not get it. They nevertheless declared victory.

Disclosure: I knew Moukawsher well when he was a banking lobbyist, during his one term in the legislature and for several years after that. I have not spoken to him in nearly 20 years.

The organizations in the coalition have maintained an indecent silence on what the decision says about providing an education for 15 percent to 17 percent of public school students with special needs. The reader will struggle to find an island of thought in the decision’s sea of bilge, but there is one on the subject of people with disabilities: It is irrational and unconstitutional, Moukawsher declaimed from the bench, to continue to provide an eduction for many of them.

The 20th century taught us that when societies turn on people with disabilities, they often do not stop there. They inflict misery on others and everlasting shame on themselves. Connecticut must not join them in the darkness.

If you want to know what an attack on freedom under the rule of law looks like, peruse the education funding decision. Special education was not an issue the plaintiffs raised. The attorney general, defending the state, warned Moukawsher off the issue in a trial brief, but to no avail. Children with disabilities were in his sights and he fired away. Children with more than one disability receive particularly cruel attention.

Schools under this misbegotten decision will have no obligation to educate children with disabilities they deem to have “a minimal or no chance for education.” This insidious missile cannot go unanswered in the Constitution State. There are no specifics on how or which children with special needs are to be denied access to our schools. What we do know is that a judge with a dark, Trumpian view of humanity is abusing his authority and inviting broad violation of federal protections.

Harry Truman explained America’s greatness in a sentence: “We believe in the dignity of man.” Not in Connecticut if this social Darwinian decision is allowed to stand. Consider the implications. The law requires us to educate children who arrived here illegally. Most of us have no quarrel with that. Do we want, however, to live in a state where illegal immigrants are welcomed to our schools but the disabled are barred at the door?

The heroic Helen Keller observed, “The only thing worse than being blind is having sight but no vision.” That describes the Moukawsher decision. I mention Helen Keller because, when she was 19 months old, she lost her hearing and sight to what was probably meningitis. A teacher, Anne Sullivan, led Miss Keller out of the darkness with their unique system of spelling words with their hands.

Helen Keller with her multiple disabilities went on to graduate from Radcliffe College. Through her writing, advocacy and love of humanity, Miss Keller became one of the world’s most admired people. Our own Mark Twain, one of her most devoted admirers, said, “She is fellow to Caesar, Alexander, Napoleon, Homer, Shakespeare and the rest of the immortals.”

There would be no place for Helen Keller in Moukawsher’s Connecticut, other than in the shadows of isolation. The court opinion misses an essential benefit of special education that is bestowed on the other students. Their contact with students with disabilities provides daily lessons in Harry Truman’s dignity of man. Lessons that last a lifetime and lift our society.

It should not be too much to expect a judge to understand that. But Moukawsher’s poisonous elitism reveals him as bent on banishing thousands of disabled from our public education system and consigning them to undisclosed, likely isolated, locations. Is this anyone’s, other than one judge’s, idea of what 21st-century Connecticut should be?

Do I hear $170 a vote? Going Once, Going Twice, Sold to the man from Greenwich

Hartford Courant columnist and fellow blogger Kevin Rennie has reviewed candidate Luke Bronin’s campaign finance reports and has discovered another disturbing fact.

Not only has Greenwich native and political newcomer run the most expensive mayoral campaign in Connecticut history, but Bronin ended up paying a truly shocking amount of money for each vote he received in his successful effort to be crowned the Democratic Party’s nominee for Mayor of Hartford..

In a post entitled, Democrats Will Be Outraged: Bronin Spent $170 a Vote in Primary Win Over Segarra, Kevin Rennie writes;

Democrat Luke Bronin spent more $872,625 to garner 5,110 votes in his September 16th primary victory over incumbent Pedro Segarra in their race for mayor of one of the state’s poorest communities, according to campaign finance reports. That’s $170.76 a vote, a figure that will evoke howls of protest from the traditional voices of campaign spending restraint. Those voices were curiously muted as Bronin rolled over Segarra in their showdown.

Bronin’s last campaign finance report before the primary showed the Greenwich plutocrat spent $673,821.75. That reporting period included expenses from July 1st through September 7th. Bronin’s post-primary report shows an additional $198,804 in payments made up to and including primary day.  It includes more than 100 payments of $125 for primary day field work. The largest expense was a $53,224.77 payment for commercial broadcast time.

Rennie article, strengthened be a great complementary video, can be found on his blog at: http://www.dailyructions.com/democrats-will-be-outraged-bronin-spent-170-a-vote-in-primary-win-over-segarra/

Readers may remember that it was Kevin Rennie who broke the story about Luke Bronin’s wife, Sara Bronin, having used her state employee account in support of Bronin’s campaign for Mayor.  (See: Sara Bronin Has a Primary Request–and Sent It From Her UConn Email Account.  Followed by Wait What?’s Luke & Sara Bronin and the “Laws are only for the Little People” Crowd)

It is unclear whether the State Auditors have begun an investigation into Sarah Bronin’s illegal use of her email account, but in the past state employees have lost their jobs or been put on lengthy periods of unpaid leave for using their state email accounts for political activities.

 

Founders Left Lesson For Evasive Politicians (By Kevin Rennie)

My July 4th Wait, What? Post was entitled When Democracy is seen as a danger….

Turns out Kevin Rennie, the Hartford Courant columnist was tackling a somewhat similar topic in his latest article.

In his weekend column, Rennie writes,

If you have not already this holiday weekend, take a few minutes to read the Declaration of Independence that those brave delegates to the Second Continental Congress adopted on pain of death 238 years ago. Its stirring opening, “When in the course of human events,” rings through the ages.

That Thomas Jefferson knew how to turn a phrase, and he did it throughout the document. He set forth the new American idea of the relationship between the governed and the governors. Then Jefferson listed the grievances of men seeking freedom from tyranny as the conflict moved to colonial battlefields.

King George III was not accustomed to this sort of language directed at him: “He has obstructed the administration of justice, by refusing his assent to laws for establishing judiciary powers. He has made judges dependent on his will alone, for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.

“He has erected a multitude of new offices, and sent hither swarms of officers to harass our people, and eat out their substance.”

There were no pale pastels in the Declaration of Independence. You will look in vain for evasions and indifference.

But as Rennie goes on to note,

In contrast, the race for governor of Connecticut, now four months from its conclusion, has so far failed to feature such a vivid display of facts and beliefs.

[…]

The most unambiguous moment of the campaign so far came in these pages a week ago when left-wing lobbyist and Malloy ally Betty Gallo denounced the efforts of former state Rep. Jonathan Pelto, D-Mansfield, to petition his way onto the ballot for governor. She urged readers to join her in not to signing his petitions.

Those petitions include Pelto’s running mate, Ebony Murphy of Hartford. I don’t know what Gallo’s beef is with Murphy, an African American Stamford native, teacher and daughter of a Teamster. I know that if a Republican tried to limit candidates’ access to the ballot there would be a Democratic outcry. It doesn’t seem much different when it’s a Democrat.

As Kevin Rennie suggests, take some time this weekend to read the Declaration of Independence, then read Rennie’s column and mine (When Democracy is seen as a danger…) and then get involved in this year’s gubernatorial election.

You can read Kevin Rennie’s entire column at: http://www.courant.com/news/opinion/op_ed/hc-op-rennie-founders-declaration-independence-070-20140703,0,2941410.column

On mythical state revenue and a Pelto candidacy for Governor

In a column entitled, Malloy Finds Revenue in Land of Pretend, Hartford Courant columnist Kevin Rennie explores the “make believe” budget that passed the Connecticut General Assembly last week and the potential impact my possible candidacy for governor.

Kevin Rennie, a lawyer and a former Republican state legislator, is one of the most read and respected political commentators in Connecticut.

He begins his latest piece by observing,

The age of the Connecticut state employee suggestion box has ended. That was the notorious device Gov. Dannel P. Malloy used to balance a nearly $200 million gap budget gap in 2011. No one ever explained what the valuable suggestions were.

With revenues tumbling from Malloy’s February budget and re-election campaign speech, the governor’s $500 million surplus disappeared and was hovering over red ink. He had to find a budget-balancing gimmick that didn’t include breaking out the elusive suggestion box, so a $75 million tax reclamation mission appeared from the Department of Revenue Services. None of the usual nonpartisan analysts could verify it, but the state’s legislative Democrats clicked their heels three times and decided to believe.

In addition to highlighting some of the fiscally irresponsible elements of the new state budget, Rennie also assesses the impact of a third party run for governor.

Rennie writes,

Enter Democratic political operative and former state Rep. Jonathan Pelto of Storrs, Pelto, whom I’ve known for many years, has in recent years combined his knowledge of political campaigns with an intense interest in public education policy. He knows his way around Democratic interest groups and enjoys a close relationship with some leaders at a variety of levels.

Pelto became more deeply involved with public school teachers and other education advocates during Malloy’s 2012 assault on the teaching profession. Many teachers still wince at Malloy’s claim that to gain tenure all a teacher has to do is show up for at school for a few years. Expect to hear that repeated often in the next six months.

[…]

Connecticut has a history of giving large numbers of votes to candidates outside the two major parties. From Bridgeport Socialist Jasper McLevy in 1938 through Sen. Joseph Lieberman in 2006, Connecticut voters have shown a taste for candidates running outside the usual two-party competition. In 1994, former Republican state Sen. Tom Scott made an independent bid for governor that netted him 130,000 votes with the benefit of little money.

You can read Kevin Rennie’s complete column at: http://www.courant.com/news/opinion/op_ed/hc-op-rennie-malloy-finds-revenue-in-land-of-prete-20140508,0,7855532.column