Category: political b.s.

Policy Delay a Sign of Responsiveness?

By , January 30, 2014 3:50 pm

Governor Malloy issued a letter to the Performance Evaluation Advisory Council on Tuesday urging more “flexibility” and a delay regarding the planned changes to teacher evaluations. There was no mention of delaying or canceling the standardized testing in March; those tests are central to this issue.

This relieves stress for many of those directly affected by the policy that was pushed through in 2012, but some in the media are playing this off as politicians merely being responsive to constituents. Although the current standardized testing does not encourage this, let’s apply some critical thinking and see what evidence leads us to believe. Continue reading 'Policy Delay a Sign of Responsiveness?'»

Lame Duck Superintendent Pushing Again to Hand Over Clark and SAND

By , January 2, 2014 9:35 am

A scene from inside Milner at Jumoke Academy, the one Hartford school that is currently part of the Commissioner’s Network

Mayor Segarra and the Board of Education could intervene any time to stop outgoing Superintendent Kishimoto from pushing an agenda that the community has loudly spoken against. They could urge her to focus on addressing the actual concerns that School Governance Councils want addressed at their respective schools. Instead, residents continue to scratch their heads over how someone whose contract was not renewed could stay on for an entire school year and wield power after being slammed on her own performance review, which incidentally, was the only review the Board of Education officially conducted for her.

In November, parents said “No” to the proposal to toss SAND School to a newly formed private management company linked to Capital Prep Magnet School’s principal, Steve Perry. Just days before that, Clark School parents said “No” to the plan to hand the public school over to the Achievement First charter school chain.

Opponents of public schooling have framed this as a grand conspiracy led by unionists; while the teacher’s union has had involvement, it has been minimal, which is plain to anyone who has been paying attention. Parents have been leading the fight against disrupting their children’s educations by closing schools.

Now, Superintendent Kishimoto is pushing for Clark and SAND to become part of the Commissioner’s Network; Continue reading 'Lame Duck Superintendent Pushing Again to Hand Over Clark and SAND'»

Constituents Sold Out in “Agreement” on Flower Street

By , May 9, 2013 12:03 am

Van Norden, making an appearance to read a letter

Following the latest hearing at the Connecticut Department of Transportation, one community member asked, “How much does Hartford’s Deputy Corporation Counsel Van Norden get paid to do nothing more than show up and read straight from a letter the Mayor wrote?”

The same could be asked of all ConnDOT representatives, aside from Judith Almeida, the Department of Transportation’s staff attorney and only employee appearing prepared for Wednesday evening’s first of two Flower Street Closing reconsideration hearings.

How could anyone have been prepared to respond to the City of Hartford’s 180° pulled minutes before the beginning of the hearing? This reversal, issued by Mayor Segarra, has been viewed by some in the community as a betrayal to residents and businesses, as a show of spinelessness, and one more poor decision in a stream of recent questionable choices.

In late April, officials from the City met with residents and stakeholders to discuss how to best move forward with the situation. The majority view was to keep pushing back against the DOT and not settle. This is what was supposed to be relayed back to Mayor Segarra: the neighborhood won’t settle. It wants to fight.

The few who did think having some settlement between the City and the DOT was a practical option insisted on having everything drawn up in writing to give it teeth. If it were to settle, the City, as of April, was going to include in its demands having the DOT commit to spend $30 million on Capitol Avenue improvements, look at making Sigourney Street safer for cyclists, alter State policies regarding affordable housing in Hartford, and more.

Throughout that meeting, the consensus was that nobody wanted a $6 million ramp built over the busway that would likely need to be removed in a few years when the viaduct is removed.

What also emerged in that meeting was the deep distrust everyone at the table — including City of Hartford employees — have regarding the Connecticut Department of Transportation. Thomas Deller, the Director of Hartf’ord’s Department of Development Services said he was “appalled” by how CTfastrak has done its planning, categorizing it as “haphazard.” A resident said, “the City has been victimized by the DOT for decades.”

By all accounts, it seemed that the City was going to fight the best it could for its residents and business owners.

Instead, Mayor Segarra effectively threw Hartford under the busway. Continue reading 'Constituents Sold Out in “Agreement” on Flower Street'»

CTfastone

By , March 12, 2013 8:56 am

While CTfastrak is attempting a series of  public engagement meetings this month, it is simultaneously attempting to disengage one specific segment of the public: those opposed to the complete closure of Flower Street.

Running parallel to Broad Street between Capitol Avenue and Farmington Avenue, Flower Street has been the subject of controversy since the announcement that it would be barricaded for “safety” reasons. Several inquiries made for data supporting this claim that the New Britain-Hartford Busway/CTfastrak and the existing rail would significantly endanger lives if Flower Street remained open have been disregarded by those affiliated with CTfastrak and the Connecticut Department of Transportation. At a meeting in February, one employee laughed at the request, saying no such data existed.

At the same meeting, anyone who expressed concern with any part of the CTfastrak project was labeled a “detractor.”

What are residents and stakeholders to do if they are portrayed as lousy rabblerousers for trying to help shape a project that cuts through their neighborhoods?

