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2016 Holiday Giving Guide

Photo from November 2014

Right after the 9/11 attacks, the then President, George W. Bush, urged Americans to go shopping. These things do not come without a price. The reckless, mindless spending empties wallets and creates a fine distraction for us. While we work harder to have more money to spend on more things, policies are enacted with little resistance.

Distraction and complacency go a long way toward complicity.

When we have covered local protests of any kind, regular folks — not simply those being directly challenged — typically critique those carrying signs or blocking traffic. The protestors are seen as making too much fuss, seen as an other for daring to speak up. It’s never quiet enough, respectful enough, pretty enough. There’s too much inconvenience created. The strategies are always questioned, not only when the tactics are questionable, such as when people from out-of-town join in a march through a poor neighborhood chanting “WHOSE STREETS? OUR STREETS!“. Basically, if the opposition takes the form of anything more wild than wearing a rose or a designated color on the same day, it’s looked down on. The people are told to sit down, shut up, smile nicely, and go with the flow.

We did not just wake up to President-Elect Trump, as if his rise to power occurred magically. (more…)

First Round of Updated Zoning Regulations Pass Unanimously

By the petitions circulating earlier this week it would seem that the only items covered in upwards of 250 pages of zoning regulations involve the West End, how the Village for Families and Children site should be used, and how many unrelated people may live together in one small area of the city. Claims by the dozen have been made about the public information and notice process and about what zoning changes might mean. Since the revision process began in 2013, we have been closely following along the way.

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Hundreds Extend Welcome to Syrian Refugees

 

More than 200 people rallied in the rain outside of the Connecticut State Capitol Saturday morning in support of Syrian refugees. Their messages included the ability and willingness for the United States to care for both new refugees and our existing homeless population, dismissing the either/or rhetoric that has been presented as fact in recent weeks. Speakers also dismissed the idea the refugees would be given a free ride once here, or that the State has any control over who the United States does or does not accept. (more…)

More Arrests in the Black Lives Matter Movement

Twelve people were arrested in an announced Black Lives Matter rally late Monday afternoon when they blocked Albany Avenue at Bloomfield Avenue, one of the major roads used for commuters leaving Hartford for West Hartford and beyond during rush hour.

There were two non-violent action trainings provided for participants before this latest rally, trainings that were also announced and should have clued in anyone paying any attention that a detour might have been in the stars for Monday afternoon. (more…)

Conversations with the Candidates: Impressions

“Why isn’t the mayor here?”

That was the first question asked by an audience member, before the official time for questions began — before anything really began — at the Business for Downtown Hartford’s “Candid Conversations” event. (more…)

Hartford’s Plan to Make City Attractive for Young People

As dirt was piled on top of frozen ground, destined to be “broken” for a project that had been declared done before any consultation with the public, and as distraction-upon-distraction was thrown at residents on anĀ evening utterly overloaded with City meetings, a group of young(ish) professionals were told they do not belong here.

Without an inspection being conducted, residents of 68 Scarborough Street received a cease-and-desist order last year because their definition of family does not mesh with that of those living around them. (more…)

Most Best Awesome Superlatives of 2014

There are people who hate year-end lists because it sounds like the creator is putting out some clickbait while spending his days going to Christmas parties.

We’re using this opportunity to review the operation of the city and the City– what helped to build up Hartford and who needs to have a time out to think about what he has done. (more…)

Standing Up

Justin held his sign in front of City Hall during rush hour on Wednesday. He wanted to know why he was the only person taking a stand.

On Saturday, December 6th, others will join voices to say that all lives matter. The solidarity march will gather at Albany and Main at noon, then head up the road, ending at the Woodland Street entrance to Keney Park.

Family Faces Eviction from West End Home, Despite Paying Mortgage on Time

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.

Hartford

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. (more…)