Category Archives: News

CAPT scores up across the board

It’s nice to see that West Hartford’s sophomores raised their scores in every category this year over last year’s performance.

Here’s the results:

MATH – 59.3 percent at goal this year compared to 56.8 last year

SCIENCE – 64.6 at goal this year compared to 63.9 last year

READING – 64 at goal this year compared to 62 last year

WRITING – 69.8 at goal this year compared to 68.3 last year

In terms of proficiency, a lower standard…

MATH – 88.5 percent this year compared to 86.9 last year

SCIENCE – 92.4 this year compared to 90.3 last year

READING – 91.1 this year compared to 87.9 last year

WRITING – 93.8 this year compared to 90.7 last year

I know the results can fluctuate year to year because classes differ, but it’s still good to see that in every major category, West Hartford students improved.

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Filed under education, News, Schools, West Hartford

Hey mister, buy me a beer?

Years ago, long before my life turned to mowing grass and hanging curtains, I went to a cinema brewhouse where you could watch a bad movie and get soused at the same time. I dimly recall a bunch of drunken college students hooting at “Blue Lagoon” but perhaps that was at a plain old theater. Honestly, some brain cells didn’t survive the beating of that era.

But I got to thinking about it because our Town Council is weighing whether to allow the sale of liquor at the new Bow Tie Cinemas in the still freshly painted Blue Back Square development.

The draft ordinance that officials are considering “would allow theaters such as Criterion (which owns Bow Tie) to serve beer and wine under a cafe permit,” according to The West Hartford News.

The paper said that Planning and Zoning Commission Chair Jeffrey Daniels “said he believes the ordinance as it is currently written is missing language that could prevent children under the age of 21 – the audience to which many of Criterion’s films are targeted – from accessing liquor in the theater.”

“It is possible to control access, and when you control access, you reduce misuse. There’s a lot of best practice that tells you that. I’m saying this ordinance doesn’t even look at this. It just puts a blind eye to it,” Daniels told the weekly.

One alternative is to have a designated drinking section inside the theater.

Even that, though, may not be enough to let the proposed law pass muster.

“The concern is that someone is going to go into the theater and pull what they called in my day a ‘Hey, Mister,’” Mayor Scott Slifka said, according to the paper.

Lord knows that young people in West Hartford are resourceful enough to get hold of beer and win without resorting to whispers in the dark of a movie theater, as any of them will freely admit to any adult who is not their parent.

But that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a wise idea to tap the kegs and bring out the corkscrews at the local cinema.

It’s kind of a sad commentary on our community’s adults, not our kids, if the theater can’t thrive without serving up alcohol to ease the burden of sitting through most of the crap that passes for movies these days.

While it’s probably true that “Hancock” would seem a little less dumb after a six pack, that just doesn’t seem reason enough to expand once again the vices that most reasonable people would like to see a little less of rather than exposing everyone to more.

What’s next? Slot machines in the lobby?

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Filed under News, town council, West Hartford

Vacuuming up the leaves

Is there anything more ridiculous than the West Hartford Taxpayers Association?

It demands that we cut, cut, cut and then, when cuts are made, it screams NO! NOT THAT!

For Judy Aron, its vice president, to tell The Hartfor Courant that eliminating curbside leaf  vacuum truck pickup is “a direct hit on our senior citizens” is both silly and stupid.

To use it as justification for seeking another budget vote is so stunningly obtuse that I can’t believe even this group could make the argument.

First off, the vacuum pickup is a luxury that most towns don’t do. We’re constantly told by people like Aron that we can’t afford these extra anymore, but when one is cut, she howls. Give me a break.

Even more than that, though, is the simple reality that the service should be stopped. Why should the town go around sucking up leaves? It’s far better that they get bagged and hauled off instead of blowing all over the neighborhood, clogging up storm drains, and presenting potentially deadly piles for children to hide in IN THE STREET. Plus I won’t miss the whirring noise of the damn things on otherwise delightful autumn days.

Anyway, Judy, your credibility is shot now.

The town made a reasonable decision on how to save some money without hurting the community. It’s a harship for some, sure, though I don’t think the elderly are taking a bigger hit than anyone else on it. Perhaps it’s just that you want the cuts to hurt only the children?

 

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Filed under budget, education, News, Schools, town council, Town government, West Hartford

The budget debacle

There’s something seriously wrong if taxpayers have gunned two straight budgets by wide margins.

So what is it?

One could argue that the problem is that town leaders are simply trying to spend more money than residents are willing to support. This clearly has some truth to it, but it’s simplistic.

Another alternative is that people are struggling financially and, given the choice, are going to try to lower what bills they can. Again, there’s truth in that. None of us want to pay more, particularly when the cost of everything seems to be rising a whole lot faster than paychecks.

But I think the real reason that the budgets are getting clobbered is that we generally don’t feel as if we are getting the information we need before we agree to pay so much more. Sure, the town puts budget information online, but it’s presented in a way that only an accountant could love. And nowhere do we get simple data on the questions people are always asking – how much do employees make? What kind of health care do they get and how much do they pay? What kind of pensions are we handing out and how much does that cost each year? And on the education side, we really want to see much more, because it does seem preposterous that the charges go up so much every year while student numbers stay relatively stable. Explain that to us, please, in painstaking detail.

I’m a supporter of the schools, a backer of the budget, a yes voter to my core. But I’m also confused and upset that my neighbors have so many questions and there are so few answers. Relying on us to trust our elected leaders obviously isn’t enough to get a spending plan passed.

Give us some help, town council members. Let’s delve into the details, school board members. Make it possible for those who want to see the required spending supported to sell skeptical friends, neighbors and others.

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Filed under budget, education, News, Schools, town council, Town government, West Hartford

Abandon town manager form of government?

The town government’s entire structure could be overturned.

At least some politicians are seriously talking about the possibility of throwing out the town manager form of government that has guided West Hartford for years in favor of a system that relies on a strong mayor.

The motives behind the discussion are murky but at least part of the reason for the proposed shift is the growing difficulty of hiring people with the expertise and experience to run a municipality.

Another reason, I’m told, is that West Hartford’s finances may not be as solid as they were for a long time. The town’s AAA credit rating may not withstand the next recession.

I don’t think the talk is spurred by someone’s political ambitions, but that’s always a possibility. It would mean a lot more to be mayor if the position wielded real power at town hall.

I’m curious what others are hearing. This would be a gigantic change and if it’s something that officials are talking about, the rest of us ought to be included in the conversation.

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Filed under News, town manager, West Hartford

What’s up with West Hartford’s closets?

I’m sort of afraid to peer too deeply into that funny old closet beside my dryer that I can’t open because the machine’s in the way.

After all, police found a kidnapped girl living in a closet under the stairs in a house in Elmwood not long ago. And now we find out that a doctor who lived on Griswold Drive left a cache of child porn slides and films featuring his young patients, paperboys and anyone else he could photograph.

Imagine buying your dream house — a typical old place in town that requires way too much renovation and upkeep — and when you start ripping down some ugly old thing in the basement, a flood of perversion falls all over your floor. Fun times, eh?

Anyway, I’m officially proclaiming a moratorium on opening old closets in West Hartford. They’re like Pandora’s Box. You just don’t know what you’ll find.

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Filed under closets, News, Public safety, West Hartford

Dodd, Obama score most West Hartford donations

The Washington Post helpfully breaks down presidential fundraising by town, so we can see who’s getting what from West Hartford donors.  

Third Quarter 2007 & 2007 Fundraising by Candidate

Candidate Q3 2007 Overall
Chris Dodd $5,752 $104,352
Barack Obama $5,039 $36,032
Hillary Rodham Clinton $2,360 $6,760
John Edwards $1,250 $7,450
Bill Richardson $1,000 $1,500
Joe Biden $0 $500
Fred Thompson $1,250 $1,250
John McCain $1,030 $1,830
Rudy Giuliani $900 $1,150
Mitt Romney $80 $1,056
Jim Gilmore $0 $500
Duncan Hunter $0 $250

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Filed under Clinton, Dodd, fundraising, News, Obama, West Hartford