Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Bad Ad

I was a little startled (just in time for Halloween!) by a full-page ad in today's Republican-American. It featured a poor-quality photograph of Jarjura surrounded by an assortment of Rep-Am headlines, some of which read along the lines of "Mayor is criticized", while others pertain to issues like condo projects and WDC (I suppose there's no point mentioning that the mayor doesn't run WDC--it has a board of directors that includes one of the Independent party's Aldermen). The ad implies that Jarjura is yet another corrupt Waterbury politician, which really isn't fair. I can't say that I agree with everything he's done (but since does anyone agree with everything?), but Jarjura is nothing at all like Waterbury's infamous corrupt politicians. I suppose mudslinging and casting aspersions are a standard practice in politics, but I still don't have any respect for it. I prefer to be given reasons to vote for candidates, not reason to fearfully vote against them. That just leaves me not wanting to vote at all.

If all of that weren't bad enough, it actually took me some effort to figure out who ran the ad. In relatively small print, at the bottom of the page, the ad encourages me to vote for Odle. There is one positive statement, in which Odle (I assume--it's not clear who is making the statement) promises that his economic development plan will benefit only the people of Waterbury, not his administration (which doesn't really make sense, but okay).

Tuesday, October 30, 2007


The election is one week away, and until today I had not received any campaign mailings. This is not particularly a complaint, but it does seem strange. The last few years, I had an onslaught of mailings showing up at my home. Is it my address? How do the campaign people select mailing addresses--do they mail to every address in the Registrar of Voters database?

The mail I received today was from Mayor Jarjura (addressed to Current Resident). If his campaign office has my address, don't the others have it as well? Don't they want my vote? (Insert sarcastic whining here.)

I suppose it has to do with voter turnout for each neighborhood. Which is why I'm in favor of Aldermen by district. If you have a neighborhood with low voter turnout, the current system doesn't give our politicians any reason to care about that neighborhood. And as soon as a neighborhood feels like the city doesn't care about them, the more likely it is to fall apart. Which makes voter turnout go down even further.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Dawn Raids

I was woken up today at 5am by the sound of extremely loud gunshots. I think there was a total of 5 shots over a minute or so. In between I could just barely hear "this is the police" coming from a megaphone. Judging by how difficult it was to hear the police officer, I would say that this was happening many blocks away, but the gun shots sounded like they were right outside my house (they weren't).

I've been checking the news periodically throughout the day to see if anyone was reporting on what happened. The full details still aren't available, but the short version is that the Waterbury police department arrested more than 70 people throughout the city for felony gun and drug charges. I guess at least one idiot decided to resist arrest.

In between shots this morning, I started wishing we had tighter gun control laws. I know there are a million people who would be eager to tell me why it's good that guns are so easily available, but when you hear someone shooting up your neighborhood, you start wishing for a total ban. On the other hand, I absolutely appreciate the work that the Waterbury PD puts into minimizing illegal gun activity in the city. Unlike other Connecticut cities (New Haven, Hartford), Waterbury is not plagued by random shootings. It seems like there's a major raid every year or so, and it seems to help.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Deadly Intersection

Yesterday there was a second fatality for the year at the intersection of Walnut and Wood Streets. I'm kind of surprised there aren't more. It's a terrible intersection to navigate. If you're traveling eastbound (more or less) on Wood Street, there is an abandoned apartment building on your left that completely blocks your view of any cars traveling south on Walnut, and there are usually cars parked to the right which block your view of vehicles coming up the hill. So, typically, you're faced with two choices: either edge slowly out into the middle of the street until you can see the cars that are about to hit you; or just floor it and hope for the best.

The nearby intersection of Walnut, North Walnut and East Farm is almost as bad. There the visibility is okay, but there is absolutely no way to tell who has the right of way.

Making these intersections all-way stops would be a huge safety improvement, maybe even enough to prevent further deaths.

I wouldn't mind seeing the empty apartment building torn down to widen the intersection. Maybe they could put in some parking spaces for the restaurants. And while I'm dreaming, maybe they could also build a playground in the empty lot on the east side of Walnut. There aren't any parks in walking distance, so the kids in this neighborhood have no where to play except the street and other peoples' yards (which is how a boy on Wood Street wound up getting attacked by a dog recently).

Friday, October 12, 2007

Housing Sex Offenders

The big news this week has been about a serial rapist who has completed his jail sentence and is moving into his sister's home in Southbury. Judging by the coverage in the paper, you might think this is the first time a convicted rapist has ever moved back into a community.

A quick check with the state registry shows 5 convicted sex offenders already live in Southbury. A quick check with reality suggests that there might very well be a rapist who has never been caught living in Southbury, or could be soon. Knowing the whereabouts of convicted sex offenders seems to create a false sense of security when there aren't any convicts in the neighborhood. People seem to forget that there is a greater danger posed by the unidentified sex offenders, whom everyone trusts.

The state's attorney general pushed to have the rapist instead placed in a halfway house, but wouldn't those neighbors also have equal cause for concern?

Naturally, nobody wants a serial rapist living next door, but at least with this guy the neighbors know not to trust him. Some of them might be in danger of going too far. This is the sort of situation that could turn into a lynching. At the very least, his family will probably be harassed. I think this has been the plot of several stories--the fear of evil incites people to commit evil.

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Better Graffiti

A while back, I posted a few images of graffiti in Waterbury. This afternoon, I went for a walk and found some better examples. The graffiti most people are going to see in Waterbury is extremely minimal, presumably because the artists only have a couple of seconds in which to get them done. The best ones are in remote areas.

This might be my favorite, just for the sense of humor. I couldn't get close enough to get a good view of the larger work, but it looks like it's probably one of Pezo's. It's on the side of an old clock factory on Maple Street, viewable (sort of) from North Elm Street.
graffiti - thank god 4 art

This one is up high, on the side of the old Benrus factory building (now Bender Plumbing) on Cherry Street:

Some older and newer tags on the side of a building that's right up against the Mad River, viewable from the riverside walk at the Brass Mill mall:
graffiti - if art is a crime, may god forgive me

The most complex Waterbury graffiti I've found so far is viewable at the end of Mill Street. There's no easy way to get to the actual wall it's on, unless you're willing to walk under the highway.

This is the other side of the underpass. It's way too creepy a place for me to go into on my own, so I stuck with looking at it from above.

This is a little bit further down the wall:

There's a ton of tags on Cherry Avenue, but most of them are pretty lightweight.

I'd like to meet Pezo. He's got a great creative streak.

Downtown Draw

The Third Annual Downtown Draw was held on the Green today. Below is a sampling of some of the chalk drawings.

Monday, October 01, 2007

Sidewalks & Jaywalking

A couple of weeks ago, I decided to walk from Grand Street to Barnes & Noble. It's a short walk, and there are (I thought) plenty of good sidewalks and crossing lights all the way there. As you can see from the photo below, the sidewalk abruptly and randomly ends just past St. Mary's. There's no crosswalk where the sidewalk ends. So I jaywalked across to the sidewalk on the other side.

The rest of the walk to the mall was on a good sidewalk, except for the disturbing way the guard rail doesn't protect pedestrians from out-of-control cars. Instead, the guard rail pretty much guarantees that the pedestrian will be crushed between the car and the rail.

I hit a new problem when I reached the mall entrance. There is no walkway to the stores, and the railing is positioned so close to the curb that you have to walk in the roadway, which is barely wide enough for cars.

The really sad thing is that this is one of the better areas for pedestrians in Waterbury.