The need to act regionally has never been more important

If the opportunity for shared or regional services is to be realized, there needs to be a comprehensive realignment of which level of government — state, local or regional — should be responsible for what. Possibilities are open for strengthening and maximizing the opportunities provided by Connecticut’s regional Councils of Government (COGs) for the efficient, effective and economic delivery of needed services. However, reforms must be enacted.

XL Center area development needs discussion — not eminent domain threat

It seems that Sen. Len Fasano and his Republican caucus prevented the Capitol Region Development Authority from pulling a fast one last month. Word surfaced on Tuesday the 22nd that the CRDA planned to initiate action at its meeting later that week to seize by eminent domain the section of the XL Center owned by Northland Investment Corp.  A letter from Fasano and other Senate Republicans led the CRDA to remove the proposal from its agenda.

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.