Seeking contributors

It’s increasingly obvious to me that this little blog is serving a badly needed role in West Hartford as a place where issues can be raised, discussed and maybe eventually resolved (though we’ll see about the latter!). It’s really more than I can handle in a few minutes now and again, which is what I envisioned when I started out.

What would help it out most, for now anyway, would be to add a few more people who could write some pieces for this, to make sure the blog keeps up with the news and to offer appropriate topics to talk about.

You don’t need to match my politics. You only need to have a willingness to jump in and write some stuff occasionally.

I can’t pick everybody for this, but I’d sure like to have a few, particularly since I’ll be away sometimes over the summer.

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13 Comments

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13 responses to “Seeking contributors

  1. For what its worth, Whdad, KUDOS TO YOU. You certainly provide a valuable service for residents to provide their opinions. And you are a very fair moderator – of course, we only see what you allow, and not what you don’t allow. And clearly, you permit a degree of discourse that ranges from facts and questions to useless sarcasm (hehe, not mentioning any names). So I’m guessing that for the most part you err on the side of a fairly open forum.

    You put out some thought provoking posts, step back, and then the opinions flow (or the fireworks start). If you find a few co-authors to work with – I hope they take your approach on things and carry your style forward.

    And keep throwing in the “soft” topics now and then (like the Elmwood Tree post), I think they diffuse the heat on the blog, give us opportunities to find consensus, have fun, and perhaps find some humanity in each other that we don’t see in budget posts.

  2. Osemasterofdoom

    I’ll volunteer to help out, if you think it would be helpful. Maybe it would work to have “guest moderators” for weeks you are away, or just to give you a break. This is an incredibly valuable and educational forum, mostly for the reasons The King described above. Just let me know and I will jump on board.

  3. itnocsiV oeJ

    Can I grammar check posts while your away???? can I Dad, can I?????

  4. itnocsiV eoJ

    oops spelled my name wrong, wrong

  5. TWC

    I suppose if I’m going to go around publicly promoting this blog, and telling everyone I know to add their views to the valuable discussions that take place here, I should be willing to step up to the plate and help out where I can.

    So if you’re looking for a fiscally & socially conservative economic-populist environmentalist peacenik view on the West Harford issues of the day from a dad wih 3 kids, count me in. (I’m also a web technologist and could probably help you out on that front as well.)

    By the way, I think what you are proposing has become very common on the web and is defined in Wikepedia as collaborative blogging. However, please note the primary disadvantage mentioned here regarding this type of blogging:

    While most Invite Only collaborative blogs consist of a small number of like-minded bloggers it is often the case that individuals within the group differ in opinion on divisive issues (i.e. abortion or the War on Terror). While in-fighting on these blogs can make for interesting reading it can sometimes become a problem.

    I don’t know if that has to be the case on this blog, but it is probably something you should consider and try to address before you share your key to this blog.

  6. Joe Visconti

    Conflicts on the blog? ya we got that, but it never gets too nuts, mostly just before a referendum.

    What most don’t realize is that the town Charter reads for a certain % of the voters to sign petitons for a referendum. The % comes from God knows where but it must be like fishing, you hook just the gill/mouth portion of the fish (less than 2% of body weight) and you drag the whole fish in the boat. The percentage of voters either 5% for Budget, 7% for Blue Back stuff and 10% for Charter revision are the benchmarks that get the ball rolling. Although many democrats and liberals in Town get mad at the referendums over the last 3 years-(5 I believe) they must realize that these referendums come because there is really only one controlling Party in Town, making all decisons for everyone. Eventually with all the Yes men, like credit card purchases, the debt mounts over time, Politically speaking and then the Democratic Majority wonders why the referendums? It is because there is a lack of minority representation in Town Government which transfers to the people and so the true second Political Party in town by defacto is those who can bring referendums. I am one of those who can bring referendums, but not becuse of persona but because the Public wants them. Other Groups have done the same and will continue to until there is balance restored to Town Politics.
    Welcome to the Blog

  7. Elmwoodian

    However, there is a strong argument to be made that with referenda, you risk circumventing the will of the “people,” who cast their vote for the currently sitting representatives in the general elections each November.

    I agree that governing institutions work better when there is a strong minority voice. But with the relatively low turnout requirements for referenda in this town, a relatively small but vocal and organized minority motivated enough, and available to come out to a vote in mid-June–just when many parents are busy with end-of-the-school-year activities–gets to arguably overturn a vote of a much larger, more representative, sample of the people.

    We have a representative democracy partially because most folks don’t want to come out to vote every couple months, but rather want to cast their vote each November and task their chosen representatives with the burdens of governance. If they are unhappy with the results then they get to press their will the next November.

    Don’t get me wrong, referenda do have their place, but they should be considered as an “in emergency, break glass” option. (See: California). I think that if the people want to change a decision of their chosen representatives mid-stream, then a larger sample should be required than at present. Otherwise, doesn’t that give the minority far more than simply a strong voice, but rather the ability to organize and circumvent the representative democratic process simply because they disagree with their representatives?

    P.S.
    In and interview on the News Hour this week, Schwarzenegger even admitted that he was using referenda far too often in his disputes with the Democratic majority in the CA congress and is now reaching across the aisle instead, as it should be.

  8. Joe Visconti

    Ya but Arnold has access to power being the Governor and all. So many are upset at the Charter and the power it grants to those/these malcontents, but they must have figured if that many people are upset then it beats a revolution. Absolute power corrupts absolutley, thats why we have referenda power, Power to the people but only when Government moves in the wrong direction not every day of the week.
    Your argument that parents are busy during the end of the year is lame because that is when parents get the message through the media and are in drop off kids mode and near voting booths more than any other time of the year ( non election year).
    This year parents became fed up with the high costs of everything and if they couldnt vote no, they oppted out of voting. There will not be a second referendum because this is an election year and if the council doesn’t axe appropriatley their out.

  9. EJ

    Elmwoodian, your point on a referendum subverting elected officials, is a valid point.

    But, the power of referendum protects the electorate when those elected stop acting in the interest of the voters.

    In this case, the margin was large enough that there is little doubt that the people are not happy with the budget and taxes in this town.

  10. Elmwoodian

    The point I was trying to make is that I’m not sure that the “people” were represented in the referendum vote. Sure, the margin was large, but only relative to total turnout, not as compared to the turnout when the current Council was elected. There was a difference of over 6000 voters, or 35%, between the referendum and the 2005 municipal elections.

    According to the official vote tally from 2005, Mayor Slifka alone had slightly less votes (about 10k) than the entire turnout for the referendum. In fact, every Democrat on the BOE and the Council, not counting Verrengia, had more votes in 2005 than those that voted No on the current budget.

    If we are going to take the emergency measure of overturning the votes of our elected officials, shouldn’t we expect/require the same turnout numbers as when those officials were elected in order to ratify such a drastic move?

  11. EJ

    Considering that there was a 30% voter turn out for the referendum I don’t think your point holds up.

    Next time you will have to get more voters off their couches. You might very well have your chance depending on what happens this week

  12. Elmwoodian

    29.4%, but who’s counting? To be sure, it’s not nothing; as referenda go, a lot of people showed up. However, that’s compared to 44% for the munis in ’05. That 14-16% is a pretty big difference as turnout goes–and in this case, it could have more than made the difference b/t Y & N. And, I think that the difference belies the notion that the 6/12 was a true vote of the “people.”

    As a rule, I’m just not a big fan of using the referendum (and I’ve lived in towns where I was in the minority) unless it requires a much larger % to ratify–1/3 (33%) at the very least. It just seems to me that as an emergency procedure it is laudable, but if you have low ratification requirements, it can easily be (ab)used as a tool for a minority to get what it wasn’t able to achieve in the general election.

    Moreover, I think that there is really a strong argument to be made that a much larger representation already voted on the budget back in ’05 by electing the current officials.

    Think about it:
    Most of us would agree that the budget is pretty much the single most important vote the Council has every year. In fact, the average WH voter going to the polls probably knows little about what duties the Council has other than setting the budget.

    So, given the above, it can be reasonably said that the voters knew what they were getting, budget-wise, as 8 of the 9 who won in ’05 were were already sitting on the Council and had set past budgets. (and you can’t say that the voters didn’t know that revaluation was coming by then.)

    And, in 2005, a much larger majority of the electors in town voted for the sitting representatives–who set this defeated budget–than those who voted against the budget at the referendum on 6/12.

    So, what I’m trying to say is that I think that there is a legitimate argument that WH already voted on this, and that a 29.4% turnout overturned a 44% turnout, which just doesn’t sit right.

    Oh well, this is all academic at this point. The budget defeat is a fact. So, who’s going to be our new volunteer superintendent? (Put your hand down Joe) 😉

    P.S.: E.J, I doubt that those eligible voters who did not vote on 6/12 were resting their duffs on the couch, but rather were working them off in their various responsibilities as dads, moms, employees, bosses, students, business owners, etc. (and, if they were on their couches, they earned the right to do so without having to go out and vote 3 times/year). (Uch, OK, OK, I’m done. I swear. Fire away!)

  13. Con Watch

    Well, let’s see, for the right/radical right we have:

    Joseph Visconti’s Blog
    West Hartford’s newly elected Town Councilor Joe Visconti’s blog

    Consent of the Governed
    West Hartford Taxpayers Association consort Judy Aron’s blog

    The King’s View
    right-wing rabble-rouser’s blog

    Talk of West Hartford
    new blog instantaneously plugged by “Libertarian Guerilla” Whatshername of the Hartford Advocate

    West Hartford Taxpayers Association
    website for “non-partisan” organization headed by Theresa McGrath of the hard right Yankee Institute

    Radiofree West Hartford
    talk radio on the web

    For the moderate right:

    N/A

    For the “You don’t need to match my politics” center/liberal left:

    The West Hartford Blog
    in a holding pattern

    West Hartford Citizens for Peace & Justice
    peace & justice website

    For the left:

    N/A

    This has been a public service announcement of Con Watch.

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