If prayer is your health care…

you might be interested to know that there will be a rally for health care at Aetna (Farmington Ave) on Thursday February 7th at 3pm. I just received a call from the Working Families Party letting me know about this. The rally should last about an hour. I’ll be at work, unable to go to this, but would appreciate it if someone could go in my place.

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The HPD Gets With It

For people who like to bypass the news media entirely to get an idea of what’s going on, the Hartford Police Department website has been a source of frustration in past years because of their inconsistently updated announcements. The arrest blotter was nowhere to be found, and their press releases would be posted every few weeks, maybe. Well, now it seems they’ve gotten their act together because the arrest log is on their site (again?) and is, so far, updated every day. I think people should be informed of how many arrests occur in every town and city, so that the news reporting does not skew our sense of reality. As expected, many of the arrests are drug-related.

Of the arrests from yesterday, I think my favorite were panhandling and drinking in public. Is drinking alcohol in public really still a crime? Bad judgment, maybe, but criminal?

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Dear Random Men Near Barnard Park,

I have come to terms with the street harassment. Sort of. Here are the rules, now, just so you know.

If I’m walking by you, like I was today, and look exhausted, sweaty, and out of breath, then a “hello sexy” like I got would be okay. But, you must be at least 6 feet away from me if you say this, not make eye contact, and not follow me.

However, if you make disgusting grunting noises at me as I pass, as happened last summer, I will not be so tolerant. Don’t tell me to smile. Don’t ask me for money. Don’t stare.

Thanks for your cooperation. I don’t want to have to take the bus for a short 1.7 mile jaunt, and driving is less and less practical.

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Anti-War Resolution

For more information on the anti-war resolution going before Hartford City Council on Monday, check out Dave Ionno’s write-up at Undercurrents. You can also read the resolution draft there.

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Hartford and the War Zone

Item #9 on the City Council agenda for Monday January 28th:

HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES COMMITTEE, with accompanying resolution de

Recognition of Human and Fiscal costs to the City regarding the Wars in Iraq and

Afghanistan and provision of information for Council and the Public.

While everyone is cracking down on corrupt politicians, why not go after some of the worse offenders? Allocating funds for an unethical war deprives Americans. If it takes an appeal to economic concerns to stop this violent nonsense, so be it.

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Bells and Whistles of Government

I have this thing about what I call “spinning Jesus” websites. If you recall, there was an episode of The Simpsons in which Homer learns how to use the internet. He makes a website that has all kinds of rotating graphics circa 1994. It seems to be what children 10 and under might view as cool.

When I see a website that is supposed to be professional but includes anything scrolling on the page, I cringe. It seems to be way behind the times, nevermind tacky and in violation of every idea about graphic design. I’m not going to name every offender, but the City of Hartford Government site is one. They revamped their website recently; however, they still can’t shake that scrolling marquis or the vertical scrolling calendar. Seriously, these two things make the site appear as if a young child or someone whose computer knowledge ceased around 1995 designed it. This is America, where everyone is increasingly impatient and not going to wait for a slowly scrolling calendar. It’d be better to have an actual interactive calendar one can click on to find out what is happening on a given date.

One more thing– instead of having the rotating ad pictures of the mayor as the center of the page, why not make those pictures way at the bottom of the page, the ones of things in Hartford that are not politicians, featured photographs.

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Easier Access to Amsterdam

I regret that I’m a few days behind on this one, but Mayor Perez released his goals for improving transportation in a commentary piece that ran in the Courant last week (1/13/08). The highlight of the essay:

We need to link commuter rail, Amtrak and access to Bradley International Airport. People should be
able to take the train from Union Station in Hartford to the airport.

For that matter, they should be able to take the train from New Haven or Springfield to get to Bradley.
Thinking bigger still: People who use Bradley to fly to and from Amsterdam should be able to simply
hop on a high-speed train going to Boston or New York, avoiding the traffic congestion of those larger

This caught my attention because I’m thinking about taking a trip to Amsterdam in the summer, and have been thinking about the logistics of getting to and from the airport. It’s much simpler to be dropped off at Union Place–a five minute drive from my place–than to be dropped off at Bradley, or have to pay to leave my car at the airport.

