Sunday, July 28, 2013

Newtown, Who Knew?

Danbury State’s Attorney Stephen Sedensky has been keeping information concerning the mass murder at Sandy Hook Elementary School close to his vest, and state police spokesman Lieutenant Paul Vance has countless times told everyone in Connecticut why: “There is an ongoing investigation.”

The criminal investigation has been ongoing ever since Adam Lanza, armed to the teeth with weapons he appropriated from his mother, shot his way into the school and murdered 20 young children and 6 staff members. Mr. Lanza also murdered his mother before leaving on his murderous mission.

Right from the get-go, the General Assembly was bum rushed by Governor Dannel Malloy and Democratic legislative leaders into producing a gun restriction bill in the absence of vital information then in the possession of Mr. Sedensky. And whenever Connecticut reporters were so bold as to ask Mr. Vance for information concerning the slayings, they were told they would have to wait for the criminal report because “the criminal investigation was ongoing.”

And ongoing… and ongoing… and ongoing…

After the General Assembly had signed off on a gun bill said to be among the most restrictive in the nation, and after a promised criminal report release date of mid-March had passed, and after a promised release date of mid-June had passed, and after state police had spilled some of the Sandy Hook beans at a conference in New Orleans, grievously disappointing Mr. Malloy, and after Connecticut’s all Democratic U.S. Congressional Delegation had failed to persuade Majority Leader Harry Reid to bring up a much watered down gun restriction bill in the U.S. Senate, and after an arrest warrant was finally teased from the holders of the Sandy Hook secrets, and, most recently, after a crime squad leader in the criminal investigation  appeared in conferences across the fruited plains -- but, significantly, not in Connecticut -- disgorging information that can only be considered compromising to an ongoing investigation, after all this bilge has passed under the noses of Connecticut’s media, some folk in the mainstream media are now beginning to get just a touch antsy.

Why can’t state criminal investigators share with the people in Connecticut – and Sandy Hook – the information they have disclosed in, among other places, Maine, Michigan, Nashville, Tennessee, Dallas Texas and Billings, Montana?

This is more than sad. It is more than an insult to the parents of victims in Sandy Hook.

Governor Malloy wants Newtown to distribute victim funds held in reserve for future contingencies to the parents of children slain in Sandy Hook and close out the funding account. Newtown officials, from the very first, wanted to leave some money in reserve for, as Newtown resident Maryann Murtha put it in a recent letter imploring Mr. Malloy not to disturb decisions made about funding at the local level, “short and long term community needs.”

“And now, at the 11th hour,” Ms. Murtha wrote,U.S. Sens. Chris Murphy and Richard Blumenthal have jumped on the bandwagon, even though their jurisdiction is questionable at best.

“At this point, more than two-thirds of the $11.7 million is going directly to the families of those who died, the two injured and the 12 first-graders who survived the attack on their classrooms. The governor wants the ‘account closed.’ Is this for political gain? How does he know what the timeline should be?”

This is a governor who knows how to get what he wants. And Mr. Malloy does not want the criminal investigation closed, so long as an open investigation remains politically useful.

Danbury State Attorney Sedensky should congratulate himself on his ability to parse words.

Way back in March, attempting to staunch leaks in the media that might have compromised his continuing investigation, Mr. Sedensky issued instructions “that any and all such presentations involving evidence in the criminal investigation be ceased while the investigation is pending and my report is still outstanding.”

Mr. Sedensky has previewed the police presentations given out in several states and is certain that presenters “are not talking about the investigation. They will be talking about logistics and victim control, which is different than talking about details of the investigation.'' And Mr. Malloy has given his imprimatur to the state police: “All they are doing is sharing some of the procedural lessons that were learned that terrible day.”

Neither Mr. Sedensky nor Mr. Malloy has indicated when a similar presentation will be scheduled at the conference center in Hartford. 

Mr. Sedensky and Mr. Malloy, both lawyers, might have come in handy during the High Middle Ages, when theologians were discussing how many angels could fit on the head of a pin.

The legislation inspired by the assault on those poor school children should have followed a complete criminal investigation. A précis of the criminal report could have been made available to the relevant committee chairmen in camera when the General assembly sat, months after the bloody assault in Sandy Hook, to construct legislation designed to prevent such school invasions in the future. But the General Assembly was in a rush to get the cart improperly placed before the horse. During this process, neither God nor all the angels in Heaven were permitted to interfere with the political chest puffing of Connecticut’s two U.S. Senators, the governor, Mr. Sedensky or the state police – some of whom, one hopes, were drafted as unwilling accomplices in the vastly entertaining political show.
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