Ken Krayeske, a Hartford cyclist and lawyer, posed a question at Bike Walk Connecticut’s fundraiser dinner: How does the permanent closure of Flower Street to pedestrian and cyclist traffic enhance Transit Oriented Development (TOD)? The keynote speaker, Kip Bergstrom, Deputy Commissioner of the Department of Economic and Community Development, gave a succinct response before swiftly changing the topic: “I’m not sure that it does.” Continue reading 'How Flower Street’s Closure Helps Transit Oriented Development'»
Category: tax money in action
Between the low voter turnout and the small number of ballot items — three ballot questions and four Board of Education spots to fill — one would expect that Hartford’s results would have been among the first returned to the Connecticut Secretary of the State.
Following the election, the voting process in Hartford has received sharp criticism from the Courant on more than one occasion. Last week we reported how one resident needed to make multiple stops in different parts of town in order to vote. We continue to hear more from voters who had less than ideal experiences on Election Day.
Voters had reported that the several pages of text required to understand the ballot questions had been missing on Tuesday morning. Some places received these documents hours after the polls had been open. One resident who knew of this issue did not get to vote until early evening, around 5pm. Frank Gordón-Quiroga, whose polling place is at the Hartford Public Library, said the explanatory materials were present, but on the corner of a table. Continue reading 'Snarled Process Offers Results Days Later'»
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'»
Back in March, Real Hartford reported that Hartford voters were beginning to file complaints after noticing that not all write-in votes appeared to be counted. Later that month, the State Elections Enforcement Commission (SEEC) voted to authorize an investigation into these complaints.
Hartford was not the only municipality in Connecticut where voters complained about officials’ handling of the November 2012 election, but it is the only one of the six that still has not complied with the SEEC’s requests for information on votes allegedly not counted, say individuals close to the investigation. Continue reading 'It’s August. Did Your Vote Get Counted?'»
The week began with hope and anticipation. A Monday morning site meeting with an engineer and a planner from the Department of Transportation had gone remarkably well, and neighborhood representatives looked forward to seeing what new ideas the CT Fastrak team had developed for the Flower Street crossing since the May 20th decision requiring that the crossing remain passable. Alas, this bright outlook was no match for the reality of the July 16 meeting the DOT hosted at the Lyceum in Hartford. Officials showed old drawings of overpass designs and a remarkably similar attitude toward neighborhood advocates to that of their August 2012 public meeting in the same room. Several officials, including Commissioner James P. Redeker, said they were not expecting the May decision to be in favor of the neighborhood stakeholders.
In fact, it began before they even made it to the room. DOT officials, seemingly unaware of the sightlines, acoustics and occupants of the multi-chambered Lyceum lobby, spoke aloud of residents as “Ignorant” and quipped that “…the AC should be turned down low so that residents’ tempers don’t flare.” It seemed the meeting was off to a rough start before it began. Continue reading 'DOT Unwilling to Change Busway, Attitude'»
In a message sent today from Hartford 2000, Connecticut voters were reminded that tomorrow is the last day they can change party affiliation if they wish to vote in a party’s primary election this September:
Connecticut State statutes only allow major political parties to hold primary elections. Also under Connecticut State Statutes, political parties set their own rules regarding primary participation. Currently, the major parties in Connecticut, Democratic and Republican, only allow enrolled party members to vote in a primary. Should candidates petition for a primary in either of the major parties, a primary election will be held on Tuesday, September 10, 2013. Continue reading 'Want to Vote in the Primary? Monday Deadline for Party Change'»
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 2003, to oppose the United States’ invasion of Iraq meant setting oneself up for anything from ridicule to threats. Having been called a traitor in no uncertain terms, I know this firsthand. Seeing the biased coverage of the anti-war movement was what compelled me to participate in Indymedia, as there was (and is) a great need for reporting on social justice from the perspective — or at least, with empathy — of those not in the dominant culture.
Too often, the stories are still told from those in positions of power. We can see this in the narratives created about the protests of police brutality in East Flatbush, Brooklyn. Most mainstream news outlets attached the word “riot” to what had been happening, despite citizen journalists’ video footage showing that the majority of the protests were peaceful, if not in language, at least in action.
A press release does not a story make. Continue reading '10+ Years In'»
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.”
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: