State Sen. Ed Meyer, D-Guilford, will not seek a sixth term in November. He has been a brave soldier in the endless battle to protect the public's right to know what its government is doing. This is harder duty than most people think. Those invested with public authority in Connecticut are always looking for ways to douse the spotlight on what they do your name.
It never ends, and the danger grows each year as the legislature heads to a frantic conclusion. Someone always tries to slip a few sentences into a long bill that will deprive the public of access to documents. The bad actors will often find a dupe to do their dirty work. Ed Meyer was never anyone's dupe, and that is high praise in an era when breaking ranks with your party is deemed a mortal political sin.
Nearing 80 and able to point to a diverse career in law enforcement, education, and politics, Meyer does not require a title into perpetuity to know who he is. Full marks to him for having a broad range of interests. An accomplished athlete, Meyer told a New York radio station last week that he and his wife will now devote serious effort to playing high-level senior tennis. That's livin'.
Ted Kennedy Jr. is expected to make a bid for Meyer's seat. This delights many Democrats, though not all. Kennedy's boosters are said to have given more than a nudge to Meyer to take a bow and get off the stage. Meyer's done that with grace and good humor. If Kennedy wins this fall, speculation on his way forward will center on 3rd District U.S. Rep. Rosa DeLauro. She's closing in on a quarter-century in the House. There will be some sharp elbows out for the excitable DeLauro, and she knows it.
State Senate President Pro Tem Donald Williams, D-Brooklyn, is also leaving public office this year. He will have served for 22 years and is an argument for term limits. Unlike Meyer, independence is not a word that springs to mind when describing Williams. He did break ranks with Democrats in his first term to oppose a ban on assault weapons, something that took some explaining last year.
Williams remained in the thrall of former state Sen. Thomas Gaffey long after it was clear that the Meriden Democrat had been fiddling with campaign funds and legislative expenses. Gaffey resigned from the legislature and was charged with larceny.
House Minority Leader Lawrence Cafero, R-Norwalk, acknowledged the inevitable and announced his career in the legislature is ending, also after 22 years. What a right royal mess Cafero made. He mixed his public trust with private interests by working as a "contract partner" at the Hartford office of the Brown Rudnick law firm. Cafero maintained a close relationship with members of the firm's lobbying practice.
Cafero got snagged in a 2012 federal investigation into campaign contributions and legislation. He was caught on video as an informant deposited $5,000 in cash into a refrigerator in Cafero's office. The money was converted into campaign contributions from straw donors, and the scheme was revealed last year during the criminal trial of a campaign aide to former Speaker of the House Christopher Donovan.
What a mess Cafero leaves in his wake. His gelatinous, silent deputies, Reps. Themis Klarides and Vincent Candelora, have disgraced themselves beyond repair for failing to take a stand for honor during this long fiasco. They will wear Cafero's deep stains for however long they remain in public life.
Meanwhile, the assisted suicide bill was killed in the legislature last week. This was for the best. By raising the profile of the issue early now, it ought to get more attention in the coming campaigns for governor and the legislature. The broader public ought to be heard on the proposal. This is not a change in the law that should be adopted without prolonged, statewide debate.
Assisted suicide is legal in some northern European countries, so we can benefit from their experience. One jarring change in Belgium's law came this year when its legislature adopted assisted suicide for minors. Keeping the right to die from becoming the obligation to die is something we need to talk about.
Kevin Rennie is a lawyer and a former Republican state legislator. He can be reached at email@example.com.