Shutdown, health care, school safety are concerns raised during Murphy visit
DERBY-The government shutdown, health care, global warming and school safety were among the many concerns area residents expressed to U.S. Sen. Chris Murphy during a town meeting Saturday at the city’s Middle School.
A standing room only crowd of nearly 300 people filled the school’s cafeteria and then lined both its sides in anticipation of questioning Murphy about their concerns.
The Senator spent nearly two hours both publicly and individually talking to resident who, like Brooke Rondeau came from as far as Bozrah in New London County and others like Matt McGee and Stacy Stableford who came from nearby Shelton and Trumbull respectfully.
Two federal correction employees working in Danbury urged Murphy to push legislation that would help them get paid.
Pat Wynn, a union representative at the Danbury institution, said many workers are single parents living paycheck to paycheck and those paychecks ended Friday.
“This is the longest government shutdown in the history of our country,” Murphy told the crowd.
He said Congress passed legislation that will guarantee backpay to everyone of the 800,000 federal employees impacted, including the FBI, IRS and TSA as well as federal correctional workers. Additional legislation which would prohibit creditors and credit rating agencies from taking action against these employees for failing to pay their bills timely is being worked on, he said.
“I get it the President really wants to build the wall,” Murphy told the crowd. “I don’t agree that federal employees should be held hostage for something Congress is not ready to give him.”
He asked what happened to the President’s campaign promise that Mexico would pay for the wall.
The Senator said he was hopeful “Senate Republicans would come around” and get the government open and its employees back to work.
Once that’s done, he said he would agree to a lengthy discussion with the President on border security.
However Murphy told the crowd, some of whom support the Trump’s wall building demands, that data he has seen shows the border crossing counties “are the safest in the country.” He said rates of crimes committed by undocumented immigrants “are lower than” those committed by native born Americans” and more people on the terrorist watch list cross into the country from the Canadian borders than those with Mexico.
He said forty such people crossed into the U.S. from Canada and only six from Mexico in recent months.
“The notion that the undocumented immigrants create a security risk is not held up by the data,” Murphy said.
McGee, a 17-year-old Shelton resident, was one of several speakers who questioned Murphy on why he was not supporting an all-in Medicare health insurance plan.
Murphy told the crowd he was in favor of offering choice—either a Medicare health care plan or private insurance. He also wants drug companies to be required to pay a portion of their profits into a pool for prescription abuse treatment.
Jennifer Magri, the president of Seymour’s board of education whose daughter teaches in Bridgeport, took issue with Murphy over legislation he proposed that protects students with disabilities from the dangers of being secluded and restrained.
Magri’s daughter previously sent Murphy a letter detailing an incident in her kindergarten class in which a student began throwing crayons then marbles, ripping up paper and telling her to die despite her efforts to calm him down with such positive incentives as sticker and iPad time. While she was calling security a second time she was struck in the eye with one of his thrown marbles.
Magri asked why aren’t more measures taken to protect teachers and staff from such troubled students.
Murphy told her there are better interventions than “locking a student up in a room.” He said the legislation was directed at other states, who, unlike Connecticut, don’t do as a good a job.
“He blew me off just like his staff blew my daughter off,” said Magri, explaining that Murphy neither addressed her concerns today or those of her daughter, who received a standardized email.
Rondeau traveled from Bozrah to ask about irreversible climate change.
“The two things that matter more than anything are global warming and voting rights,” Murphy said. “If you can’t breathe, you can’t vote.”
He called the climate the Holy Grail because protecting it now only saves the planet but creates jobs in alternative energy areas.
Stableford, a Trumbull resident told Murphy she needs “hope and optimism” from becoming a “miserable American” after fed anger, conflict and resentment daily from television news.
“Turn off cable TV for awhile,” Murphy suggested. While he commended the investigative reporting many of these news programs do he said “political news is entertainment and entertainment is conflict.”
“There have been a litany of bi-partisian bills passed” which he said got almost no mention on TV.