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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?

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

Help Me Quaker Green, You’re My Only Hope

Posted by whforums on September 4, 2008

For “whatever reason,” we’ve been written up in “My Midwest Magazine,” the in-flight magazine of Midwest Airlines (I know, I know – there’s a Midwest Airlines?).  Focusing mostly on the Quaker Green project (though also somewhat on Blue Back Square), the article essentially argues that, in this down economy and slow real estate market, West Hartford – and Elmwood particularly –  is a boom town.

And certainly there’s some truth to this.  If you take a look at what’s being said on the Greater Hartford Real Estate Blog and in the West Hartford News, it seems like there’s good reason to believe that the real estate market in West Hartford is at the very least percolating, and certainly not as badly affected as the national market generally.  But what’s particularly revealing about this article is not its supposed shot in the dark accuracy re: our real estate market, but instead the developer infused enthusiasm  that cynically seeks to portray the 60,000 of us as either a national salvation or, at the very least, some sort of new urban, old New England utopia.

The article argues that Elmwood is undertaking a “terrific upsurge in business development, with two new national chains building “in the area” (Price Rite and ALDI).  The article also says that with “business booming in Elmwood, there may be hope in an otherwise faltering real estate market.”  (Such that: America, on bended knee, speaks to us and says:  “Help me, Elmwood, you’re my only hope.”)  And who gets the credit for this boom?  Well, according to the author, “one developer polished a diamond in the rough – and transformed an enitre section of town in the process.”   In other words, if Elmwood is the Obi-Wan of a nation’s real estate crisis, we’re supposed to believe that Quaker Green is the Obi-Wan of Elmwood’s own crisis.

And if you’re buying all the optimism, the folks at Quaker Green would like you to know that 8 out of 20 condo units – and half of Quaker Green’s townhouses – are still available.  And I’m sure all of this sounds pretty good when you’re stuck on the tarmac in Milwaukee.

But let’s just imagine you are stuck in the tarmac in Milwaukee, and maybe you’ve heard something about some square … read about it in the New York Times or on some web ‘zine or something. Well, the article is quick to point out that the spaces in BBS, “a new, high-end live-work-play development,” are mostly being sold to “empty nesters … often as second homes.”  Doesn’t sound too live-work-play, does it?

You can check out the article here.  I’d be interested to hear your reactions – and I’ll start with my own:

We must resist the flattery of capital that develops “the news” in order to portray itself as each of our salvations.

Posted in Blue Back Square, Elmwood, National News, Sorry I'm So Cynical, West Hartford, West Hartford Center | Tagged: , , , | 1 Comment »

Is Visconti’s Campaign Strapped for Cash?

Posted by whforums on July 21, 2008

As many of you already know, Republican councilperson Joe Visconti is running for US Representative in Connecticut’s first district (that’s us) this fall against incumbent Democrat John Larson. And as you likely also know, since winning the seat vacated by Barbara Kennelly in 1998, Larson has absolutely thrashed his competition (beating Scott MacLean in 2006 74% to 26%). In a district that’s almost impossible to win for Republicans, and in an election season that seems to be difficult sledding for Republicans, Visconti’s candidacy seems to either suggest a cynically calculated grab for name recognition or a bold ambition and idealism.

Regardless of Visconti’s motivations, the Bristol Press is reporting that Visconti’s “campaign treasurer wrote on July 9 to the Federal Election Commission that Visconti, a West Hartford businessman aiming to unseat U.S. Rep. John Larson, had neither raised nor spent $5,000 yet.” Larson, meanwhile, had raised $700,000 by April, with more than $200,000 cash on hand. The Bristol Press compares Visconti’s current fundraising to Green Party candidate Stephen Fournier, who has also raised less than $5,000. In other words, Larson has outraised both Visconti and Fournier at least 140:1.

Granted — it’s July, and a lot can happen between now and November. But if Visconti is really serious about unseating John Larson and heading to Washington this winter, he’s got a lot of work — and apparently a lot of fundraising — ahead of him.

The consequences of lagging in fundraising are self evident. But Ghengis Conn (the blogger behind ctlocalpolitics.net) spells out (with many cool graphs, I might add) what he believes will be an ugly November for Visconti:

“In the last election (2007) Visconti squeaked into a town council seat by polling 4,563 votes. Mayor Scott Slifka led the voting with 9,591. Will he do better than MacLean? Probably. But he obviously isn’t going to touch Larson, not even in West Hartford. His story is the story of every Republican candidate in the 1st. He won’t raise much money, he probably won’t get on TV, national Republicans will ignore him and the media will forget he even exists. Larson will end up winning by a huge margin–and in a year when Republicans are having a tough time anyway, Visconti is in for a drubbing.”

Might be time to spur that horse, Joe …

Links:

Visconti for Congress

Larson for Congress

Fournier for Congress

image source

Posted in 2008 Election, Local Democracy, National News | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »

West Hartford Man Climbs New York Times Building, Unfurls Banner

Posted by whforums on July 9, 2008

A 29 year old who is being portrayed as a “West Hartford man” (or a “West Hartford activist”) by local and national media climbed the New York Times building this morning and unfurled a banner reading “Bin Laden’s Plan” (apparently the name of the man’s book and website).

Link to several news reports, as well as some images of the building (which seems pretty climbable, as skyscrapers go) after the jump.

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in National News | Tagged: , | Leave a Comment »