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Archive for the ‘Media’ Category

They’re Talking about the ACLU Report in New York and Chicago …

Posted by whforums on January 9, 2009

As you probably know, a few weeks ago (way back in 2008 ) the ACLU released a report that cited alarming arrest rates in West Hartford, Hartford and East Hartford schools. The ACLU’s essential concern was that, in our schools, “the trend is toward criminalizing students, not educating them.” The “them” in that sentence, however, is the real problem — the ACLU found that there are significant racial and ethnic disparities in school-based arrests. You can read my “close-reading” of the ACLU report as it relates to West Hartford directly in the post West Hartford and the ACLU’s “Hard Lessons” Report. The report is linked for download in that post as well.

What’s surprised me, in a period that’s been fairly lively for this blog, has been the lack of local conversation about the ACLU report. I mean, maybe there’s nothing to say — maybe we implicitly (or explicitly) accept discrimination and this report fails to elicit dialog because it confirms an implicit belief. Yet when it comes to protecting and developing an equal quality of life (and, more basically, equal treatment for all people), there’s little more poisonous than complacency.

With out without us, the web is becoming less and less complacent about the report. Around the web …:

➫ Shortly after the release of the report, “a public defender” (a Connecitcut legal blog) wrote a post that echoed the ACLU’s sentiment about the “school to prison pipeline” and, in the comments section, connected the finding to the racial and ethnic disparity in the American prison population.

➫ On January 4th, the New York Times wrote an editorial citing the report, arguing that “Connecticut and other states also need to issue public reports of school-based arrests and take steps to ensure that they are not racially motivated.” While the NYT recognizes that the problems cited in West Hartford, East Hartford and Hartford are not just local problems, we can’t ignore that the word “Connecticut” at the start of that sentence is at least in part a pronoun for “West Hartford, East Hartford and Hartford.”

➫ On Monday, Small Talk, an education blog in Chicago, picked up the story, using the report (and the arrest disparities in West Hartford/East Hartford specifically) as a way to argue against what it perceives to be “barbaric school district policies.”

The short of it? Conversation about the report is happening, and Greater Hartford is the proxy (or worse, the example) for that conversation. While West Hartford, East Hartford and Hartford may only be ways for many communities to beging to talk about a larger, national problem, that does nothing to change the fact that the report is screaming at our communities “the problem may be ours, but we can prove it’s yours.” Which leaves me with the question I started with one month ago — what steps do we take, both big and small, in light of the ACLU’s report?

Posted in Hartford, Institutionalized Discrimination, Local Democracy, Media, National News, West Hartford, WHPS | Tagged: , , , | 7 Comments »

To Take You into The Weekend …

Posted by whforums on December 19, 2008

Two quick West Hartford Centery tidbits:

1. The town has signed a contract with Parcxmart for a debit/credit card on-street parking system. The card could also be used as a debit/credit card with participating local merchants. Sounds like, at least initially, you’ll run into a $500 limit, so if you find yourself spending a lot of money in the Center, you may have to recharge the card quite a bit. Expect to see the “West Hartford Center Credit/Debit Card” to launch in “first quarter 2009.” Get the full press release here.

2. Let me point you to the work of Andy Perez. Perez was tasked with the job of creating a web ad (dunno if it’s destined for life beyond the web?) for West Hartford Center. If you’re a process oriented person, you can see the process he followed, as well as his own blog post about the ad, on his blog. If you’re one of those “product-only” people, you can watch the ad on the “center and square” website (I had no clue until recently that that site existed).

Andy, I think the ad is great (especially the dancing Noah statue — if Noah could dance, well, I think you stone-cold got his moves)  — if you hadn’t said so, I’d never have guessed it was your first ad. But for the next draft, I need some of those credit/debit cards to float by, too.

Enjoy the snow.

Posted in Blue Back Square, Media, Parking, West Hartford, West Hartford Center, West Hartford Restaurants | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »

BOE Reaction to ACLU Report

Posted by whforums on December 1, 2008

I posted last week about an ACLU report that showed that “minority” students were significantly more likely to be arrested in West Hartford schools than white students.  Real Hartford also has a great post on the topic here. While this story has certainly been a mainstream story (in the Courant, on the TV news, even in the West Hartford News), I’ve been surprised at how little reaction there’s been within the blogosphere (not just in comments, but in general traffic/interest), maybe because, to me, it seems like a pretty significant story.

