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Lamont failed to protect lives and livelihoods. Why extend its absolute rule?

Governor Lamont has extended his emergency powers until Feb. 9 next year, despite his disastrous record so far in exercising those powers. Connecticut has maintained the state’s fourth-highest coronavirus death rate (126 per 100,000 citizens, according to Statista).

Does this record justify the longest extension of emergency powers in the country? According National Governors Association data last weekno other state governor has emergency powers extending through 2021 and only two are empowered even through December.

The challenge in wielding extraordinary executive power is to limit the spread of the coronavirus while inflicting as little economic damage as possible.

Lamont has achieved a particularly poor balance. He oversaw an extremely high death rate, while imposing one of the toughest business shutdowns in the country, no doubt with ultimately disastrous economic impact.

Lamont doesn’t have the excuse of the three deadliest hit states, New York, New Jersey and Massachusetts with their large, densely populated urban centers. Connecticut is a suburban and rural state.

Lamont mishandled the most obvious and deadly threat. At the very start of the shutdown in early March, the White House coronavirus task force announced in national television press conferences that data from China and Italy showed that the coronavirus was targeting elderly citizens. in a dramatic way. This turned out to be correct, with good more than three-quarters of national deaths are over 65an age group that represents only about one-sixth of the population.

It was clear from the outset that it was imperative to protect older populations, especially those living in congregate care facilities. The first outbreak in the United States occurred at the Life Care nursing home in Kirkland, Washington.

Lamont’s results? The highest death rate in nursing homes in the Northeast (and, probably, the country): 91 per 100,000, according to a study commissioned by the state. Citizens over the age of 60 represent more than 90% of Covid-19 deaths in Connecticut.

Lamont failed to protect the elderly. To say that is not to subject it to harsh or unfair criticism after the fact. The threat to the elderly was clear from the start.

Not only did he miss the primary threat, he missed its corollary. Statistically, young people are virtually immune to the virus. Thus, the education of school children and an economy fueled by working-age citizens could proceed normally.

Instead, Lamont pursued a one-size-fits-all, one-stop policy. The same is true for most of the country, but that’s no excuse.

Fortunately, Lamont has delegated decisions about reopening schools to local authorities. My hometown of Greenwich, Connecticut demonstrated that there can be different strokes for different people. Local authorities reopened schools two weeks ago, with parents given the choice of sending their children to school for in-person instruction or keeping them at home and enrolling them in remote learning.

On the teachers’ side, older teachers and those who pose health risks could withdraw. Non-subscriber teachers are providing distance education to learners who stay at home. This is an optimal solution, protecting the vulnerable and enabling the vast majority of low-risk students and teachers to continue largely normal schooling and lives.

Lamont’s record simply does not justify such a long extension of absolute executive authority. His extension required the approval of the General Assembly and that means the consent of his fellow Democrats who dominate the body. The Democrats could have, and should have, reasserted the constitutional authority and responsibility of the legislature. They did not do it. They abdicated. They are complicit in Lamont’s dismal record and ominous risks under his still weak leadership.

Although the part-time General Assembly is not normally in session at this time of year, these are not normal hours – the body is meeting in extraordinary session this week and next. Why exercise legislative authority only in extraordinary sessions and only on very limited agendas? Why cede all other legislative powers to the governor? After six months, the overall dimensions of the pandemic are widely known; legislators should weigh in on politics.

Now, after suffering a tragic public health outcome, the citizens of Connecticut face primarily economic risk, possibly in the form of the greatest economic devastation among the fifty states. Just this week, another study came out revealing the state’s perilous financial situation. A truth in accounting study ranked Connecticut 48e with more than $50,000 in debt per taxpayer (number 47 has about $31,000).

This summer, Lamont was lucky enough to save the state $150 million by rescinding or suspending a 5.5% pay raise for state employees. Lamont had said it was unfair to give a pay rise to those employees who had a no-layoff guarantee for an entire decade — and still do — while hundreds of thousands of private sector workers lost their jobs during the closure. Yet he backed down in fear of public sector union bosses and refused to use his emergency powers even to delay the increase.

Connecticut citizens deserve better. In November, voters are expected to vote out Lamont enablers, Democrats in the House and Senate. Then, in two years, voters should get rid of this incompetent and cowardly head of state.