Monthly Archives: September 2006

Goodbye, Crooked John Rowland. Middlebury can have you.

The news that our corrupt ex-governor’s wife has purchased a $525,000 house in Middlebury is a good development. It means that John Rowland will be moving out of West Hartford and moving on to Middlebury. We don’t want his kind ’round here anyway.
I’m glad I’ve never run into him at the grocery store or something.

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What will become of The Hartford Courant?

There’s trouble afoot at the historic Courant. It’s not just that it’s replaced a generation of great journalists with a crew of reporters who can barely write the language — though that’s a problem — it’s that the paper has come under scrutiny from the bean counters in Chicago, Los Angeles and Wall Street. Its fat profits aren’t quite enough to satisfy the greedy bastards who own papers nowadays.

So what’s going to happen? Well, the Courant may be sold.

Whether newspapers have a future in Connecticut may depend on who buys it. All you have to do is look at what’s happened to the other papers in the state that got swallowed up by even worse media chains. Look at how the Journal Register Co., for example, has ransacked the papers it bought in the state a decade ago. They’re all heading for the trash heap at an astonishing rate. The Courant could join them.

I’d like to see the paper snapped up by the Chase family, which has proven itself as a champion of the community over the years, or bought by its employees, as Colin McEnroe suggested, or perhaps we could try something truly novel: The paper’s readers could buy it. Let’s say it’s worth $200 million, to keep the math simple, and that it has 100,000 readers. If each reader paid $200, he could own 1/100,000th of the paper, with the understanding that the paper would be run for its readers, not to make a profit but to deliver the news as effectively as possible for as long as possible, without losing money.

Think about that. It could happen.

And there’s nothing to stop the idea from spreading to other papers, too. I bet that readers of The Herald in New Britain or the Journal-Inquirer in Manchester or The West Hartford News would pay something extra in their subscriptions if it meant they’d actually own the paper forevermore.

I know there are probably lots of legal complications and practical issues involved. But it can be done — and it’s worth considering. It’s not enough just to preserve the Courant. We also need to save it.

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I still don’t see how Lamont can win

The most surprising part of today’s Q Poll is that Lieberman is only up 49-39, though that’s enough. I guess a few diehards must still say they’ll vote for Alan Schlesinger, but with every passing week, his failure to gain traction makes it less likely he’ll get more than a smattering of votes. Republicans would be crazy to risk a Lamont win when they know Lieberman is at least sometimes on their side of key votes.

The simple math dictates that Lieberman will win. He’ll clearly get at least half the independents and most of the Republicans. He’ll probably get at least 25-35 percent of Democrats, too, and possibly more. After all, many Democrats are conservative and nearly all of them have voted for Lieberman before. That’s half the electorate right there — enough to win.

How can Lamont make inroads? Well, he can’t win the GOP votes at all. And he probably can’t cut into Lieberman’s thinning Democratic ranks much more. So he has to find a way to appeal to the independents who are naturally sympathetic to an independent candidate who’s known for his bipartisanship. And I don’t see how Lamont can do it, despite funny commercials ripping into Joe.

I hate President Bush as much as anyone. He’s been awful in every possible way. I wish Lieberman shared my view, of course, but I still haven’t seen a good reason to throw him out of office instead of sending him back to help shape a Democratic future that has to include mainstream America, not just the starry-eyed idealists of the left.

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Starting high schools a little later

The half-assed compromise worked out by a divided Board of Education strikes me as worse than doing nothing, though I hope I’m wrong. Why should we pay an extra $200,000 a year so that two bus runs can take kids to school? If first periods are to become little more than study halls, why does anyone need to go in? And if there are going to be real classes right off the bat, then it’s inherently unfair to those who have to take them while others get to sleep in.

The details are everthing, of course, and we don’t know much about them.

By the way, as an aside, the school board should do a much better job of posting information on the town’s website. All of this stuff should be there in great detail so that geeky taxpayers like me can read it.

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If only we had a tabloid in town…

Since I’m about as well-connected as leaky faucet, I’m sure thousands of other West Hartford residents have heard the same rumor that reached my ears the other day about … how to put this delicately… extra-curricular affairs between certain prominent figures. I think that’s vague enough while being reasonably clear to those who have heard the talk.

Now I don’t really care who’s doing what to whom, as long as children are neither involved nor likely to have their lives turned upside down by childish adults. But I do worry as a taxpayer if public officials are putting us at risk of a big old lawsuit by acting in ways that some could construe as improper with people who work for them.

And, no, I won’t be more specific because I have no personal knowledge of any of this. It’s just hearsay and that’s not enough evidence on which to say more.

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Music’s in the air… in West Hartford

The depressing story in today’s Hartford Courant about Bulkeley High School shutting down virtually its entire music program got me thinking about how stunning it is that West Hartford is so blessed musically.

While other schools close down music and art — seen as extras that are expendable — West Hartford’s commitment to superior arts and music education hasn’t wavered. We’re so lucky to have the jazz bands at the high schools, art that is amazing and even good bands at the elementary schools. It’s a town that’s firmly supporting the proposition that music and the arts are just as important as English, math or football. Well, football doesn’t even compare here, does it?

It’s a travesty, really, that that Bulkeley’s priorities are so messed up. It shouldn’t be allowed to close down the programs, because doing so just shuts out one more thread that connects its students to a wider, better world than the one so many of them have at home.

But it’s comforting to know, too, that West Hartford remains a place that’s filled with the sound of music.

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