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Welcome to Long Island City, Amazon (And maybe Connecticut)

Welcome to Long Island City, Amazon! (And maybe Connecticut). We hope you’ll look to high-speed ferries to give your employees great choices on where to live and easily commute from. Fairfield County can be minutes away via high-speed ferries offering close-knit, small-town communities, excellent universities, terrific public and private schools, and beautiful homes with open space land — giving your new employees wonderful choices where their families can grow.

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How long, oh Lord, how long?

The following is the text of the speech given at community candlelight Vigil for the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh last Sunday at Congregation Beth Israel in West Hartford.

How long, oh Lord, how long?
My soul is in deep anguish.
How long, oh Lord, how long?

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Hartford raises the age for buying tobacco products. It’s a good start.

Congratulations to the Hartford City Council on passing an ordinance that raises the age of sale of tobacco products to 21. The ordinance, which was introduced by Councilman Larry Deutsch, makes Hartford the first city in the State of Connecticut to pass this policy. The ordinance, which includes the purchase of electronic cigarettes, was passed just weeks after an announcement from the State Department of Public Health that the number of high school students using electronic cigarettes doubled in just two years.

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Nagging questions about the future of Hartford’s South Meadows

Which is better for the residents of Hartford: a trash- to- energy plant or a 250 megawatt gas- fired power plant? City officials have voiced strong opposition to the current proposal to modernize the waste processing facility in Hartford’s South Meadows, arguing there are better uses for the site, and that the facility imposes significant health impacts on residents. The City Council impaneled a Solid Waste Task Force to consider alternatives for managing the city’s waste. While some council members have spoken of marinas or upscale riverfront condominiums, the area is suitable only for commercial/ industrial development.

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We all bear the cost of evictions

On September 5, the Harriet Beecher Stowe Center in Hartford awarded its annual Stowe Prize to writer and professor Matthew Desmond, whose work highlights the impact of evictions on poor people in America. Desmond is the author of the 2017 Pulitzer Prize winning book Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City, which follows eight families facing eviction in Milwaukee, WI. The real genius of Desmond’s contribution ) is that it highlights the ways in which the costs of evictions, although brutally imposed on the poor, are also borne by the wider community. This includes Hartford, which has one of the nation’s highest eviction rates.

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Criticisms of the kneeling protest are ‘hollow, self-serving, gratuitous’

The continuous unfolding news accounts of Haddam Selectwoman Melissa Schlag and her exercise of free speech rights by taking a knee on July 16 and kneeling on both knees at (the July 30) Monday’s Board of Selectmen fortnightly meetings have drawn the attention of the state and nation, with a mix of ire and support by local residents and veterans as her actions were vilified loudly by political campaigners for statewide office, and later with an additional pile on by other candidates.

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On Hamden’s tragic fiscal decline

Twenty five years ago Hamden was a healthy, thriving town with generally happy residents. Taxes were manageable, schools were good and the town had excellent services. Town workers were fairly paid and got great benefits, particularly top-notch, town-funded health care and a generous defined-benefit pension plan. The Hamden real estate market had its ups and downs but was as strong as most in the area. Unfortunately, decades of miss-management and union commiseration have reversed the town’s strong prognosis.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.