Winners and Losers , 3-8-2014

We liked this week

Career criminal Frankie Resto was sentenced to 53 years for the 2012 killing of 70-year-old Meriden convenience store owner Ibrahim Ghazal. Resto, 38, pleaded guilty to murder and first-degree robbery in November. “Please, I beg you, don’t let this killer ever again see the light of day,” said Fapyo Ghazal, Ibrahim Ghazal’s son, to New Haven Superior Court Judge Patrick Clifford. Resto, a Meriden resident, entered the store, ordered a customer to the ground at gunpoint and demanded money from Ibrahim Ghazal. After Ghazal turned over the cash, Resto shot him in the chest and fled. Prosecutor Kevin Doyle said that Resto will serve “every day of the 53 years.”

When the weather warms up, so, too, will the U.S. economy — that, at least, is the prevailing view of economists, who shrugged off a government report that the economy was weaker last quarter than first thought. Severe winter weather is probably slowing growth again this quarter. But as the chill and snow fade into memory, long-delayed spending by consumers and businesses could invigorate the economy starting in spring.

Connecticut Transportation Commissioner James Redeker said he’s willing to review whether it makes sense to add rust inhibitors to chemical road treatments used to clear ice and snow on state roads and highways, as his agency faces complaints from motorists, truckers and local fire officials about corroded vehicles. Redeker said that there’s no evidence to suggest rust inhibitors help combat the corrosive effects of road treatments, but is open to investigating any possible benefits or potential harmful environmental impacts.

A program that combines basketball with police officers volunteering as coaches and mentors for middle school students has proven successful in its first year at the Boys & Girls Club of Meriden. The program, called PHASE 12, was funded through a state grant.

In the first meeting since Meriden City Council instituted rules allowing for expanded public comment, 13 residents were allowed to speak, 10 of whom spoke solely on the issue of whether or not to install sewers on Hourigan Drive. The council unanimously agreed at its last meeting to expand public comment, allowing members of the public to speak on any city matter for up to three minutes. Previously, residents were only allowed to speak about items on the council’s agenda on which action was slated. Under the new rules, the public comment session can last 30 minutes. We hope this will work well, over time, for both citizens and councilors.

Meriden’s school system was one of seven in the country to win a “Helping Kids Program Mini Grant,” money that will be donated to the family of two children who were killed in a November car accident. The grant, sponsored by the American Association of School Administrators and National Joint Powers Alliance, is for $2,000 that will be added to the Cruz/Schroder Memorial Fund. The fund was established after a drunk-driving accident on Nov. 3, 2013 on Broad Street.

Gaylord Hospital in Wallingford has formed a five-year partnership with Quinnipiac University’s Frank H. Netter MD School of Medicine, which will have medical students working with the staff at the hospital for clinical rotations, as well as having doctors creating and teaching newly developed curriculum.

We didn’t like this week

Russian troops took over the strategic Crimean peninsula of Ukraine without firing a shot. The newly installed government in Kiev was powerless to react, and despite calls by U.S. President Barack Obama for Russia to pull back its forces, Western governments had few options to counter Russia’s military moves.

The U.S. military has failed to upgrade the discharges of Vietnam veterans who developed post-traumatic stress disorder, resulting in stigma and loss of benefits, according to a federal lawsuit filed Monday. Five Vietnam veterans and three veterans organizations are suing the Army, the Navy and the Air Force in Connecticut. The veterans say they suffered PTSD before it was recognized and were discharged under other-than-honorable conditions that made them ineligible for benefits.

A Groton, Connecticut, school board member has criticized Superintendent Michael Graner’s request that board members not speak to the media. Graner sent a newsletter to school board members last week, saying he submitted the board’s proposed $75.1 million budget to Town Manager Mark Oefinger. He advised that all requests from news reporters be referred to the school board chairwoman. The Day of New London reports that school board member Shelley Gardner wrote to Graner that he should fight for freedom of speech, not suppress it. Graner said he was relaying a decision the board made in January.



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