By CHRIS POWELL
Back when children attended school in Connecticut, before administration was forfeited to the teacher unions, and the kids had their first lessons about government, they were taught the division of responsibility. That is, the federal government is responsible for issues affecting the whole country, state government is responsible for issues affecting the whole state, and municipal government handles issues particular to a city or town.
So imagine how confusing it must be now for students in New Haven.
They don't go to school at all and probably won't return for another few months no matter what happens with the virus epidemic. "Remote learning" is available to them but it is indeed "remote," since many don't participate or only pretend to, as they lack parents or have parents who, already poor, have been crushed by the epidemic and are stressed out. As measured by proficiency tests, even before the epidemic the education of most students in New Haven was minimal.
Those students in New Haven who are literate enough to read the city's newspapers or interested enough to watch television news about the city may know that while city property taxes are destructively high, city government is always broke and begging for more money from state government in Hartford or Yale University downtown.
Just from everyday living the kids also may know that crime is rampant in the city and that it's not so safe for them to go outside. Four people were shot in New Haven on Thanksgiving Day alone. Last Sunday evening a 14-year-old boy and a 16-year-old girl were shot as they walked along a city street together.
Even staying home is no guarantee of safety for kids in New Haven. In June a recent graduate of Hillhouse High School who had been a basketball star there was killed when a bullet apparently meant for someone else was fired into the house where she slept, an outrage now forgotten outside the city.
Nevertheless, a few days after the Thanksgiving shootings Mayor Justin Elicker announced his appointment of a 16-member Climate Emergency Mobilization Task Force for the city - a year and two months after the Board of Alders had authorized the task force to address the "emergency." The mayor's office said the task force will "tackle climate change in New Haven" and "aim to end community-wide greenhouse gas emissions by or before December 31, 2030." The task force also will try to discern how "to safely draw down carbon from the atmosphere."
Those may be nice objectives for government somewhere, but in the meantime who will take responsibility for New Haven if not city government itself?
For example, is city government committed to balancing its budget by 2030, ensuring that city students perform at grade level by 2030, and making city streets safe by 2030 - or even by a century from now?
And if city government can't commit to that much, which is just the ordinary work of municipal government everywhere else, how can it presume to vanquish greenhouse gas emissions and remove carbon from the atmosphere?
The members of New Haven's Climate Emergency Mobilization Task Force might perform infinitely greater service by helping the police patrol the city and by mentoring some of the city's thousands of fatherless and neglected children.
The climate change stuff could be left to the federal government, which soon will have a politically correct administration, just as state government already has one.
For as those administrations busy themselves with climate change and neglect their own more immediate responsibilities, they will be glad to let New Haven and Connecticut's other cities remain in effect concentration camps for the poor.
Of course New Haven's Climate Emergency Mobilization Task Force is just more of the city's own politically correct posturing as the swelled heads at Yale encourage those in charge of the city to think that it has the expertise and moral authority to run the world when it can't even run itself. There is no harder work than running an impoverished city, but when city government makes itself ridiculous as New Haven's so often does, it gives the rest of government another excuse to turn away and the city's remaining unpoor residents another reason to move out.
Chris Powell is a columnist for the Journal Inquirer in Manchester.