Category Archives: town council

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?



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?



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.


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

The budget. Round One.

I need to get caught up on what’s happening with the budget so I won’t venture any opinions other than this: I know a fight is looming.

But I’m sure those who are paying attention would like a new thread that focuses on the issue, so here it is.

Here are some key documents, which I need to read:

Town manager’s proposed budget

School superintendent’s budget proposal

Town manager’s March 11 budget presentation

Budget in Brief

Capital Improvement Budget

I do have to give credit to our town officials for putting all this information online so that we can easily dig through it.

Property tax estimator


Filed under budget, Schools, town council

Davidoff the new minority leader

Leon Davidoff, who will become minority leader of the town council, is a complete unknown to me, and probably many others.

The Hartford Courant repors that he is “a veteran of the rough-and-tumble politics of neighboring Newington,” which is an odd qualification to help run West Hartford, but since we’re a welcoming sort of place, I don’t mind.

It is pleasing to see that the 45-year-old Davidoff, a store owner, wants to avoid the partisan craziness that can wreck a town. Good luck keeping Visconti in check, fella.

Steve Adler could have been minority leader — since he got the most votes among the Republicans who earned a seat — but let Davidoff have the job because of his Newington experience. That’s a class decision.

According to the Courant, “Davidoff sat on the town’s plan and zoning commission from 1999 to 2004, serving as chairman from 2001 to 2003” so he’s got a solid background to draw on.

I wish him luck. It looks like Davidoff and Adler will be able to work with the Democrats to make this town better. I hope Visconti can do more than throw verbal bombs.



Filed under Adler, Davidoff, Politics, town council, Visconti, West Hartford

So what will Visconti do now?

He didn’t even need my vote to capture one of the seats reserved for the losers. He snagged it anyway, no doubt to the dismay of the Democrats who will now have to deal with him all the time instead of just warring with him here.

One thing it will surely do is improve the TV ratings for town council meetings.


Filed under Politics, town council, Visconti

Election Night

I can’t post the results so I hope somebody can jump in here and let us know the burning question…. Did Joe Visconti go down in flames?

In the end, I have to admit, I couldn’t fill his bubble. I hemmed. I hawed. And, finally, I passed him by. I wound up voting for a couple of Republicans, but mostly Democrats, including all three of the Board of Education candidates. They impressed me.

I miss the old voting machines. Filling in bubbles reminds me of high school.


Filed under Board of Education, election, Politics, town council, West Hartford