Saturday, April 28, 2007

Campaign Season

Thanks to voters being afraid to let our city officials stay in office more than two years at a time, we've got another election this fall. Odds are most of our elected officials will be re-elected, which makes me wonder why switching to a four-year system was voted down two years ago.

Tremaglio recently announced that he's running again. He says he doesn't expect to win, but that his running will help save Waterbury's Republican party. What ego! The Republicans already have two viable candidates, D'Amelio and Odle. The party has already squabbled publicly, since some of them want to just throw all their support behind D'Amelio, avoiding any divisiveness with Odle supporters. By presenting himself as a third candidate, Tremaglio will just cause more divisiveness. Not to mention that Tremaglio is kind of sleazy, and possibly racist (two years ago, he was quoted several times as saying that "there is an element on the Green that scares people"--I've been told that "element" is a code word used by Waterbury racists when they would rather use the n-word).

I haven't seen anything about whether or not Larry DePillo will be running again. He had a letter to the editor published in today's paper that sounded a bit like campaigning--praising a police officer for removing rocks from the middle of the road. DePillo seemed to think this was going above and beyond the call of duty. I suspect that removing debris from the roadway in order to prevent an accident is probably required of all police officers.

I had the impression that Karen Mulcahy was going to join DePillo's party and become their candidate, but she has announced that she's running again as Democrat. I don't think she'll do as well this time, although maybe she'll be picking up DePillo's votes. Two years ago, her campaign was based on a specific hot topic. For most of the past two years, she's been invisible in local politics. Her recent appearances have not been inspiring--just speeches designed to scare voters, without any specifics. I supported her last time, but I definitely won't support her this time. She seems bitter and ineffectual.

Vance has decided against running for mayor, but will still run for re-election as alderman. Jarjura will, of course, be running again and will almost certainly win again. Last time he won with 7,900 votes. He should be able to do that again this time (although you never know what might happen between now and November!).

Monday, April 23, 2007

It's That Time!

We've had some beautiful weather the past few days. Sunny, in the 70s, and just the right humidity level. Last night stayed warm enough for me to leave the windows open. I love waking up to fresh air.

Today the weather is supposed to go too far--predictions are for 85 degrees overall in the state. Downtown Waterbury might very well get up to 90. I think it's in a sort of basin formed by the surrounding hills, which I guess is what makes it always significantly warmer than the surrounding area.

When this weather pattern started, everyone's mood improved. We went from weeks of cold, dark and rain to warmth and sun. The first few nights sounded like the entire city was celebrating, opening windows, playing music, breaking out the grills and generally having a good time.

After tomorrow, the weather is supposed to go back to normal temps, getting up into only the 60s during the day. But that will still be better than cold, dark and rainy!

Monday, April 16, 2007

Graffiti & Litter

One of my biggest gripes about Waterbury is the litter and decay. There are a lot of properties that are either abandoned or have absentee landlords and messy tenants. The abandoned properties are the worst. They become dumping grounds almost overnight. I used to live next to two empty lots on Willow Street. The grass and weeds were usually so overgrown you couldn't see most of the trash that was everywhere. The owners of the lots hadn't paid taxes on them in years, and no one could buy the lots, because the back taxes owed were tied up in the TaxServe nightmare.

There are also properties that I assume are city owned--like the Welton Street School--which are just as abandoned and blighted as anything else. And there are untold miles of sidewalk that have deteriorated so much that they are unusable.

Last year there was a rash of graffiti that really angered city officials. It wasn't the content of the graffiti that angered them, it was just the existence of the graffiti. I didn't like the way the city handled the problem. Or, more accurately, I didn't like the way the city thought the graffiti was a bigger problem than the litter and decay.

There was a "litter summit" this past weekend. I'm hoping that the city will finally get their act together, get the city cleaned up, and keep it clean.

When visitors to the city see streets filled with litter and fences that are half falling down and rusted, they automatically assume that they are in a dangerous place. A well-maintained property inspires confidence and a feeling of safety. (Fixing up the City Hall building is tied into this--our shabby looking City Hall reflects the shabbiness of the city as a whole.)

Personally, I like some of the graffiti that's appeared lately (and I can't help but notice that most of the graffiti is showing up on properties that already look like hell). I'd like to see a little more creativity though. We've got two or three dedicated graffiti artists, and I know that there's a thing about leaving your tag, but it would be great if they came up with some new designs.

I've only got a couple examples of the graffiti photographed right now. If I ever get a little free time during the day, I'm going to do a drive through the city and snap some photos. One of my favorites is over near Waterville. It reads (in hot pink) "Peso no homo." Hot pink. There's a story there.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Pizza Places

Last week there were a couple of days when I was too busy to make dinner, and I had a craving for a calzone. It's been a while since I last had a calzone, so I forgot what my opinions are about local calzones. There are probably dozens of pizza places in Waterbury (we really don't need any more Italian restaurants!), and I can't claim to have tried them all, but here are my thoughts on the ones I have tried (now that my memory has been refreshed).

Dominick & Pia's (on Spring Street, across from UConn-Waterbury) has the best pizza. Their dough is delicious, their sauce is spectacular, and the pizza box is tied shut with string by a little old Italian lady.

Louie's Pizza (on East Main Street, across from UConn-Waterbury) has good chef salads and good pizza, but while I do like their pizza, it's not particularly memorable.

Zachary's (on East Main Street, across from the WAMS magnet school) has the best Greek salads, but I do not like the dough they use for their pizzas and calzones. It seems too processed, almost waxy or spongy. I do like, however, their cheese mix for the calzones--more mozzarella than ricotta.

The calzones from Rocky's (in Bunker Hill) have really good dough, and they're really large, but they use a little too much ricotta for my tastes.

The absolute best calzones I've ever had were at the Pizza Cafe (on West Main Street, near the intersection of Willow and Meadow Streets).

One of my other favorite craving foods is a meatball grinder. I have yet to find a place in Waterbury that makes a really great meatball grinder (although I haven't searched very hard). There's a place in Florence, Massachusetts that I used to eat at thirteen years ago. Their meatball grinders were perfection. The bread was toasted and they added grilled green peppers and onions. Someday I hope to find an equally good meatball grinder in Waterbury.