library

Trash Talk

swag.jpgClarence W. Corbin, the Director of Hartford Public Works, and Marilynn Cruz-Aponte, Assistant to the Director of Public Works, spoke to residents as part of the Understanding City Services workshop series tonight at the Hartford Public Library. Corbin mainly covered the single-stream recycling pilot program, while Cruz-Aponte dealt with the proposed Hartford Bulky Waste & Recycling Center.

Corbin’s presentation included background on the single-stream program which was introduced to selective areas in Hartford last May. Much of what he talked about has previously been reported on at Urban Compass, as a press release was sent by the Mayor’s office a few days back. Some of the key facts that he shared:

* It costs about $70/ton to dump garbage, whether it contains recyclable materials or not

* Hartford dumps about 45,000 tons of municipal solid waste (per year, I’m assuming, though he didn’t give a time frame)

* The “Go Green – Use Blue” program collects from 1000 households in the city each day

* 86% of the households in the program are compliant

* $4160 in rebates have been awarded to residents so far

* The single-stream program will only be available to those in 1-6 family residences.

singe.jpgThe Department of Public Works is working to figure out how to expand the program, and they expressed hope that all 1-6 family residences in Hartford will be able to participate.

What struck me as annoying from a treehugging hippie point-of-view is that so much of their presentation focused on economics rather than on health or environmental benefits. Are we really only concerned with taxes and revenue?

Cruz-Aponte announced plans for the new Hartford Bulky Waste & Recycling Center, which she described as both a “transfer station” and a “convenience center.” Because the landfill will be closing on December 31, 2008, we need to find another way to dispose of our trash. She explained that residents will still place trash in city-issued bins and pick-up will continue in the same way, so that part of the process will not be changing. After the trash leaves the premises, it will be brought to the transfer station, where it will be—wait for it—transferred. The Hartford Bulky Waste & Recycling Center will also permit residents to drop off recyclables, electronics, and bulky waste like tires; however, they will not be collecting hazardous waste. There is a possibility that this center will also have a “swap center” where residents can leave items that are in good condition, and others can pick them up. Right now we have a swap center– it’s called the curb. (more…)

For Your Social Calendar

Tonight

Drop by the Hartford Public Library (5:30 for refreshments, 6 for the talk) for a program on the Department of Public Works. “Learn about the new Transfer Center and Single-Stream Recycling. Bring your questions about leaf collection, street repair, snow removal, garbage collection…” I know you can’t contain your excitement over this, but let’s be real– these routines keep the city going. Almost rear-ended a leaf-collection machine because of lack of traffic police? Show up and ask questions about the unsafe work conditions! Experienced flooding because they waited until last week to start with leaf collection? Livid because jerks keep dumping their leaves in the bike lanes? Know that snow removal is plain pathetic? Come by and let your voice be heard.

November 20

La Canción Puertorriqueña/The Puerto Rican Song: In Our Times-In Our Voice
Singer Songwriters José Saavedra & Walter Morciglio
These two cantautores will share their songs and the poetry in their first US East Coast Joint Tour. Be prepared for an evening that will blend poetry and songs that portray the reality of Latino and human struggle of our times. Two-time Latin Grammy Nominated Producer/Songwriter Morciglio presents material from his fourth album, El Album Gris. Morciglio’s productions credits include such artists as Roy Brown, Antonio Cabán Vale “El Topo”, Andy Montañez as well as José Saavedra. Saavedra who has been developing his musical career for the last fifteen years, most recently in Tucson, AZ will present a collection of songs from his three albums: Ver Cada Ver, Versos ReVersos, Veredas Verdes.

The show starts at 8pm at La Paloma Sabanera (405 Capitol Ave) and costs $10.

November 23

Queers Without Borders and the CT Transadvocacy Coalition will be showing Out Rage ‘69 a film from the KQED four part documentary “The Question of Equality.” This contains interviews and archival footage of Sylvia Rivera, the Gay Liberation Front, and more.

Doors open at 5pm, dinner follows at 5:30, and the film begins at 6:30. This is held at the Metropolitan Community Church, which is located in Colt Memorial Parish House of the Good Shepherd Episcopal Church (155 Wyllys St.)

November 25

Tribute to “The King (Hector Lavoe) & Queen (Celia Cruz) of Salsa” on at The Bushnell at 8pm.

Some of you may know that salsa annoys me very quickly. When it blasts through my walls, it makes me rage. The one exception that I have found to this is Celia Cruz. I spent Christmas in Paterson a few years ago, and the local station played her music incessantly. This tribute sounds like a fun night, but a pricey one. VIP tickets go for $100, but the cheap tickets start at $25.

There will also be a Meet & Greet at Andrea’s Restaurante (371 Franklin) from 5:45-6:45. There will be a Spanish-style buffet, raffles, and giveaways. There will also be an afterparty at La Casona.

Wanna Blog?

The Hartford Public Library (downtown) is offering a free class to help people create blogs. They ask that patrons attend all three sessions, which run on August 13th, 20th, and 27th. It is an adult class and meets at 7:15pm. To register or get more information, go to their website.

Frankenstein’s Monster

CT Science CenterLately, all I’m hearing and reading about is how shitty the economy is right now. I’m not going to argue that.

But I have to disagree with the way we are looking at certain financial problems.

Just off the top of my head, I know that there are reports on how the Mark Twain House and Old State House have been struggling. Two branches of the Hartford Public Library have closed. A number of public school employees have been laid off. The state is having budgeting issues (which apparently means that some state employees get to currently work without having the security of signed contracts. Employees can get paid for what they have worked, but be told not to return for the rest of the term. source: personal experience). When hearing about each of these issues, the message I am receiving is that nothing can be done. Our hands are tied. The library does not want to take responsibility for their budgeting mishaps. Some politicians don’t seem to want to step up and do their jobs, which directly involve city budgeting issues. What’s more, the city has this image problem (exacerbated by the media on a nearly daily basis) which allows outsiders to justify letting everything here crumble.

Money problems are not the same as late stage cancer or earthquakes–there is, in fact, something to be done. Capitalism, the whole concept of money, and esoteric budgets involving huge sums are all manufactured, aka, they are all man-made things. This is America, and no matter how awful our economy is right now, we, as a country, are faring better than many places in the world. The American Dream myth of pulling oneself up by his bootstraps is flipped. If anyone has the ability to succeed in that way, it’s not the individual, but the larger entity–the organization or corporation. (more…)

Unreal

What is the deal with administrative/operating decisions lately at the Hartford Public Library? Weeks ago, there was criticism that librarians were not contacting the Hartford Police Department when circumstances indicated they might want to do so. Now, the Mark Twain Branch and Blue Hills Branch are closing, but a source quoted in the Courant makes it sound like there are political games going on:

Leo Laffitte, a representative of the library’s union AFSCME Local 1716, said Monday he does not believe that chief Librarian Louise Blalock intends to close the branches.

“She intentionally selected those branches because she knows community activists in those neighborhoods would not allow for that to happen.”

The union suspects that Blalock has inflated the number of layoffs and the amount of the budget gap.

“It’s a scare tactic,” Laffitte said.

The idea that this is all a mess created by pig-headedness and grandstanding does not sit well with me. It costs money to operate everything. We know that. Surely there are places to make cuts that do not involve closing branches. In the meantime, how’s about not toying with Hartford residents, who are dealing with enough garbage as it is?
The library finally got around to posting notices about the closures. Nothing like a little procrastination, y’all. Both say essentially the same thing:

Hartford Public Library sincerely regrets the loss of services at the Blue Hills Branch. The branch will close at 5 p.m. on Thursday, July 3, 2008. Please visit the Albany Branch and the Library On Wheels for your library needs.

Albany Branch (1.56 miles)
1250 Albany Avenue (at Blue Hills Ave.)
(860) 695-7380
Monday, Wednesday 12:00 to 6:00 PM
Tuesday, Thursday 12:00 to 8:00 PM
Friday, Saturday 12:00 to 5:00 PM

Former patrons of the Blue Hills branch are referred to the Albany Avenue branch:

Summer Reading Program:
Student Folders will be transferred to the Albany Branch. The first 100 youth customers from Blue Hills visiting the Albany Branch to check out or report on summer reading assignments will receive round-trip bus fare reimbursement ($2.00) The Teen Leader you worked with at Blue Hills will be available to help you at Albany.

Likewise with Mark Twain Branch:

Hartford Public Library sincerely regrets the loss of services at the Mark Twain Branch. The branch will close at 5 p.m. on Thursday, July 3, 2008. Please visit the Downtown Library and the Library On Wheels for your library needs.

Downtown Library (1.43 miles)
500 Main Street
(860) 695-6295
Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday 10:00 AM to 8:00 PM
Friday, Saturday 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM
Sundays 1:00 to 5:00 PM (October through May)

[…]
Summer Reading Program:
Student Folders will be transferred to the Downtown Library—3rd Floor Children’s Library. The first 100 youth customers from Mark Twain visiting the Downtown Library to check out or report on summer reading assignments will receive round-trip bus fare reimbursement ($2.00) The Teen Leader you worked with at Mark Twain will be available to help you Downtown.

The library is prepared to spend roughly $400 on bus fare. Giving a one-time bus fare voucher is more of an insult than any kind of proactive measure. This might get each patron to the library once over the summer, but it does not erase any inconvenience created by the situation.

Where else could money be saved? (more…)