West Hartford Forums

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Archive for November, 2008

Five Things to Love about West Hartford, November Edition

Posted by whforums on November 27, 2008

1. Our amazing public library. It’s easy to take for granted not only the hours that it’s open (and those who staff it), but the resources it makes available to each of us. Not to mention the activities/programs that are constantly going on, and the way the library takes a leadership role in fostering community beyond consumerism.

2. Just to stick with the library for a second — how about the new library podcast page? You can now catch audio and/or video of many library activities from the comfort of your own computer. How great is that?

3. Another thing to love, that’s perhaps even more invisible than our library, which at least has its hulking, public, downtown presence. How about the work done by our police department, fire department and teachers? We ask a lot of each of the individuals who work for our town, and each works awfully hard for the good of our community. The thanks they get? Criticism of their performance, their salaries and their benefits. Seeing as each of these individuals provide services that keep our society functioning, we should be saying “thanks” more than we say “how much.”

4. I’ve given you this one before, but 59ers coffee (yes, it’s that important to me). They really need to get a website, so I can link to them …

5. The beautiful, clean, tree-lined streets. People in West Hartford take a lot of pride in their property and in their communities, and it shows. It’s easy to look past how beautiful our town is when you fracking live in it, but the next time you’re driving down Ridgewood Road, just take a “step back” and say to yourself “man, this is a pretty beautiful place.” That’s what I did the other day, anyway …

Posted in gratitude, West Hartford | Tagged: , | 1 Comment »

Not Much Good News from New Park Avenue This Thanksgiving

Posted by whforums on November 27, 2008

So, I’ll follow this with a happier post, but yesterday didn’t exactly bring a lot of good news from the New Park Avenue area.

First, there was this story about a “home invasion” (I’m really not comfortable with this phrase) over on Fenwood. The police say it was “targeted” (I guess there are versions of “targeted,” but it seems to me like such a thing is always to some degree targeted), and the “invaders” came armed and with zip-ties to tie up anyone inside. Scary stuff, and a burning reminder to keep your doors locked, even in “West Hartford.”

Then, this report about a woman trying to kidnap her own children during a supervised visit.

I’ve written often before about this idea of “two West Hartfords,” or about how West Hartford is some sort of blend between the reputation it has, its thriving downtown, and a lot of deep poverty. I’m going to seek some numbers on West Hartford crime by street/district and see what that shows us. I’m also wondering if it would be beneficial to elect Town Council by town district, to provide more real and local voice to all of our residents …

All idle thought for future posts, which you’re lucky (or bored!) enough to read.

Posted in Crime, Media, West Hartford, West Hartford Center, West Hartford Town Council, WHPD | Tagged: , | Leave a Comment »

What Do You Think of the Look of PF Chang’s?

Posted by whforums on November 24, 2008

You’ll have to forgive my photo quality — I snapped it with an iPhone as my car was rolling by:

PF Chang's, West Hartford

I get that art threatens capitalism, so that when capitalism tries to do art, it can only do kitsch.  Like, Las Vegas exists, and that’s fine.  But this to me seems more like “branding on acid” than anything.   For god’s sake, people, you can make the giant horse as giant or ungiant as you want, and you can remake the exterior of your portion of the mall with height and”rich earth tones,” but none of this is going to change the fact that you’re in a mall. And, to be blunt, if I’ve chosen to spend time at this mall, why would I want to forget that in the first place?

Architecture without politics is vapid, but this is architecture in the service of the faux politics of the consumer, which is insipid …

Set to open December, 2008.  And don’t get me wrong, I’ll be there that month, and I’m sure the food will be good. And I think it’s a welcome boutique chain in West Hartford’s “boutique chain scene.”  But just like The Cheesecake Factory (and in opposition to Crate and Barrel), this place just looks like it’s trying too hard, doesn’t it?

Posted in Sorry I'm So Cynical, West Hartford, West Hartford Restaurants, westfarms | Tagged: | 6 Comments »

Demand at West Hartford Food Pantry Doubles

Posted by whforums on November 18, 2008

Just heard on the radio that Mayor Slifka told WNPR that demand at West Hartford food pantries is up 97% over a year ago. I’m not much for numbers, but I think that’s almost double.

If you can give, give.

Maybe also consider donating a grocery store gift card to one of West Hartford’s schools. I don’t know if this is frowned upon or no, but I’d bet administration will make sure an anonymous gift card winds up in the hands of a family who needs it.

