tax money in action

December 2016 Events

This monthly event listing includes arts and entertainment, civic engagement, academic, cultural, wellness, and other types of activities happening in Hartford during December. There is no intent to include all events — it’s curated, with preference given to what the widest range of Hartford residents can afford (free or low cost) and what sounds most interesting to us. If we think an event sounds convoluted, disorganized, or offensive, we are not going to list it. 

December 1

  • Without You: A World AIDS Day Public Art Action — The gallery space at Charter Oak Cultural Center (21 Charter Oak Ave.) will have blank panels on the floors and walls from 11 a.m. – 7 p.m. Everyone is welcome to stop by and make art. They say: “Commemorate the loss of a loved one to AIDS. Respond in art to the AIDS epidemic. Share the experience of living with AIDS. Each blank space becomes a monument to both the history of the disease and the future we look towards without it.” Free.
  • Free ice skating and skate rentals in Bushnell Park, 11 a.m. – 8 p.m.
  • Opening reception for “Fellowship” at the Gallery at Constitution Plaza. The exhibit will feature art by Johannes DeYoung, Joe Fig, Kayla Gibbons, and Terrence Lavin. 4:30-6:30 p.m.
  • Nails and Wagging Tails: Does your dog act like you are going to literally amputate one of her feet every time you grab for the clippers? Throw some money at the problem and outsource that task. Nail clipping at Naturally Dogs and Cats (10 Trumbull St.) from 5-8 p.m. today. $5.
  • Night of Illumination: this is the opening night of the Wadsworth Atheneum’s (600 Main) 43rd Annual Festival of Trees & Traditions. Besides viewing the trees, wreaths, and other decor, there will be live music and a DJ to enjoy. This part of the evening is 5-8 p.m., with a free screening of Love, Actually at 8 p.m. General admission is $8. Admission is $3 for Hartford residents, members, college students with ID, and youth under 17.
  • Champagne and Chocolates: Shop the museum store at the Stowe Center (77 Forest St.), sample chocolates, sip champagne, and tour the Katharine Seymour Day House, 6-8 p.m. $20 suggested donation.
  • The Art of Mindfulness: The Antidote to Digital Stress: Dr. Brian Luke Seaward will be facilitating a presentation on reducing stress. They say: “In a world filled with perpetual bombardment of sensory stimulation and a dependency on screen technologies, the human mind has become locked in fight or flight, more commonly known as monkey-mind. If screen addiction is a toxin to the spirit, then mindfulness is the antidote.” This will take place at the Toivo Center (399 Franklin Avenue), 6:30-7:30 p.m. There is a $5 suggested donation, with nobody turned away for lack of funds. 
  • Into the Night: The Enduring Legacy of Elie Wiesel — an evening of readings and performances at Charter Oak Cultural Center (21 Charter Oak Ave.) from 7-9 p.m.
  • Stop by Peppercorn’s Grill (357 Main) for live music by Professors of Sweet Sweet Music, 8-10 p.m. There is no cover.

(more…)

Pay to Play

It used to be highly controversial to ask families to pay for their children to participate in public school sports, but the visceral anger has more or less dwindled as practicality has won out. In the same way, some of the “freebies” in Hartford that have become traditions — parades, summer movie nights, ice skating — have been revealed as costing more than is fair to pass along to the taxpayer in a time when important services have been slashed.

The reactions have varied. Some did little more than create a hashtag. Others have taken more vocal and fruitful actions.

In April, Real Hartford suggested that events like Envisionfest and Winterfest charge a modest admission fee for out-of-town users. No word on if anyone will take up that suggestion, but it stands. Meanwhile, those hoping to hang on to Winterfest activities, like ice skating in Bushnell Park, have started a crowdfunding campaign. As of publication, it has collected $200 toward its $200,000 goal.

Zunner Building Opens in Asylum Hill

L-to-R: Yvonne Matthews, Asylum Hill Neighborhood Association; Andrea Perreira, Local Initiatives Support Corporation; Luke Bronin, Mayor of Hartford; Lynda Godkin, NINA; Jack Ellovich, Hartford Community Loan Fund; Matt Ritter, State Rep.; Dannel Malloy, Governor

 

“Government sometimes gets it right,” Malloy told onlookers at the grand opening ceremony for The Zunner Building, a restoration project that has been, according to Lynda Godkin, 15 years in the making.