In a time when gas prices are rising and we’re seeing the results of reckless transportation, it makes sense to work harder to improve public transportation. The New Britain-Hartford rapid transit busway isn’t scheduled to start operation until 2012. That seems like a really long time to accomplish this. Hopefully, Perez will begin to be more specific as to how this other transportation will be improved, including a realistic time table.

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Email Can Slip Out From Behind Closed Doors


Well, classic for the internet age.

John Rose, Jr. sent an email intended for Carl Nasto to Kevin Brookman. The Courant has a write-up on this. What relevance does this have?

Rose was criticized recently in another FOIA case against the city in which a group of Hartford’s small businesses were seeking data from the city assessor. In a settlement of that case, Rose admitted to having violated the section of the FOIA requiring a prompt response to requests.

You know, because Rose, like others with power, are apparently above the law.

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Urban Winter Wonderland

snowy tree on alden street 1/14/08
One of my favorite blogs, Urban Pantheist, shines light on the idea that a nature-lover need not feel uprooted when living in the city. Obviously, a city will have fewer trees than a forest, but the belief that cities are devoid of all life is simply wrong. There are trees, growing freely, and wildlife. For me, living in a place without nature would be the deal-breaker.

There are about 20 unusual species of trees growing in Hartford. Bushnell Park even has the offspring of an historical tree, under which I’ve eaten a few popsicles while people-watching.

The park that I live near originally had greenhouses and a deer park on the grounds. They are in the process of planning new gardens at Colt Park, which stretches from Wethersfield Avenue almost to Charter Oak Landing.

Speaking of Charter Oak Landing, I’ve seen a number of animals down there, including hawks on the trails. I’ve also seen hawks on trails heading North from Riverside Park. This shouldn’t be surprising since the Connecticut River is right there, and the wooded area surrounding it houses meals for hawks. I’ve also seen Peregrine Falcons and Bald Eagles, not to mention more common birds and animals like coyote, fox, deer, chipmunk, squirrel, raccoon, woodchuck, crow, and swan.

Even with humans getting in the way of progress, wildlife can still thrive, or at least adapt better than we can.

Still, there’s a need to clean up after ourselves. A year ago it was announced that the Hartford landfill would be closing by the end of 2008. The landfill is on Leibert Road, in the city’s north end. The hope is that increased recycling will help to make this transition easier. Right now, the City of Hartford does not accept as many recyclables as other towns do. Hebron, for example, will recycle antifreeze, motor oil, telephone books, clothes, tires, and scrap metal, which Hartford won’t even touch. Things that some other towns recycle that Hartford has not begun to: paperback books, food trays, leaves, car batteries, eyeglasses, electronics, packing “peanuts”, block styrofoam, lead acid batteries, appliances, shoes, rechargeable batteries, and oil filters. So, the technology exists for a lot more to be recycled than just newspapers, corrugated cardboard, jars, aluminum cans, and junkmail. When politicians talk about their dreams for Hartford, I’d like to hear more about composting and recycling, and reducing the amount of garbage here through encouraging restaurants to use reusable utensils.

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Winter Weather?

A public service announcement for people who seem to have forgotten what needs to be done when lots of snow falls:

-Don’t force all employees to leave at once. It puts many more people on the road at once, increasing gridlock and risk of accident, not to mention road rage

-Send out sand trucks and snow plows

-Take care of the sidewalks. Many people don’t rely on vehicles to get around. Others need clear sidewalks for wheelchairs. Whether or not it’s a legal requirement to clear the sidewalks, I don’t know, and really, I don’t care. This is about being a decent human being. If the city can spend money clearing graffiti, they can spend some on making sidewalks accessible.

-Businesses should be kind and allow residents to use their lots when there are parking bans in effect. When people leave their cars on the street, it interferes with snow clean up. Ever wonder how those rock-solid ice chunks end up in the street? Be a good neighbor.

-If the roads are busy and in bad shape, send out a few cops to direct traffic.

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