Posted in West Hartford | Tagged: , | Leave a Comment »

ACLU Cites Higher Arrest Rates for Minority Students in West Hartford

Posted by whforums on November 18, 2008

The ACLU yesterday released a report about minority student arrest rates in Hartford, East Hartford and West Hartford that revealed some startling data. Some of the “highlights,” from the ACLU press release:

  • In 2006-2007, black and hispanic students represented 24 percent of the student population, but 63 percent of all arrests.
  • Black students in West Hartford were twice as likely to be arrested after a fight than were white students.
  • and … “students of color committing minor disciplinary infractions were more likely to get arrested than white students committing the very same offenses.”

In The Courant, Police Chief Strillacci responded skeptically, arguing that not all fights are made equal, that arrests can be a socially positive force and defending the School Resource Officers at Hall and Conard.

You can read the ACLU’s entire 50 page report here. For me, it’s weekend reading.

My quick .02, based on the highly publicized data — I think West Hartford’s SROs rock, and I think our teachers rock. But I find the data extremely disturbing. There’s a long pipeline of people between the incident that occurs, the documentation of that incident, the witnesses to that incident, the intervention of administration, the intervention of the SRO and the intervention of other officers. And all along that pathway there are opportunities for latent, unexamined and perhaps even unconsidered prejudice to accumulate and inflect the equal rights of all students. This is not an accusation of racism — this is an argument that we all hold unexamined prejudices that shape and impact our day to day experience and actions in ways we likely don’t notice. It’s also an argument that, because of that prejudice, school may be a very different place for a student depending on the tone of their skin. For a district as concerned with the achievement gap as West Hartford, that’s something that should make everyone stand up and take notice.

Given these numbers (and it’s the third bullet that really gets me), and whatever we think of the ACLU report, it seems that at the least it presents each of us with the opportunity to take a step back, examine our prejudices and our parenting. West Hartford, if there’s even a semblance of validity in these numbers, then somewhere, we (that’s you, me and our town as a whole) have a problem.

Another looming concern here — the potential scapegoating of the School Resource Officers, who, in this context make an easy target. Blaming the SROs seems not only irresponsible, but an easy way to “deal” with a problem without making it go away. School Resource Officers have difficult and dangerous jobs, and to lay a town’s problems at the feet of one public servant who enacts policy but does not influence it seems at best misguided …

Posted in Hartford, Uncategorized, West Hartford, WHPS | Tagged: , , | 1 Comment »

Monday Morning Quick Hits

Posted by whforums on November 16, 2008

Four quick hits for your Monday morning.

1. This piece from the Hartford Courant about Superintendent Sklarz’ salary and benefits. Bringing in a new superintendent will bring significant short term salary relief (we’d hope), and maybe some of those more extreme benefits (like $6,000 for driving your own car) could go away, too. The picture associated with the story is priceless (as long as you’re not the superintendent!).

2. The Courant also offers up this informative (though generally optimistic) read of BBS. Condos are still available if you want in (or can afford to get in).

3. A quick, positive review of The Counter over at Adventures through Connecticut. The wife and I have eaten at The Counter (I’m something of an english muffin fiend, and the idea of putting my burger on an english muffin was a vague form of heaven) and thought it was great. Surprisingly hard place to get into — but once PF Chang’s opens (have you seen the front of PF Changs and how it’s reshaped the mall? That’s for another post …), I’m sure that will relieve some pressure …

4. Most importantly, check out this post about Regionalism and Greater Hartford over at The Greater Hartford Real Estate Blog. It’s an informative and essential read for anyone interested in the topic of regionalism or the general future well being of the communities we share.

Posted in Blue Back Square, Quick Hits, Regionalism, West Hartford, West Hartford Restaurants, WHPS | Tagged: , | 10 Comments »

Quinnipiac 63, Hartford 62

Posted by whforums on November 15, 2008

In West Hartford we spend a lot of time talking about our great public schools while ignoring the fact that within our borders we have 3 colleges/universities (Saint Joseph College, UCONN-Hartford and the University of Hartford).  With Capital Community College and Tunxis Communitiy College just up and down the road respectively, and with Central Connecticut State just around the corner, West Hartford has the good fortune at being at the nexus of a lot of cultural events.

Between all of those institutions of higher learning, we also have two under-covered (and under-attended) division one basketball teams — the University of Hartford Hawks and the Central Connecticut Blue Devils.  The University of Hartford’s women’s team has done extremely well over the past three seasons, winning two NCAA tournament games.  The CCSU men have also advanced to the NCAAs, getting bounced by Greg Oden and Ohio State.

The Hartford men, on the other hand, have yet to make the NCAA tournament, although they did make the America East championship game last year.  As the team of our town (though not by name nor entirely by geography), and as a NCAA tournament team in waiting, this blog is adopting them for the 2008-2009 season.

