Dear Connecticut friends,
Our hearts are broken for all those across our country who are in pain right now. As Dr. King taught us, “injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” At times like these, we realize we are only a policy organization. We grieve with those who are hurting — from the families and friends of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery and Breonna Taylor, to every person of color across the nation who is suffering emotionally, physically, and spiritually.
Here is what we do know. We have been in Connecticut for a long time thinking about ways to improve the lives of our citizens through sound policy. And we do that by truly listening, by providing irrefutable research, and by developing solutions – roadmaps that we believe offer all people the chance for a brighter future. At Yankee Institute, our tagline is “free to succeed” – and we take it seriously. We will always be committed to ensuring that every individual in our beautiful state truly has the opportunity to become the person he or she was created to be.
Right now, people want change, and we want to listen and step forward to help make change happen. We have done a lot of thinking already, over many years, about difficult issues Mr. Floyd’s death have once again brought to the forefront. Those include policy reforms that would hold those in power more accountable to the people. We offer them here as a way to give all of us hope. We offer them here because, as a think tank, it is what we have to offer at this time. Specifically:
- Reforming union contracts, which studies have shown increases the likelihood of the use of force by police, dictate disciplinary proceedings and may allow past disciplinary records to be expunged from employee files;
- Reforming the arbitration process, which is dictated by contract and favors upholding work contracts rather than preventing bad actors from returning to their law enforcement jobs;
- Ending a Connecticut-specific loophole called “supersedence,” which allows any union contract to override state law; and
- Reforming rules regarding civil asset forfeiture, which would strongly disincentivize law enforcement from seizing personal property unless there is an actual commission of a crime.
Over the coming days and weeks, we will share more details on these and other policy plans that we hope will spark a discussion for positive change. For as long as it takes, we stand ready to work with all people of good will to do what Yankee Institute was created to do – help ensure equal opportunity for all in a fair and prosperous Connecticut. And we cannot shy away from the difficult questions we all face right now. All of us have a role to play in the path forward. I am here to say that Yankee Institute is clear in what our role can be – and that we are committed to serving the people of our state.
Finally, as always, we also want to listen. Please email us and let us know how you feel. If you’ve never thought of speaking with a policy organization and are not sure why you would, just start by telling us about yourself and what you want to see for the future of Connecticut. Your input helps us craft policy that takes care of people – not government – and I will see every communication you send.
Carol Platt Liebau
Yankee Institute for Public Policy