‘Drink Wiser’ this holiday season

To the editor:

As we gather over holiday feasts this time of year, many of us choose to enjoy some holiday spirits. Before you ring in the New Year with friends and family, we ask that you resolve to enjoy responsibly and “Drink Wiser” this holiday season.

Budweiser’s new responsible drinking campaign, “Drink Wiser,” promotes simple drinking behaviors that can lift your holiday cheer while also keeping our community safe.

If you plan to toast the season, remember these two resolutions to keep everyone’s spirits bright:

1. Plan ahead for safe rides

2. Hydrate between beers

Since the launch of Anheuser-Busch’s first responsible drinking campaign in 1982, the brewer and its wholesaler partners, including Dichello Distributors Inc., have invested more than $1 billion in national advertising campaigns and community-based programs to promote alcohol responsibility and prevent drunk driving and harmful drinking behaviors.

Drunk driving and binge drinking are 100 percent preventable, so make the smart choice this holiday season. Those who plan ahead to “Drink Wiser” can spend their holidays focused on what matters most.

Tony Lota

Alcohol Awareness Coordinator

Dichello Distributors Inc.

Public school teacher pensions in Connecticut are not a contractual item

To the editor:

Public school teacher pensions in Connecticut are not a contractual item. Pensions are off limits to the collective bargaining process sanctioned between the local education board and teacher union.

In Connecticut, public school teacher pensions are a matter of state law, the same law exempting public school teachers from participation in Social Security Retirement and Disability.

State law determines how to fund the teacher pension plan and how much it will be funded by various sources. As a result, the funding process has always been about small state politics in our state capital. As with any state law developed under the Gold Dome, the teacher pension laws get put in place with the state legislators and governor negotiating with, and ultimately satisfying with the latest law, the appropriate lobbying group. In the case of teacher pensions, the Connecticut Education Association, or state teachers union, is the lobbying group.

Everybody seems to know that the state teacher pension fund is horribly underfunded. Few know know why or by how much. Few seem to recognize, or acknowledge, that the underfunding is due both to the state never contributing enough to the fund from annual tax revenues and to the state not requiring teachers to contribute enough with deductions from their regular paychecks.

If you do not think that the process has been a political train wreck from the outset, consider that the current executive director of the CEA is the former leader of the majority Democrats in the Connecticut Senate. He was always a master at crafting fictional fiscal policy as a state senator. Now he is doing the same at the CEA for the leaders of the teachers union who brought him on board to lead their lobbying efforts in Hartford.

Malloy’s solution to all of this was to dump the funding shortfall on the municipalities in one fell swoop. It was a nonstarter from the day Malloy announced it, but that is how he rolled in his fiscal fantasy land.

Lamont needs to address the teacher pension underfunding mentality head on. For those who think that keeping Connecticut teacher pensions in fiscal fantasy land is pro-education or pro-teacher, I imagine they still believe in the Tooth Fairy, too.

Jim Brown