Take time off from work on three consecutive days, travel to the Department of Transportation headquarters on the Berlin Turnpike, and wait around to speak out, even though the agency may arbitrarily not grant the status required for one’s voice to have any impact.

This is, according to the DOT’s Petition for Reconsideration, what the agency has in store.

The DOT, by the way, is petitioning itself. All decisions related to Flower Street have been made internally.

This latest petition was filed on March 6, 2013 by Timothy Wilson, the Manager of Highway Design in the DOT’s Bureau of Engineering and Construction. After the City of Hartford and others filed documents showing intent of having witnesses at the scheduled April 4th hearing, Wilson, in his petition, requested that the hearing take place over several days:

Continue reading 'CTfastone'»

When Every Vote Doesn’t Count in Hartford

By , March 6, 2013 7:49 am

In Hartford, the Working Families Party has displaced Republicans as the minority party on City Council. We have three Registrar of Voters because of the strength of this third party.

Knowing this makes Hartford’s recorded results from November’s presidential election seem unlikely. How can a city with a sizable progressive-minded population only have two votes for Jill Stein, the Green Party candidate, and none at all for Stephen Durham, the Freedom Socialist Party candidate for president?

It can’t. Continue reading 'When Every Vote Doesn’t Count in Hartford'»

Flower Street Shenanigans

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By , November 15, 2012 11:24 am

Flower Street, facing North. Nov. 15, 2012

In mid-October, we reported the appearance of stop signs on Flower Street, which indicated that Department of Transportation contractors were preparing the area for the shutting down the street. Michael Sanders, Public Transit Administrator at the Connecticut DOT, vehemently denied these signs had any connection to the government agency; he suggested these were related to the marathon that occurred over that weekend.

But why would a marathon be responsible for placing road closure signs in the middle, rather than at the ends, of a street?

The signs were then pushed to the side of the road, near the tracks, where they were less visible, but not removed. Had these been related to the marathon, it seems someone would have gotten around to retrieving them.

One month later, we call shenanigans. Continue reading 'Flower Street Shenanigans'»

Politics in the Grass

By , October 7, 2012 6:03 pm

When campaigning, one should be carefully constructing and reinforcing one’s image. The photograph above is a model of what not to do. Continue reading 'Politics in the Grass'»

City Destruction of Turf A-OK

By , October 1, 2012 10:00 am

The minor scuffs to the Bushnell Park lawn are a blight when created by users who have not thrown money at the City by way of permits, but massive ruts left after a single Saturday’s over-programming of the same space is acceptable. Here’s proof. All photos were taken on Saturday during the City’s EnvisionFest:

Continue reading 'City Destruction of Turf A-OK'»

Flower Street: “No” becomes “what do you think we can reconsider?”

By , September 26, 2012 1:47 am
name and name

Margiotta and Cunningham

Not until employees of the Department of Transportation were asked about next steps in the process, at the very end of a two hour meeting, did they bother to dispense with one major detail: the hearing officer has not yet made a decision about whether or not Flower Street could be closed.

In a meeting of the Asylum Hill Neighborhood Association, Brian Cunningham of the CT DOT and Tony Margiotta of Baker Engineering, explained the “recommended options for further study for the Flower Street crossing.”

Four of those options were presented by Margiotta as having potential; he said they considered 25 different options in a charrette, looking at fourteen of those in depth. No indication was given as to when any decision would be made about this part of the project, and after much bumbling with that softball question, Cunningham said that he would email individuals associated with the Frog Hollow and Asylum Hill organizations.

In a matter of weeks, the CT DOT and its associated engineers went from claiming that there was absolutely nothing they would do to accommodate pedestrians inconvenienced by the planned permanent closure of Flower Street to all traffic, to managing to find several alternatives that did not merely involve telling people to wait around for a circulator shuttle on their lunch breaks.

The shuttle idea is still one they are holding onto, however, despite being told by the Aetna and various residents that this would not mitigate the disconnection of Asylum Hill from Frog Hollow. In the Tuesday night meeting, one option was pushed by the DOT more heavily than others, yet this option does the least to meet the needs of residents and Capitol Avenue merchants.

Saying they “have not formally or finally decided” on any options, the DOT favored that of creating what they are describing as a pedestrian/bicycle multi-use trail between Flower Street and Broad Street. This would be constructed under the I-84/Aetna viaduct. The State would be responsible for the structure and landscaping, but they said the City would have to deal with matters like plowing. There was no indication that the DOT has had conversations with the City about this potential maintenance issue. Continue reading 'Flower Street: “No” becomes “what do you think we can reconsider?”'»

Another Look at the LSNI Assessment

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By , September 8, 2012 3:01 pm

The Livable & Sustainable Neighborhoods Initiative (LSNI) has been troubled since its inception due to poor hiring decisions compounded by an absence of management. Why take time and money to provide training for LSNI employees when more qualified individuals could have filled these positions from the start?

That is just one of the questions that emerges after reading the recently leaked assessment of the six-month-old program.

Despite its critique of various employees, pieces of the assessment continue to show how the program is being handled too delicately. It begins:

Continue reading 'Another Look at the LSNI Assessment'»

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