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EDITORIAL: 11 things we liked this week, one we didn’t

EDITORIAL: 11 things we liked this week, one we didn’t

We liked this week

Meriden school officials finalized graduation plans Tuesday. After discussing options, and guidance from the governor’s office and the city Health and Human Services director, the ad hoc graduation committee decided on a downloadable production that includes speeches, a livestreamed graduate procession the day before, senior photos and classroom and club pictures to memorialize an extraordinary year. The final video will be made available on June 12 at 6 p.m. on the Platt and Maloney high school websites.

The Meriden Police Department said it “stands with its community against racism and police brutality” in a statement issued Monday denouncing the Minneapolis police officers involved in the killing of 46-year-old George Floyd. The statement condemned both “the actions of former Officer Derek Chauvin of the Minneapolis Police Department,” and “the lack of moral courage displayed by the three additional officers who did nothing to stop … Chauvin’s horrific and excessive brutality.”

The Wallingford Town Council unanimously voted to censure Councilor Craig Fishbein this week for retweeting a meme with a racial message. Fishbein himself voted in favor of his own censure. He said it was a “very bad mistake” and apologized again for his “wrong action.” Fishbein is also a state representative for the 90th District, which comprises parts of Wallingford and Cheshire.

Richard Blumenthal and Chris Murphy on Wednesday joined a group of fellow Democratic senators in pressing Pentagon chiefs about the use military force on protesters who have marched and demonstrated in dozens of American cities.  “The military should never be weaponized by the President to limit these expressions for liberty and justice,” said a letter sent to Department of Defense Secretary Mark Esper and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Mark Milley.

Hundreds of people marched around downtown Southington Monday night in a rally prompted by the killing of George Floyd by Minneapolis police. “I’m very proud of my town,” said Southington resident Joseph Goding. About a dozen people gathered at the gazebo in Wallingford Tuesday afternoon for the same purpose. In Wallingford, town resident Darrell Stancuna started sign-waving on Sunday with a homemade cardboard sign that read “Black lives matter” on one side and “Justice for George Floyd” on the other. Other demonstrations took place in Hartford, Bridgeport, New Haven and Middletown.

Democratic City Councilor Miguel Castro, arrested May 23 on charges he assaulted a female family member, resigned from the council Monday. Castro, who had been called on to resign by Meriden party leaders, publicly announced his resignation during a virtual meeting of the Democratic Town Committee Monday night. Castro, who had represented City Council Area 1 since 2012, said he is innocent of the charges against him.

Some struggling immigrant families in Connecticut without legal status will receive a share of $3.5 million in public and private money for COVID-19 relief. Gov. Ned Lamont announced Wednesday that $2.5 million in state-funded grants to landlords will be provided on behalf of renters who are ineligible for similar aid under the federal CARES Act. Additionally, the nonprofit philanthropic organization 4-CT plans to make $1 million available to Connecticut families excluded from federal relief programs.

The Community Health Center on State Street in Meriden has begun offering free COVID-19 testing. Members of the public can get tested for free Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the center at 134 State St. Participants do not need a physician referral but are encouraged to schedule an appointment in advance by calling 475-241-0740.

After weeks of controversy over inadequate COVID-19 testing at nursing homes, Gov. Ned Lamont has ordered mandatory testing of all staff and residents at nursing homes, assisted living facilities and elderly residential communities. Experts have said that the lack of broad testing at such facilities is a major reason why the infection rates and coronavirus fatalities at those institutions have been so high and so deadly.

Wallingford school administrators reached a deal with the district’s bus contractor to pay a fraction of its transportation contract, saving the town approximately $900,000 for the period when schools have been closed due to the coronavirus. The negotiations between the district and Durham School Services reduced the amount the town will be paying from $1.3 million to approximately $372,000.

Holding handwritten signs, honking car horns and driving in vehicles decorated with purple balloons and messages offering hope and honoring the lives of loved ones, cancer survivors, their families and other advocates departed the parking lot of Wallingford’s Lyman Hall High School last Friday night in a motorcade that ended at the Meriden Green. Organizers are still hoping to hold an in-person Relay for Life this year. It is tentatively scheduled for October.

We didn’t like this week

In April, unemployment rates more than doubled in communities in this area due to the COVID-19 pandemic, according to preliminary data reported by the state Department of Labor. The statewide unemployment rate had climbed to at least 8% in April, from the state’s previous rate of 3.6% in March. Locally, the rates were: Meriden, 8.7 %; Wallingford, 7.3%; Southington, 7.2 %; and Cheshire, 5.7%.

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