CHRIS POWELL: Zoning, Tweed controversies suggest new motto for state

Published on Wednesday, 23 June 2021 21:00

Municipal zoning that controversially excludes inexpensive housing in the suburbs isn't the only area where Connecticut long has allowed the local interest to thwart the broader public interest. That is also the story of Tweed-New Haven Airport.

The governor, business leaders, and most residents in the New Haven area who pay any attention favor improving Tweed so that people in the southern part of the state don't have to drive an hour or two to catch a flight that might not take even that long. The New Haven area, with plenty of commerce, industry, and universities, including Yale, almost surely could support a real airport of its own, and such an airport would support the area's economic growth.

But since 2009 Connecticut actually has made it illegal to improve Tweed. That's when state legislators representing neighborhoods near the airport persuaded the General Assembly and Gov. Jodi Rell to enact a law forbidding the extension of the airport's runway beyond the current 5,600 feet even as a 7,000-foot runway is necessary to accommodate modern jetliners with enough seating to make serving the airport profitable.

Two years ago a federal appeals court found this state law contrary to federal law and invalidated it. But no matter how obvious the benefit of improving Tweed was, Connecticut still didn't repeal the law. At least now state government, New Haven city government, and town government in East Haven, where some airport property is located, are working together not just to extend the runway but also to build a better terminal building and relocate airport access to the East Haven side.

The details of the plan may be arguable. Airport operator Avports will get a 43-year lease on Tweed and commit to spending millions of dollars improving it. The Tweed-New Haven Airport Authority, which is run by a board consisting of local residents, will lose control of the airport, but New Haven won't have to subsidize it anymore. Avports will solicit more flights to serve Tweed, for which the prospects are good, and a new budget airline is already planning to come in, though of course it may not survive long.

There may be stumbles and a "temporary" subsidy eventually might be sought from state government. Someday Tweed might even be taken over by the Connecticut Airport Authority. But state government already subsidizes the state's major airport, Bradley International in Windsor Locks, and nobody complains about that, given the airport's huge contribution to Connecticut's economy and quality of life.

Tweed has been operating for 90 years, so no one living nearby can be surprised by the desire to improve it to keep up with population and economic growth. What might be surprising to people unfamiliar with Connecticut is that it has taken the state so long to get around to making Tweed really useful.

But then if a referendum on the state motto was ever called, no one in Connecticut could be surprised if Qui transtulit sustinet was replaced by Non in me postica -- "Not in my back yard."

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OH, THE OPPRESSION: Just think of how comprehensively racist the country must be if, as the incessant racial prattle complains, requiring people to present photo identification when voting is racist.

For people routinely may be required to produce photo identification when, among other things, buying alcoholic beverages and tobacco products; when applying for a job, a bank account, a car loan, or home mortgage; and when boarding an airplane or entering a casino.

The purpose of requiring photo identification in those circumstances is simple: compliance with the law and prevention of fraud. Those are the same purposes for which presentation of photo identification when voting should be required.

Yes, some poor souls don't have photo identification, but most jurisdictions will provide general all-purpose photo IDs to people who can produce at least their birth certificates and evidence of an address.

Indeed, to facilitate violation of federal immigration law, Connecticut will provide driver's licenses and New Haven city government will provide city identification cards even to immigration lawbreakers.

Having to prove one's identification isn't racist at all. It's a small duty of modern citizenship.

Chris Powell is a columnist for the Journal Inquirer in Manchester.

Posted in The Bristol Press, Column on Wednesday, 23 June 2021 21:00. Updated: Wednesday, 23 June 2021 21:02.