In any case, the West Hartford News has an interesting piece about the BOE reaction to the report, which can best be described as politic.  The BOE essentially said the following — we take it seriously, if there’s a problem, which there isn’t.  They called into question the data collection methods of the ACLU, the lack of presence of West Hartford officials in the study, and a declining number of arrests since the implementation of the SRO program.

All of which sort of brings me back to square one.  The problem, folks, isn’t with the SROs, but is instead the institutional discrimination (likely not conscious) which calcifies the processes of almost any large scale organization.  This isn’t about some “boss” making decisions, it’s about the unexamined prejudices of the many, slowly rolling together into silent discrimination against the disempowered.

The argument, then, as of December 1st, 2008, looks like this:

The ACLU says:  The numbers demonstrate that children of different races and ethnicities are treated differently. (Implicit:  Institutional racism.  Look in the mirror).

WHPS says:  Oh, that’s a problem if it’s true.  Good thing we know it’s not true.  (We will not look in the mirror, but thanks).

Posted in Institutionalized Discrimination, Media, WHPS | Tagged: , , | 4 Comments »

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 »

Heard on WTIC This Morning

Posted by whforums on November 6, 2008

“I’m very disappointed in the election results. And what I want to know now is … who’s going to stand up for white people?”

Realization: It’s not that the radical right is always trying to scare people, it’s that they’re always afraid.

Posted in 2008 Election, Media | Tagged: , | 17 Comments »

So, These Oakwood Avenue Shootings

Posted by whforums on November 1, 2008

I’d be curious to hear the general town reaction to the October 19th shootings at the UAW Hall on Oakwood. You know, the “baby shower shootings” (as if a shooting on the periphery of a baby shower is worse than a shooting anywhere else).

As I read through the coverage, it seemed pretty obvious that there was a (non-organized, unconscious) desire to make the forceful, implicit argument that the violence came to West Hartford but didn’t start here — that the violence had its origin in some other town where these sorts of things happen. And at the same time, I found myself wondering, had this shooting happened a half mile down the road — in Hartford rather than in West Hartford, would it have received the same media attention? Or would it just be another “Hartford shooting?”

So let me get you started with my opinion — which you can probably smell 3 websites away. The sources of this violence are regional, folks, and it’s as much West Hartford’s problem as anyone else’s. And you know what? My guess is that, if we sorted through the news stories from 2008, we’d find a significant percentage of arrested “Hartford Residents” with West Hartford roots.

Here’s the problem. If we continue to dismiss regional violence as a non-regional problem, even if we do so implicitly — if we continue to dismiss this as a problem we can safely appropriate to a city’s limits — then we ignore that its scope, impact and origin are decidedly regional, and our dismissals only serve to perpetuate the violence and its myths. Until our thinking, even in these “belt-tightening” times, is a regional thinking, it’s going to be too easy to close our rental halls (and I don’t blame the UAW for doing that), put our fingers in our ears, and pretend that our greatest problems are our budgets and our development projects — rather than the economic segregation West Hartford (and when I write West Hartford, you better believe I’m writing “You and I”) both enacts and enables.

Posted in Crime, Hartford, Media, Regionalism, Uncategorized, West Hartford | Tagged: , , | 4 Comments »

Watch West Hartford Debates on Your Computer

Posted by whforums on October 29, 2008

Wanted to throw a quick morning link over to WHCTV’s blog/vlog, where local debates are currently available for streaming.  Check out US House 1 (better know as Larson/Visconti/Fournier), CT senate 5 (Harris/Merritt), and CT Assembly 18 (Fleischman/Knox), 19 (Bye/McGrath) and 20 (McCluskey/Thompson/Mertens).  @WHCTV — I still would love to see Town Council and Board of Ed Meetings posted every week, but baby steps to get there, I know.  You folks rock.

Not sure if you’re in CT Assembly 18/19/20?  Use this map to find your street and district.  The map has some craptastic qualities (it’s too small to read as is, and when you zoom in, it’s too large to easily maneuver), but with some practice, you can find out which of these races will appear on your ballot.

Posted in 2008 Election, Local Democracy, Media, West Hartford, WHCTV | Tagged: , , , | 2 Comments »

Casting Your Votes, Down the Ballot

Posted by whforums on October 17, 2008

A couple of quick links this morning as we shift our attention to our next trip to the “privacy screens” — the November 4th election.

First, check out whctv’s programming schedule. Last night, they started showing pre-filmed debates for the 18th, 19th and 20th House districts as well as the 5th Senate district. These debates will keep running through the 4th of November.

