Last year, I wrote two commentaries in CT Mirror (on April 12 and August 23) about Danbury Proton, a revolutionary, high-tech, world-class, life-saving proton therapy cancer treatment center that’s proposed in Danbury.
This is a $90 million project using no state funds, that will create about 100 construction jobs for two years, about 30 permanent jobs, generate significant local and state tax revenue, be a remarkable example of “green” building design and operation, and improve the quality, access, R&D capacity and competitive cost-efficiency of Connecticut’s health care system.
Unfortunately, the project is currently stuck in the state bureaucracy mud. We’ve been asking for approval to build the facility for nearly three years. This experience has been quite an eye-opener on the inner workings of our government, and for me, it is not encouraging. As a native, a long-time business owner, and a taxpayer in Connecticut, I’m ashamed of my state government.
The term bureaucracy means “rule by desks or offices;” a complex organization with multi-layered systems and processes that make decision-making slow and are designed to maintain uniformity and control; a system of government in which many, if not most, important decisions are made by full-time paid officials instead of elected representatives.
Bureaucracies exist in all types of organizations, from corporations to non-profits, educational institutions, religious groups, health systems, social service networks, unions and governments. As organizations grow over time, they tend to become more bureaucratic. While some may view this as an advantage or a strength, I do not. I’ve spent my entire professional career in entrepreneurial and small business environments that thrive on a can-do spirit, an action orientation, and a mindset that progress is more important than process.
Today in Connecticut, it often takes years and vast sums of money to get things done, to initiate constructive change and to enjoy the benefits of innovation. Getting stuck in bureaucratic mud seems to have become the status quo.
As the 2023 legislature in Hartford is now in session, I urge state government to turn the corner on bureaucracy by simplifying, streamlining and speeding up approval processes, and treating the public as much-needed, much-appreciated customers. It can be done. Where there’s a will, there’s a way.
Drew Crandall is community engagement director of Danbury Proton.