An interesting experiment in variations in perception is to watch a lot of news, read online comments on certain forums, and then go to a public hearing at City Hall before a City Council meeting.
From the evening news, the message presented is that gun violence and Jared Kupiec have been Hartford’s largest challenges this summer. Online trolling tells nearly the same story, with an occasional dig at former mayor Eddie Perez.
But last Monday in City Hall, the residents who came to speak their minds had other concerns.
One resident said, “I pick up garbage. . . if I see anyone throwing garbage I talk to them.” But one person’s litter removal, she suggested, does not make up for what she viewed as inefficient trash collection. She said that she would see two garbage trucks sent to her street at once, with trash still left behind.
Along with perennial complaints about trash collection, some residents complained about graffiti and posters. Hyacinth Yennie commented that the posters plastered all over poles is something unseen in the suburbs. Councilperson Jennings vowed to do something about this because when decorative lamp posts are damaged, the warranty is voided.
Another resident called for installation of speed bumps. This is an issue that has provoked ire from some in the past who have held the opinion that certain neighborhoods, like the West End, are quick to receive speed bumps, while streets elsewhere remain virtual racetracks.
These were not the only quality of life concerns aired before last Monday’s City Council meeting. Virginia Iacobucci, former owner of La Paloma Sabanera, got applause when she spoke about how hard it is to run a small business when the landlord does not care for the property. As has been consistent with this issue, the City Council initially washed their hands of it, with Councilperson Kennedy saying, “We don’t have legislative authority from the State” to change the tax structure or fines related to landlords who intentionally allow rentals to remain empty in order to get a tax deduction. Councilperson Deutsch showed more interest in the matter by asking for clarification of what Iacobucci wanted — higher taxation for buildings left vacant for too long. Another resident added support on this issue, saying that “small businesses create and enhance community.”
Another equally complex and solvable concern brought before the Council was that of how Hartford could respond to the racial disparities in the prison population. This resident said that for the state of Connecticut, Hartford has the highest number of its residents incarcerated. He said he “would love to see Hartford establish an Office for Prison Reentry.” Hartford currently does not have such an office established.
Of those speaking during the public comment period, only once was public safety mentioned.
If you live in Hartford, what do you see as issues the City Council could be more proactive about?