The “Choice Watch: Diversity and Access in Connecticut’s School Choice Programs” report released last week suggests ways that “open choice” schools in Connecticut should work to reduce segregation across racial, linguistic, and ability lines. The report finds that most school choice programs are actually integrated as far as socioeconomic status is concerned, with integration defined quite broadly: enrollment between 25-75% minority students. Continue reading 'How to Make Schools More Integrated'»
Glossing over the matter of safety and likening the plaintiff’s issue with the Flower Street closure to one of “inconvenience,” the Superior Court in Hartford ruled to dismiss the lawsuit against James Redeker, Commissioner of the Connecticut Department of Transportation. Christopher Brown had sought a writ of mandamus– a resolution that would require the CT DOT reopen Flower Street for cyclists and pedestrians as DOT’s hearing officer Judith Almeida had ruled previously. With the dismissal, the DOT is permitted to leave a city street permanently closed to all forms of traffic.
Attorney Ken Krayeske said the outcome was not unexpected. “We knew going in that a mandamus presents a unique challenge: how do you prove a plaintiff has a legal right to something?,” he said.
“We understood the uphill odds, but we filed because the Connecticut Department of Transportation relegates cyclists and pedestrians to second class citizenship,” Krayeske said.
The DOT, now backed by the court, has said that an east-west path sufficiently mitigates the closure of a north-south route. The bike lanes on Broad Street have been accepted by them and the court as another solution to the closure. The new lanes and bike boxes on Broad Street were painted in November; the paint is already nearly completely eroded in places and few cyclists use it. According to dozens of cyclists, this stretch of Broad Street is not significantly safer since the installment of these lanes. In the last month, huge potholes in the Broad Street and Capitol Avenue intersection have not made things easier for those on two wheels. Although not directly part of the Flower Street situation, a nearby stretch of the East Coast Greenway which has been identified as the responsibility of the State had gone neglected for weeks while a large sheet of ice made walking and cycling a challenge. Continue reading 'DOT Committed in Court to Building Bridge for Pedestrians and Cyclists'»
Would we even recognize Election Day in Hartford if it weren’t for the near-ritual of shenanigans?
As of mid-afternoon, CT News Junkie reported a low, even by our standards, voter turnout of 2.2% in the city. This number may deceive one into believing that each voter’s experience would be positive, as there’d be no rushing folks away from the voting tables and out the door. Continue reading 'How Many Trips Does It Take to Vote in Hartford?'»
Weeks before school resumes, nobody seems to know what assessment will be used in the upcoming year –the CMT/CAPT or new Smarter Balanced. Continue reading 'Changing Standards, Assessments in Public Schools'»
The gymnasium of St. Anne / Immaculate Conception Church on Park Street was the venue for a true community dialogue about the history and current state of the Latino vote in Hartford. The dialogue did not dwell in the past, nor did it center on the panelists’ contributions, as audience members readily joined in.
Evelyn Mantilla, who served as the event’s moderator, explained that of the approximately 54,000 individuals registered to vote in the city, 38% are Latinos. Of the small number who voted in the 2012 primary, only 13% of those voters were Latino.
“Why don’t more Latinos vote in Hartford?” was the question that held this conversation together. Everyone had theories.
Panelist Victor Quinones said, “we are not educated politically.” People will vote all Democrat instead of thinking about the individual candidates.
“There is also the hours,” he said. Very few people stop by the polls between 6-9am, and then people work all day. He said the polls should open and close later. Continue reading '¿Ausente? Indeed.'»
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'»
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?
Frog Hollow residents began shoveling a path the width of a van down the middle of a one-way side street on Sunday morning. What started with a lone shoveler quickly snowballed into a community effort. Continue reading 'When the Plows Don’t Show'»
On Tuesday, November 6th, as with every election, the polls are expected to be open from 6am-8pm on Election Day.
This year’s ballot question (yes or no) asks whether or not more funds should be appropriated for the massive MDC project. According to The Hartford Votes-Hartford Vota Coalition, the question — in layperson’s terms — reads:
Approval for the Metropolitan District Commission (MDC) to appropriate an additional $800 million for Phase 2 of the Clean Water Project, which is being implemented to comply with a Federal consent decree and State consent order requiring the reduction of sewage overflows. The appropriation is to be financed through grants, loans, and MDC issuance of bonds.
But on MDC literature, it is stated as follows:
Shall the appropriation of an additional $800,000,000, to be financed, in part, by the
issuance of bonds and Clean Water Fund grants and loans, for Phase II of the Metropolitan
District’s combined sewer overflow, sanitary sewer overflow and nitrogen removal programs to decrease levels of pollution in Metropolitan District member towns, the Connecticut River and its tributaries, and Long Island Sound to comply with a consent decree of the United States District Court of the District of Connecticut and a consent order of the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, be approved?
Currently, diluted sewage is sent into the Connecticut River and its tributaries. The Clean Water Project will deal with the “approximately 1 billion gallons of combined wastewater and storm water currently released each year to area waterways,” says the MDC. Residents of Bloomfield, East Hartford, Newington, Rocky Hill, West Hartford, Wethersfield and Windsor will also be able to vote on this question.
As for the candidates, voters should have taken responsibility to learn about their options by now; however, one’s choices might seem limited if a person’s total knowledge of the process comes from advertisements, commercials, and phone calls. Besides the choices listed on the ballot, it is possible to write in candidates. The Registrar of Voters is not required to have the names of all candidates listed on the ballot; in other words, it is up to the voter to know the names of write-in candidates when they enter the polling place. The Hartford Votes-Hartford Vota Coalition has provided a list of options:
In addition to the listed candidates for President, it is possible to write-in Stephen Durham, James E. Harris, Tom Hoefling, Raymond Sizemore, Jill Stein, and Gerald Warner.
Stephen Durham is an openly gay candidate running with the Freedom Socialist Party; his running mate is feminist Christina López.
Tom Hoefling is an America’s Party candidate; this party believes that abortion and euthanasia violate the U.S. Constitution.
Individuals do not need to vote along party lines. For example, a registered Democrat can vote for a Libertarian candidate if he feels so inclined. Voters can also choose not to vote, either in general or for any position or question. Even if only one choice is provided for a particular seat, there is no obligation to cast a vote for that candidate. While this seems like commonsense, less informed voters are sometimes given misinformation by cheerleaders standing outside of polling places, and worse, by poll workers. Continue reading 'Hartford Voting Guide'»
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?
Despite its critique of various employees, pieces of the assessment continue to show how the program is being handled too delicately. It begins: