Monthly Archives: August 2006

Block parties unblocked

Today’s story in the Courant about Mayor Slifka’s success in reversing a new policy by public works to cease delivering sawhorses and signs when streets are closed off for West Hartford’s many wonderful block parties raises one big question: where was the story telling us about the policy change when it happened? Who made the decision to change the policy and why? How come the news never got out? We have newspapers and we have a town email system that many of us are on to get periodic notices about what’s happening in West Hartford and what’s up at town hall.

If officials want to scale back what government does, include us in that decision. The mayor shouldn’t have to scramble around to reverse a policy that changes long-standing practice. As a town, we should make those kinds of decision openly and honestly, then stick to them when the heat gets turned up.

Scott Slifka did a good job. But somewhere at town hall, someone didn’t.

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Filed under Politics, Town government

Better TV coming to Hartford “very soon”

The Owner of Rattlesnake Mountain antenna complex, Arnold Chase, weighs in with good news for television fans:

If you look at the tower, you will see it has been rigged by the tower crew, and the long awaited tower project is FINALLY underway!
They are currently increasing the size of the guy cables, and they will then remove the Channel 61 analog antenna and replace it with the new candelabra assembly resulting in full power 61DT, 20DT, and 24DT signals (as well as a new CH 24 analog signal) very soon.

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Disappointing CMT scores

Every sane person knows that the No Person Left Behind testing mania is merely going to prove, in the long run, how difficult it is to educate the most difficult children. They’ll be the youngsters growing up in poverty, with shattered homes and shattered lives all about them. Finding a way to help them learn enough to show proficiency at math, reading, writing and any other subject is going to be quite a chore.

I’m not sorry that we, as a nation, are trying to make certain every student succeeds. But we are fooling ourselves if we think that’s possible. All we can do is try ever harder.

So I can live with testing, though I wish there was less of it.

It does help us see that students in West Hartford aren’t doing as well as they should. This is a rich town with solid schools. The kids here, with some exceptions, are blessed with abundance. I’m concerned that they are using that wealth to master computer games, improve their soccer playing and watch plenty of movies that exceed their emotional depth instead of buckling down to secure the education they’ll need not just to do well as adults but to thrive someday.

This town should have higher scores than it does. We all know that.

And we ought to start asking ourselves why they aren’t better. From what I can see, it’s not the schools that are failing. It’s all of us.

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Filed under Schools

Cluttered inbox… yes, absolutely.

There’s actually something called the Center for Internet Behavior right here in West Hartford, which keeps psychologist Dave Greenfield busy, though I can’t help thinking he’s sitting in his pajamas and surfing the net for the lyrics of old rock ‘n roll songs as I write.

In any case, Greenfield told The Wall Street Journal that your inbox is a reflection of you.

“If you keep your inbox full rather than empty, it may mean you keep your life cluttered in other ways,” he told the paper. “Do you cling to the past? Do you have a lot of unfinished business in your life?”

Actually, Dave, I just don’t have time to weed through it. But I suppose that’s everyone’s excuse for piling up thousands of emails that there’s no earthly reason to save.

It is interesting, though, that Greenfield’s got an organization in place that lets him spout off about the Internet to any reporter who comes calling. I might like that, too. I can babble with the best of them.

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Filed under Public safety, Schools

Year-round school?

The longer summer vacation goes on, the more I think it’s time to extend the school year. It would improve their academics, ease the burden on working families and keep the kids out of trouble. They’re not needed on the farm anymore. It’s time to keep them in the classroom longer.

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Police contract sounds lucrative

I’m willing to believe the Courant’s story left out too much information to be truly useful, but on first glance, it seems like the new 7-year contract for cops is awfully generous. They get as much as 3.75 raises in the last year — which is a lot more than anyone I know is getting — and their work schedule changes so they wind up with something like 20 fewer work days each year, if my math is correct (please, someone, if that’s not right, explain what is correct!).

While it’s true they’ll pay a bit more for future pensions and will need to work 25 years rather than 20 before collecting pensions, it’s still a pretty sweet gig, even if it’s one I wouldn’t do for twice the money.

My impression is that West Hartford has an awful lot of officers for a town its size. I’m sure we have more than comparable communities in terms of population, even though most of the other towns our size have intrinsically more crime because they’re poorer. I’m not sure if I think we have too many officers or not.

What I do know is that being a cop in West Hartford is a good job with good pay. Perhaps that’s why most of the officers I’ve run across in town are also pretty good public servants.

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Filed under Public safety, Town government

About the primary

I thought Joe Lieberman’s last-minute surge would put him over the top, but it didn’t.

The senator came up short, but close enough that he could justify to himself and many supporters that he should stay in the race until November. In retrospect, he must have decided days earlier that if he fell a bit short, he’d keep going. If he got clobbered, he’d have quit.

Is Lieberman doing the right thing? I’m not sure.

I get calls from old friends who are thrilled that Lieberman lost. In other states, the race was simply a referendum on the war. If that’s what it was, I’d have voted for Lamont, too. But it was about so much more, including the quality of the man who wants to take Lieberman’s place in the Senate.

I am not ready to say I’ll support the Democratic candidate in this contest. I am not blindly partisan. I vote for Republicans sometimes, too, though never for president — at least not yet.

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Filed under Politics