WestportNow welcomes letters from readers on matters pertaining to Westport and Westporters. Those of 300 words or less are given preference. Letters are edited for grammar, clarity, and accuracy. Publication shall be at the sole discretion of WestportNow. Third-party or anonymous letters, those signed with a pseudonym, or letters appearing in other publications are not published. WestportNow does not publish letters endorsing or opposing any political candidates.
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We, the staff at WestportNow.com, received the following letter from State Rep. Jonathan Steinberg. In deep appreciation, we are publishing it to share it with our WestportNow.com readers.
I’ve been thinking about Gordon over the past several days. He was a great Westporter in many ways, but also played a role on the world stage as a reporter and bureau chief. To me, he was the consummate observer—an ideal profile for a reporter in the thick of world events. But that laidback, seemingly impassive style presented an interesting counterpoint to most of us more impassioned politicians.
Westport town employees, volunteers, and friends gathered in the Westport Town Hall lobby on Nov. 13, 2013 to honor outgoing First Selectman Gordon Joseloff, Selectman Shelly Kassen, and Charles Haberstroh. State Reps. Jonathan Steinberg and Gail Lavielle presented Joseloff with a General Assembly citation honoring his eight years of service. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Helen Klisser During for WestportNow.com
Given his several significant career chapters, one could describe Gordon as a Man of Many Faces. The irony is that, whatever the role in which he was serving, it was often hard to read that face! I’m sure it frustrated many supplicants, whether during his tenure as RTM Moderator or as First Selectman, that it was near impossible to get a rise out of him. His steadiness, particularly during the Great Recession, kept our town on an even keel and focused debate on the merits, not the personalities.
I first got to know Gordon when I was first elected to the RTM in 2003. Frankly, I was in awe of the long-time Moderator. New to elective politics at the time, I was uneasy about engaging him to discuss committee assignments. I soon realized that the cool exterior and soft voice reflected a gentleness and empathy often in short supply among elected leaders. Although we didn’t always agree on everything, it was easy to take him at his word and trust that he’d do as he said he would.
That’s a great quality that served his community well, and continued during his eight years as our First Selectman. Some would focus on the contentiousness of those times, driven by budget deficits and arguments about fiscal austerity measures. But you’d have to look really hard to notice any anger on Gordon’s side. The old line about “keeping your head while others are losing theirs” allowed him to tamp down the rhetoric during trying times.
I’m 22 years old, so I have the blessing of [feeling] like I know everything. But one thing I wish I truly knew is how Westport once was.
I’ve heard the stories of a Main Street filled with people and locally owned shops — the infamous pink book store at the end, or the hometown art supply store, or eclectic record shop. I hear stories and see pictures of these landmarks, but most importantly, I hear about the people who ran them.
I’ve heard about the kids playing with friends after school (when a fortnite referred to a time period), families spending the whole days together without any phones, and neighbors being neighbors — sitting outside and chatting about everything, and some days, nothing at all.
So I have to imagine that if this pandemic has given me anything (other than a sense of impending doom and the appreciation for good sourdough) — it’s the feeling that I have seen a glimpse of what Westport once was.
Editor’s Note: WestportNow rarely publishes letters to third parties, but makes an exception for this one from the Staples football captains to state representatives:
Dear Westport Town Representatives:
As the 2020 captains of the Staples High School football team, we are asking you to appeal directly to Governor Lamont for the reinstatement of 11 v 11 tackle football this fall.
We specifically request that Governor Lamont have the Department of Public Health and CIAC collaborate in the creation of a plan incorporating appropriate protocols that will permit live games safely this fall.
The decision to cancel high school football has already negatively impacted the close to 10,000 Connecticut students who have the privilege to play high school football. We ask that you consider the long-term emotional, mental and physical risks to these students if football is not played, especially in light of the State’s extremely low transmission rate.
I am writing to urge that the telehealth bill be passed by our legislature during the upcoming special session. For most before COVID-19, doctor appointments were accessible and easily scheduled. However, in our new reality many of our most vulnerable citizens will have to jeopardize their safety to attain the baseline level of care.
For those in rural areas, it is even harder. Litchfield, Tolland, and Windham, three of Connecticut’s most rural counties, rank the lowest in patient-to-doctor ratios. Furthermore, 35% of survey respondents in Windham said that lack of transportation caused them to miss at least one healthcare appointment.
Fortunately, Governor Lamont’s executive order has jump-started the process for the legislature by expanding access to telehealth since early March. However, this order will expire in September, leaving many with little to no safe options for seeing their doctors.
It is imperative that our legislature institute a permanent, continued version of telehealth at least until June of 2021. Establishing widespread telehealth will not only take the burden off of those that are at risk for COVID, but also develop a much more accessible system for doctors as well.
While some procedures require being in-person, many are also transportable to a virtual platform, such as tele-dentistry consultations. Mental health services will also be covered, thanks to the 2019 Mental Health Parity Act, which ensures that mental health and physical health are treated equally by insurance companies.
With this new bill, doctors will be able to book their patients on a more flexible timeline while still delivering the same quality of care. Our loved ones should not have to risk their lives to go see their doctors. It is for this reason that our legislature must pass the telehealth bill during their special session.
I am writing in complete support of the bill regarding police accountability. Lawmakers will debate next week in a special session on four bills one of which includes improving police accountability.
The bill includes community policing and increased training for officers for interactions with members of minority communities. A 90-day pause in additional military equipment has also been enacted by the Connecticut Police Chiefs Association as lawmakers have begun to question the need for police to have high powered weapons.
The bill calls for all municipal officers to wear body cameras and avoid car searching when occupants are stopped solely for motor vehicle violations.
Law enforcement has a recurring theme of structural racism and bias. With this bill, police who act with bias and prejudice will finally be held accountable for their actions.
After meeting with legislative leaders, Governor Lamot says, “you can move the ball 95 yards down the football field, it’s just that final five yards where you have to see wha consensus we can reach, but i think we’re broadly there.”
If this bill is passed and implemented in the law, this will create a safer and more accepting environment for people of color and different ethnic groups. Police officers need to be held accountable for their actions and by passing this bill accountabilit will be bette implemented.
More than 30 millions Americans have diabetes. In Connecticut, almost 9% of adults have been diagnosed as either a Type 1 or Type 2 diabetic, and another 83,000 or so are thought to have undiagnosed diabetes. For these people, insulin is as necessary as water, food, and air.
Yet from 2002 to 2013 the price of Insulin has almost tripled, making the life saving drug increasingly difficult to afford. For people with health insurance, the impact of this price inflation is minimal: however, those without insurance are often forced to put their life on the line by living without medication they desperately need. During the special session in Hartford, legislators will vote on a bill to cap the price of insulin.
The bill would ensure that Insulin costs no more than $50, and Insulin related supplies don’texceed a price of $100. This bill would increase the affordability of the lifesaving medication and would help Connecticut reduce the number of avoidable deaths.
The proposed bill could help Connecticut citizens avoid the life or death situation incurred wheen necessary medications become unaffordable. It is imperative that this bill is passed and the cycle of death because of inaccessible Insulin is broken.
Police brutality in Connecticut is a problem rarely discussed, but its ramifications are tragic and heartbreaking. In the past five years, there have been 21 use of force deaths, yet none of the officers involved have been charged with any crimes in relation to the deaths. In 2020 alone, 3 out of 4 police-related deaths were Black or Latinx men.
Kids as young as 15 are subject to police violence based on their race, and the people meant to protect them are failing them. Black lives matter and no one, regardless of the crime committed, deserves to lose their life in this way.
A new police accountability bill has been introduced and will be voted on during the special session. This bill is incredibly important, as it supports police reform in Connecticut. The bill dictates that officers will receive compulsory implicit bias training and mental health screenings. It will also reduce access to military-style equipment and mandate the use of body cameras. This will ensure the safety of our community and stop unnecessary deaths by police officers.
I am writing in complete support of the expansion of the Connecticut absentee ballot program. The upcoming special session of the Connecticut General Assembly includes a bill that would temporarily change some of Connecticut’s restrictions on absentee ballots to make it more accessible for the fall. Undoubtedly, this year the election will be different then it has been in the past.
This bill would expand the valid reasons as to why someone would send in an absentee ballot. Instead of the options being limited to someone being out of town or because they are ill, residents will be able to mark COVID-19 as a reason for choosing to use an absentee ballot. This would ensure the safety of all residents, while still ensuring that they will have their constitutional right to vote.
While some opponents believe that absentee ballots will lead to voter fraud, this statement cannot be supported with actual facts. Nationally, there are only seven to eight cases of voter fraud from mail in ballots a year. In a year where there are going to be more security measures concerning voter fraud than ever, it is clear that expanding the absentee ballot program for the November election is more important than ever.
In the age of a deadly pandemic, tasks that were once simple are now genuinely dangerous. Essential daily errands like grocery shopping or getting medication are difficult enough for our healthy citizens, and even more challenging for those in our community who are elderly or have pre existing illnesses. We must recognize that voting is also an essential task, and the coronavirus currently hinders our right to participate in Democracy. In order to preserve this right, we must ensure we have widespread access to absentee ballots.
In the upcoming week, the state legislature will hold a special session to vote on a few important bills, one of which would mail absentee ballot applications to every registered voter in Connecticut. Currently, voters can only vote absentee in specific circumstances, like if they’re out of the state on election day or have a religious obligation. However, if the new bill were to pass, those who just don’t feel comfortable enough leaving their home to vote would be allowed to vote by absentee ballot as well.
It is extremely unrealistic to assume that by November, every citizen will feel safe being physically present at the polls. This important piece of legislation would eliminate the need to choose between voting and being healthy. I urge you to support this bill and hold your legislators who don’t support it accountable
Telehealth is an extremely important and valuable resource, especially in a time like this. I am writing in support of the telehealth bill being passed by the General Assembly during the upcoming special session, which would require insurance companies to cover the resource.
I firmly believe that all Connecticut residents should have access to telehealth services, especially during this pandemic. COVID-19 has created a significant barrier for people seeking medical attention, as they cannot risk leaving their homes.
As of right now, Governor Lamont has said that telehealth services will be extended for Medicaid and private insurance companies through January, but it is crucial that our legislature fights to extend this coverage beyond then.
No one knows when this pandemic will end or what the future of healthcare will look like, and it is so important that officials pass this bill in order to protect all Connecticut residents, especially those who suffer from underlying health issues.
No one should have to risk their health or the health of others in order to seek such medical attention or therapy. It is imperative that our elected officials fight to pass this bill in order to make Telehealth accessible and affordable. Every Connecticut resident deserves equal access to such a resource that ensures their safety and protects their health, as well as the health of those around them.