While the Committee of Inquiry — filled with City Council members — is presumably inquiring on matters related to the Hartford Registrars of Voters, others have taken action about alleged problems during the last election, and the one before that.
What Would Constitute a Denial of Voting Rights?
In November 2013, former Hartford resident Julie Beman schlepped all over the city to ensure she voted. She filed a complaint with the State Elections Enforcement Commission against Democratic Registrar of Voters Olga Iris Vasquez and other election officials.
Over one year later, the SEEC completed its investigation Continue reading 'The Voting Situation'»
Photo courtesy of the West End Community Orchard project
Instead of limiting food distribution to donations of canned goods and jars of peanut butter, one organization has rounded up fresh produce from Hartford’s backyards.
The Open Hearth, a shelter on Charter Oak Avenue, has received 24 pounds of fruit from trees that are part of the West End Community Orchard.
The community orchard is not a single plot of land, but the collection of trees from yards, medians, and parks. This season the project has helped plant fifteen new fruit trees in one neighborhood.
To ensure good production and healthier trees overall, the Orchard will be hosting a pruning event in March 2015.
Not wholly unexpected, the West End Civic Association officially backed out of any involvement in the attempt by some to evict a family from its 68 Scarborough Street home. The organization’s official message:
The WECA Board feels unable to take a position, given the legal complexities and ambiguities in the zoning regulations, around the issues on 68 Scarborough Street.
WECA has the ability to recommend policy to city officials, boards, and commissions, but is not the entity that directly determines policy. In its message, it said the group has neither the expertise nor the authority to handle this matter.
What happens next? Put the City of Hartford’s Planning and Zoning Commission meetings on your calendar. With or without neighborhood group recommendations, they are the ones with the expertise and authority to, as they say, address the legal complexities and ambiguities in zoning regulations.
Interracial marriage was not permitted in many states during the early 1960′s. In fact, anti-miscegenation laws existed in the majority of the United States through the middle of the last century, allowing for racism to dictate the nature of marital and intimate relationships. The Supreme Court struck down those laws in 1967.
A few years later, the push for same-sex marriage began. Again, hateful legislation defined marriage in a way that includes some, while excluding others. It took a few decades for this movement to take hold, and there has been much backlash along the way, as one can witness through the enactment of the Defense of Marriage Act in 1996 and the incessant verbal diarrhea from pundits. In 2010, one state began to fight against the federal government’s restrictive definition of marriage. Many others followed. Same-sex couples can not be legally married in the entirety of the United States yet, but there is no doubt that opinion has shifted toward that happening eventually.
Sometimes the law is wrong. When it is wrong, we are obligated to recognize that and change it. These are, after all, civil laws, not God’s laws.
The West End is currently looking at what appears to be an outmoded law:
The purpose of the R-8 district in the city is to provide for and protect single-family residences sited on a lot having a minimum area of twelve thousand (12,000) square feet. The R-8 district provisions encourage the future development of these very low density residential areas for primarily residential purposes by prohibiting conversions, roomers, most institutional uses and all business uses.
On the surface, this might look sensible. Who wants factories or prisons in her backyard? Zoning can be useful in that way.
All of Scarborough Street is zoned for R-8 use (see above). The language is seemingly vague. What does “primarily residential purposes” mean? On this street, in the same zone, a property is owned by the University of Connecticut. In an article the Courant ran on this, there was no mention of neighborhood opposition to what is used as a place for donor events. The Wadsworth Atheneum owns a property on the street. So does Jumoke Academy. Two properties are owned by trustees, another is a land trust. There are two churches operating on Scarborough Street. This leaves 21 other properties, one of which has been on the market for several years.
The issue at hand is 68 Scarborough Street. Continue reading 'Family Faces Eviction from West End Home, Despite Paying Mortgage on Time'»
This picture was taken in South Glastonbury. It could have, should have been taken in Hartford.
Imagine if you could pick apples or pears without having to schlep the entire family to South Glastonbury.
For some Hartford residents, this is already possible. Everyone else, you’ll have your chance soon.
The West End Community Orchard, as its name suggests, begins in that neighborhood but does not have to end there said Tiffany Glanville, one of the volunteers behind this project. Erin Sheehan, another West End resident, is the other half of the team.
In its infancy, the West End Community Orchard is asking residents of any neighborhoods who would like to participate to register fruit and nut trees already on their properties. Partnering with KNOX, the trees will be rated for health and then indexed so that the organization has an idea of who is growing what where. Those locations will not be publicized, so nobody needs to worry about premeditated raids on their trees.
Glanville was inspired when she saw just how many apples from her own yard went to waste last year — approximately two-thirds of them. She knew about City Fruit, a non-profit from Seattle and thought it possible to “do a harvest” of excess fruits here. The produce could be given to area food pantries, she said. Continue reading 'Tracking and Expanding Hartford’s Orchard'»