View of Asylum Hill from inside the Zunner Building, located at the corner of Garden and Ashley Street

In this case, the State of Connecticut was a significant source of the funding for what turned a 90-year old, much dilapidated building, into a refreshed mixed-use building with help from Northside Institutions Neighborhood Alliance (NINA).

Besides the State Housing Tax Credit Contribution Program, State Historic Preservation Tax Credit Program, and Connecticut Department of Economic and Community Development, funding for $2.4 million renovation of 207-215 Garden Street came from the City of Hartford Façade Improvement Program, The Hartford Financial Services Group, Eversource Energy, Local Initiatives Support Corporation, Hartford Community Loan Fund, Travelers, Wells Fargo Bank, Connecticut Natural Gas, and ConnectiCare Insurance Company. (more…)

Bronin Releases Recommended Budget

The mayor’s 300+ page proposed budget can be reduced to one sentence: The party is over.

For years, certain parades and festivals had been held despite their organizers failing to pay for associated costs in full. This is one of Hartford’s open secrets. Even when the events may not have been well-executed or marketed, the City of Hartford continued to pick up the tab. Cultural events like festivals and parades could draw money into Hartford, but a single glance at the food trucks present for many of these events shows this not to be the case. How, then, can the strain on the HPD traffic division and on the DPW (for funsies, visit Bushnell Park at end of day following one of the major festivals before the crews come out in force to remove litter, empty the trash, and hose everything down) be justified if negligible revenue is created? Should Mayor Bronin’s proposed budget be adopted, we could still have parades for days, if we pay for them without help from the City. (more…)

Suggestion Box: Patching the Budget Hole

How we got here

The City of Hartford’s economic problems did not just happen. They did not spring up when Mayor Bronin was sworn into office. They did not emerge last year or even the year before that. (more…)

Democracy in Hartford

Even with all the extra attention given to the Hartford Registrar(s) of Voters, even with the election monitor, voting has not gone smoothly this Election Day:

  • Reports of issues with machines at several polling places. Low battery before 7 a.m. at one; same issue by 8 a.m. at the Hartford Public Library polls (Downtown). Reports that the United Methodist (West End) polling place would be counting ballots by hand.
  • City Council candidate Nyesha McCauley’s supporters at Annie Fisher School (Blue Hills) spotted standing in the travel lanes on Plainfield Street, holding signs.
  • Reports of a moderator at Grace Lutheran Church (Asylum Hill) telling residents to “vote Row A”
  • Voter at United Methodist (West End) told she is not allowed to view the number on machine that indicates which number voter she is for the day. Explanation given: new policy this year. Her husband voted fifteen minutes later at same location and was able to view the number with no interference.

(more…)

Paving Schedules

paving schedule posted on the Department of Public Works website

Though Real Hartford announced the night-time construction on Park Street, many residents were caught completely off-guard. That is despite the City’s press release stating that it and SAMA (Spanish American Merchants Association) would be contacting Park Street business owners and landlords. We have heard from both area landlords and residents that they were not given notice. In an election year when the public is bombarded with a constant stream of information, it is easy for news about travel and sleep disruptions to get lost.

The City of Hartford’s Department of Public Works has posted on its website some information about Spring road construction. As of May 21, 2015, the only dates listed are for the construction that began on Park Street earlier this week.

As it turns out, this is an incomplete list. (more…)

Scarborough Family Fires Back

Photo by Christopher Brown

With attempts to remove eleven residents from a 9-bedroom home on Scarborough Street underway, the family gathered today in City Hall to strike back.

The 68 Scarborough attorney, Peter Gosselin, said that his clients  instructed him to file a lawsuit in federal district court, alleging that their constitutional rights have been violated. This was filed this morning.

Photo by Christopher Brown

Additionally, they will be filing an injunction to prevent accruing fines until a court ruling is made. If this is not granted, they can be fined $100-250 per day or face ten days of imprisonment.

As became clear yesterday, attempts to amicably resolve the issue have gone nowhere.