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Start planning to make state government normal, too

“Amateurs talk strategy, professionals talk logistics.”

So would opine my late husband Ian, former Royal Marine. Simply put, having a brilliant plan is not enough. One must lay out the steps needed to implement it successfully. No tank attack can be effective without factoring in, not only the requisite number of troops and tanks, but also the vast convoy of trucks carrying the tons of ammunition, food, and fuel needed to sustain them. Pfizer’s mRNA vaccine rollout does not work without the design and production of the super-cold containers needed to keep the vaccine at the right temperature and a tightly choreographed delivery schedule. In our just-in-time world, Amazon and similar companies live or die on their logistics.

Why am I expounding on logistics? To quote the headline of the March 27 editorial in this newspaper, ”After more than a year, governing by fiat needs an exit plan.” The legislative branch has been almost completely sidelined in the approximately 13 months since Gov. Ned Lamont started exercising his executive authority. The declarations of public health and civil preparedness emergencies were definitely needed as the governor and the state confronted an unprecedented crisis. Decisions needed to be made and policies needed to be implemented on the spot, and rightly so. The state and its residents were well served.

However, here we are, in April of 2021, and the governor is still making unilateral decisions. There have been no steps outlined for what happens next. Where are the logistics? Step by step, what is the process going to be for determining which orders stay, which go, which need some tweaking? That is why, when the state legislature convened on March 25 to vote on the continuation of Lamont’s executive authority until May 20, I supported our House Republican amendment, which laid out a process for restoring regular order.

Many of my colleagues rightly stressed the need to return the legislature to its co-equal role. My remarks in the Chamber focused on how the Republican amendment described in precise detail the logistics of the transition − the how, not the why. At this stage, if there is agreement that we need to move away from one man making the decisions for the residents of this state, how do we make that happen as quickly and as smoothly and as safely as possible?

While we are planning the logistics of that transition, how about planning for the re-opening of the Capitol and Legislative Office Building? You can go to the supermarket, you can go to a home improvement store, a performing events venue, a restaurant, your children are going to school, but you can’t go to your own state Capitol, the People’s House. The permanent Zoom world is no substitute for direct human interaction with your elected officials, whether you are a reporter, a lobbyist, or most importantly, a constituent.

I have no doubt a safe way to re-open our halls of government can be devised.

Perhaps future public hearings incorporate a virtual option for those who can’t take the time to sit for hours waiting for a turn to testify. We would be foolish not to incorporate the changes we made as a response to the pandemic when they make sense and increase access. On the other hand, we can’t permanently exclude those who lack digital access or simply want to have their voices heard in person. 

Now is the time to talk about the logistics of getting state government back to business in Hartford, the logistics. If Lamont doesn’t have any good logistics people in his contact list, the State Armory is right across the street from the LOB. General Evon and his National Guard folks know an awful lot about logistics.

Just saying, Ned.

Let’s get back to work, together, the way it’s supposed to be.

Holly Cheeseman, a Republican, is the 37th District state representative for the towns of East Lyme and Salem.

 

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