If you’re into meeting the candidates more than you’re into watching them on local access, there’s a Candidate Forum at Blue Back Square’s Outdoor Gathering Space on Sunday from 2-4. This is a great opportunity to engage your local democracy by expressing your concerns to those who represent you and your family. It’ll also give you a chance to educate yourself about those names on the ballot that might otherwise make you feel under-informed. Check out a flier for the event in .pdf form (yeah, it’s going to start a download in some browsers) here.

And if you’re not registered to vote, register already. If you’re eligible and unregistered, what’s wrong with you?

More Guest Posts? “If You Build It …”

I’ve sent an email to Larson, Visconti and Fournier asking them to submit guest posts to WH Forums in the last week of October. No promises that we’ll hear from the candidates, but maybe if you folks make enough noise …

Posted in 2008 Election, Blue Back Square, Federal Government, Local Democracy, Media, West Hartford | Tagged: , , | 3 Comments »

Talking Regionalism

Posted by whforums on October 14, 2008

During the very short life of this blog, I’ve posted about “Regionalism” a few times (most obviously here), but whenever I’ve posted about it, it’s been out of some sort of impulse — a gut sense that it’s the right solution (backed by some reading), but without semblance of a way to begin to think about how to implement regional solutions to local and regional problems.

That’s why I was grateful for this weekend’s editorial in the Courant, which lays out a pretty strong case for both the “whys” and “hows” of regional solutions.

I’m even more grateful for Amy Bergquist’s blog, which has a great post about the editorial and which encourages conversation about regionalism as an idea. The post is a must click in the “regionalism conversation,” and may provide a useful common ground for constructive conversation (yes, that means from you) that challenges how we define ourselves as towns, as cities, and as a “metropolitan” area.

We can bicker all we want about taxes and budgets, but in the end, we need to recenter our conversation around the greater social problems (read: poverty, segregation and their consequences) our area faces and the responsibilities each of us has in light of those problems. The post on Amy’s blog may provide a touchstone to refocus ourselves after a bitter budget debate that, in context, not only appears more symptomatic than problematic, but allows us to too easily become complacent in the face of our contemporary ethical crises.

Posted in Linkage!, Media, Regionalism, West Hartford | Tagged: , , | 2 Comments »

Thursday Morning Linkage and FEAR

Posted by whforums on October 2, 2008

Hits on the blog are through the roof over the past 7 days as the referendum approaches (would still like to hear from more new voices — share with your community!). Since there are so many new uniques floating through, I thought I’d take a minute to link out to a few other sites, share some good news, and scare you to death.

So. You wan the linkage first, or the FEAR?

Linkage

Ben continues his ongoing investigation into West Hartford sidewalks that end in abruptly baffling ways over at Observations of the Trailing Spouse (poke around on his site long enough and you’ll find the feature!). I’d particularly like to point you to his post about West Hartford librarians (this has nothing to do with sidewalks, but is still worth your time!), which delivers the encomium they deserve.

Dead Horses Beaten Daily has a new look and a good post about the Business Week article claiming that West Hartford ranks in the top 20 communities most likely to suffer from the craptasticness of our economy. Reader Newvoice1 linked to Business Week in a previous post on this site, but Greg’s site seems like the ideal place to have an organized conversation about the topic.

Good News!

Despite all the doom and gloom about BBS (I’m so sick of people seeing or “hearing about” a store closing and using that as evidence of BBS’ “certain failure”), The Counter (a burger joint) is now open. Note that I do not extrapolate from the opening of a business the potential success or failure of the entire neighborhood around it.

FEAR

Yes. “Melamine tainted candy” has found its way to West Hartford. I think after 8 years of “mushroom cloud” and “economic” “crises,” my capacity to be scared by industrial chemicals has taken on a White Noise sort of quality in that I expect to be asked by my leaders (and my news anchors) to confront my mortality in an almost daily way. God, I so want to go Prufrock (or Heidegger?) on everyone …

Anyway, The Courant has an article here.

And, While I Have You Here …

… I feel compelled to link back to an (eerily prescient) article from The Onion on W’s inauguration in ’01:

Bush: ‘Our Long National Nightmare Of Peace And Prosperity Is Finally Over’

Right. Back to the referendum, then …

Posted in Abstract Babble, Linkage!, Media, National News, West Hartford, West Hartford Restaurants | Tagged: , , , | 1 Comment »