The first result?  A not so stirring 63-62 loss to Quinnipiac last night.  You can get the details here.

Up next?  What is sure to be Hartford’s most covered game of the season — a showdown with UCONN on Monday.

Posted in Hartford, Local Sports, West Hartford | Tagged: , | Leave a Comment »

This Is Why We Don’t Pay The WHPD Enough …

Posted by whforums on November 14, 2008

We’re tempted to dismiss them as random acts of violence, but the stuff that’s been keeping the WHPD busy this week is all decidedly motivated, even if we don’t necessarily understand the motivations.

First there was the brutal beating (baseball bat + hatchet) of a West Hartford homeless man. You can read about the entire strange story here (though I’d guess you pretty much know the story already). What strikes me is how easy it is to call this a “random” (though motivated) act of violence to attempt to argue to ourselves that we are not capable of doing exactly what the accused is, well, accused of doing. Which is in no way to draw sympathy away from the victim (where it belongs), but is simply to bring a note of introspection to what otherwise may seem humanly impossible in our “own skin.”

WHPD also got summoned to East Hampton this week to deal with a police standoff issue. Essentially, East Hampton police summoned Middletown police who in turn summoned West Hartford police. Why? Because we have an armored personnel carrier (did you know we had an armored personnel carrier? I’m not sure if that makes me feel more or less secure). In any case, the story ends terribly, but you can read it here if you’d like.

Mercy demands justice, justice demands mercy, etc. ….

Posted in Crime, West Hartford, WHPD | Tagged: , , | 5 Comments »

I Love You, Goldroc Diner

Posted by whforums on November 11, 2008

So, my wife and I have both been working a lot of hours lately. Like, a lot.

We both got home after 8:30 last night and neither of us had the energy to cook anything. But we wanted comfort food, and we wanted it cheap. So we went to Goldroc.

Growing up in West Hartford, Goldroc was always something of a mystery to me — it seemed like everyone had eaten there (and some folks ate there a lot), but I never had. Nor did I particularly care to — I mean, what did I care about diners when I had a mother who was essentially running one in her own home. When I moved back here (11 years after leaving) with my wife we thought it was going to be impossible to find a decent breakfast beyond bagels (I love, love, love Lox Stock, too, but there are only so many bagels a man can eat. I also hadn’t discovered Mo’s Midtown at this point), and that’s how we discovered Goldroc. Ever since, it’s been one of our favorite breakfast spots and our default comfort food location.

Don’t get me wrong. It’s not that the food is great (it’s good, but it’s not like, OMG cuisine — it’s more, O.M.G … FOOOD — it fulfills a deep need to devour fat and salt, to devour what our environment may not make readily available), it’s that in its grease, in its diner coffee (by which I mean wildly inconsistent, but even good when it’s “bad coffee”) and in the way it has always led me to interesting space between devouring and conversation (conversations while devouring are totally different from conversations while not devouring), it has this really surprising sense of home.

Such that:

I think if I died at Goldroc with just a cup of coffee and a plate of fries in front of me, I’d probably die happy (assuming I had a chance to drink some of the coffee and eat some of the fries first — and assuming I’m not so old that I can longer taste either of them).

or

Such That:

Goldroc feels so much like home, it’s the only restaurant in where I can imagine playing a game of Strat-O-Matic baseball.

Anyway, I have to go back to work, so here’s your topic for the day:

Goldroc rocks.

Discuss.

Posted in Things to Do, West Hartford, West Hartford Restaurants | Tagged: , | Leave a Comment »

Celebrate (or Mourn) Blue Back Square’s First Birthday This Weekend

Posted by whforums on November 7, 2008

Either way, you get cake.

Sponsored by CBS Radio, BBS’ first birthday party has all kinds of strange goodies for you, like free flashlights, free tooth whitening, and “one free workout” (you’ll have to decide the ideal order in which to undertake these activities. There’s a jeweler offering free cider, but I fear this may only complicate things …). Whole Foods is serving up the cake, but it’s only good whlie supplies last, likely giving an advantage to those who can watch the cake be deployed from their windows (*shakes fist at the wealthy*).

Anyway, food, fun and entertainment this Saturday at BBS from 11-3. Rain date is Sunday 11-3. I think it would be great to see supporters and opponents of BBS sharing cake — it’s sort of the “West Hartford” way of breaking bread, yes?

Check out the flyer (it’s a .pdf) here.

Posted in Blue Back Square, Giant Cake, Things to Do, West Hartford | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »