Two monuments, but only one to be proud of

On Saturday, April 28, I attended the ceremony unveiling a monument in New Britain for the Borinqueneers – the Puerto Rican Infantry Regiment of the U.S. Army. The audience members were dressed up for the occasion holding Puerto Rican flags, veterans were in full uniform, and it was a festive environment full of pride. It was a culmination of six years of hard work to find a location, seek state funding and obtain city support to commemorate a unit that became a national icon in Puerto Rico and among Puerto Ricans on the mainland for their heroic combat role, especially during the Korean war.

Connecticut’s eviction rate slightly higher than average

The United States has been facing a housing affordability crisis for at least a decade, and it should come as no surprise that Connecticut’s cities have not been immune. The nation’s eviction rate peaked in 2006, when 7.5 percent of renter-occupied households had eviction filings made against them, and 3.1 percent were evicted from their homes. Connecticut’s eviction rate peaked earlier, at 3.9 percent in 2003, but remains slightly higher than the nationwide rate.

Regionalize to save money? Okay, show me the numbers

Today it is often stated that pushing municipalities to share services is critical to solving the state’s financial problems. I doubt that.
First, municipalities have already regionalized services more than many realize. Second, while the term regionalization is hastily deployed, business plans showing the savings and who gets them are rarely seen. I suspect many of the ideas floated would not stand up to analysis.

Why we should believe Hartford is getting better and stronger

In his third State of the City address, Mayor Luke Bronin described Hartford as “better and stronger” and cited awards won and initiatives championed. While residents, public officials, and pundits debate the extent to which “Hartford Has It,” unprecedented collaboration among Hartford’s community-based organizations, anchor institutions, city government, residents, and community activists is reason for hope. Cooperation in developing compelling grant applications to support new city initiatives is impressive evidence of a collective commitment to improve the health and well-being of all residents, including those most disadvantaged.

An opportunity to do right by Hartford students

As a Hartford teacher of 28 years, I’ve seen how inequitable state funding deprives our students of true educational opportunity. Shrinking budgets year after year mean students have few, if any, advanced courses to choose from, and elective courses like art and music, designed to catalyze students’ creativity and ingenuity, are often entirely eliminated.

Regional governance: Not an option, but a necessity

The issue of regional cooperation, regionalism, regional governance is gradually rising from a faint whisper to an almost audible level of tone in the Land of Steady Habits where the myth of municipal home rule reigns supreme.  I have been involved with issues of regional cooperation for close to 30 years in various capacities. I have observed the concept progressing in symbolic or fragmented ways, a little here, a little there; but not in the systemic ways that can achieve a more dynamic economy, and overcome the many constraints we now experience in our current mode of state/municipal governance

Three new ‘R’s for Connecticut education

A “minimally adequate system of free public schools” is the new court standard for State education funding. Town and School leaders are stunned by the recent CCJEF v. Rell ruling. Unless reconsidered, the responsibility of moving our state education system forward rests with state elected leadership. We hope they accept this challenge and adopt a higher standard. Our state’s future depends on making this the top priority and working together to provide more than a minimally adequate education system.

Connecticut is still a great place to live, good place to work

Connecticut’s attractiveness as a place to work and a place to live is because of our region, not just the individual townships.  Lacking real functional counties to tie our regions together is a weakness, but the townships can overcome this by recognizing their interdependence.

We in Connecticut are tending to focus on our weaknesses, but should recognize that overall Connecticut is a great place to live and a good place to work, for many reasons, and we should all work together to make it even better.

New reality: Changing cities and burbs can thrive together

The likelihood of Hartford, the lynchpin of this region, snatching victory from the jaws of near-bankruptcy is too-often viewed skeptically, even as adjacent suburban communities gain notice as up-and-coming places to be. Evidence suggests that our habitual reactions are selling the region, and the city, short.  Urban communities and the suburbs that surround them can thrive together.  In fact, that may be the only way for either – or both – to sustain and spread economic progress.

Closing Simpson-Waverly School will do more harm than good

The superintendent of Hartford has proposed to close two schools and consolidate others mostly in the poorest and most segregated areas of the city in order to cut cost and avoid costly building renovations. The vote will take place in the next Board of Education meeting on Tuesday, Jan. 16. As professors who worked in the past several years in partnership with Simpson-Waverly Pre-K-8 school, we would like to suggest that such closure will do more harm than good and will be much more costly in the long run for the city of Hartford.

Add the gift of dignity to your Christmas shopping list

Being on the outside looking in during this joyous time of year can be disheartening and debilitating. So in the same right spirit, donations are collected to share our abundance with neighbors less fortunate, unable to afford the right gift at the right price. It’s a generous and caring tradition we encourage and rightly applaud every year. However, many parents desperate to buy their children presents, but unable to do so, swallow their pride to accept handouts. Ultimate parental embarrassment often occurs in front of their children when well-intentioned gift-bearing volunteers arrive at their door on charity visits. So what to do?
Add one more gift to your list, the gift of dignity.

Marijuana: An issue we can solve

We must legalize recreational marijuana in Connecticut. It’s time our state joins the forward thinking people of Alaska, California, Colorado, Maine, Massachusetts, Nevada, Oregon, Washington, and Vermont to put an end to this modern day prohibition.