Monday, December 05, 2005

Over the Weekend: Connecticut Post Criticizes the State for Backing Off the Sound Cleanup. More Monk Parakeets. The Day Covers Broadwater

Don’t Back Off the Cleanup … The Connecticut Post has followed Friday's page one story on the state's attempt to cut back on the Long Island Sound clean up with a solid editorial saying that Legislators are following a course that could be catastrophic for the Sound:

Here's a news item that just plain stinks — literally: It appears that the state of Connecticut is significantly relaxing its once strong commitment to cleaning up Long Island Sound by unleashing a lethal double-whammy of cutting funding and relaxing pollution regulations.

The editorial points out that even though Legislators took money out of the Clean Water Fund -- money that should have been used for the Sound cleanup -- it still has ample funds for sewage plant improvements, assuming they think that sewage plant improvements are important:

The state comptroller estimated earlier this week that the state has a projected budget surplus of $306 million. ...

Connecticut mustn't retreat in its efforts to clean the Sound. The state has made significant progress over the past decade toward cleaning the Sound waters and keeping them clean. To begin to relax its efforts now could be catastrophic.

So the press is on the case, as they should have been for weeks. Advocates for the Sound shouldn't underestimate how important it is for stories like this to be in the newspaper. Government officials, especially politicians or those answerable directly to politicians, hate bad press. They start to sweat even when they get a voicemail from a reporter about something that might make them look bad. But reporters learn about important news only when someone tells them about it. So call them up and let them know. Sound advocates need to seize the opportunity to press the issue. Connecticut needs to think a little harder about it and then change course.

Monk parakeets … A filmmaker from Massachusetts who was shooting the removal of the monk parakeets' nests in West Haven last week happened to be on the scene when police arrested Julie Cook, handcuffed her, took her to jail and charged her with breach of peace. His name is Marc Johnson, and he says Cook was indeed loud but that she was not violent. Here's the Connecticut Post coverage.

Having not been there it's difficult to know exactly what happened. But in my opinion, if Cook was bothering someone -- like the police or the United Illuminating crews -- because she was expressing herself loudly, that's their problem, not hers. She ought to find a lawyer who will argue that she has a right to protest and express herself, particularly in her own neighborhood, and that they police should be ordered to back off. (I reported the other day, by the way, that she was arrested Thursday night; in fact, the arrest was Wednesday.)

After I wrote about the monk parakeets last week, a reader named Amy took issue with my characterization of some of the protesters as "outside agitators." She wrote:

As one of the protestors, I can tell you that we are all local Connecticut residents who are appalled at what's going on. There are no "outside agitators"!

Fair enough. I was referring to Friends of Animals, who do this sort of thing as a profession. But I don't refer to Save the Sound as outside agitators when they get involved in issues such as the proposal to put a liquefied natural gas facility in the middle of the Sound, so I shouldn't call Friends of Animals outside agitators either.

Having said that, I think Friends of Animals' reaction has been almost comical. One of their suggestions is that people protest by not turning on their outdoor Christmas lights -- in other words, protest by saving energy. UI's spokesman said that's great -- we encourage energy conservation.

Friends of Animals also held a candlelight vigil for the monk parakeets on Friday evening. The Connecticut Post reported that almost 48 people showed up. I know it sounds like I'm making this up, but I'm not: They held a candlelight vigil for the monk parakeets. UI apparently decided to take the night off, and so the protesters were on their own.

Broadwater in The Day … The New London Day published the last of its three big Broadwater stories, here.


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