Wednesday, March 18, 2009


Here comes Spring!

If it's warm enough this weekend, I think I'll drag my bicycle out of the basement and over to the linear park in Cheshire.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Counting the Donuts

Here's the newest (I think!) Dunkin Donuts in Waterbury, on Wolcott Street. How many does that make? Using Google Maps, I count 18 Dunkin Donuts in Waterbury. Using the phonebook, only 16.

I estimate approximately one Dunkin Donuts for every six or seven thousand people in Waterbury. I guess we like their coffee & donuts!

I suppose it's the drive-through and on-the-go advertising that are the key to their success. I prefer local, real coffee shops, like John Bale, Barci's and the long-gone Brass City Buzz, but those are places to relax, hang out, socialize. Dunkin Donuts is for when you're in a hurry and need an infusion of caffeine and/or sugar, which seems ironically uncivilized.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Kicking Her When She's Down [revised]

[Sorry for the revision of this post--as a general rule, I don't make significant changes to my posts, but this issue inspired me to write something longer and more complex as a letter to the editor later in the day, and I think it makes sense to post that here. The content of the original post is still here.]

I have noticed with dismay that the Board of Aldermen is frequently sidetracked by petty bickering. When we elect the Aldermen, we do so with the assumption (or perhaps just the hope) that we are electing mature, responsible adults who will behave in a professional manner. Instead, what we have been “treated” to on countless occasions over the past year is the unsightly spectacle of Aldermen behaving like spoiled adolescents who have tantrums and hold grudges that interfere with the business of government. How many times did the Independent Aldermen refuse to participate in subcommittee meetings because Alderman Arthur J. Denze, Sr. was cranky about having been reprimanded off-camera? Was the televising of the publicly-held subcommittee meetings really more important than participating in those meetings, which is what we taxpayers pay them to do?

Most recently, Alderman Frank A. Burgio, Sr., as reported in the Republican-American (March 11, Alderman pleads misfortune), has behaved at a new low. From what I can put together, he took it upon himself to inform the newspaper that Alderman Laurie Singer Russo is late paying her taxes. The amount she owes ($362) is not very significant, and, as Alderman Burgio surely must have known, she has been going through very difficult times lately. As quoted in the article, she has no job and her ex had stopped sending her money before his recent death. When someone is enduring a time of great hardship, the decent and honorable thing to do is to express sympathy and be supportive. Adding to their woes is, at the very least, inappropriate. If Burgio was genuinely concerned that Russo, as an Alderman, has a public responsibility to keep up with her taxes, the correct thing to do was to speak to her and the President of the Board of Alderman in private.

I question the validity of his decision to expose her delinquent tax bill when, at the same time, he and his fellow Independent Aldermen proposed and voted in favor of the city no longer shutting off the water of delinquent bill payers. If Alderman Burgio is comfortable with being extremely lenient towards landlords who each owe the city many hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars for their rental properties’ water bills, how can he attack one Alderman who is late with her relatively small tax bill?

The situation as reported in the article is made worse by one sentence: "He said Democrats had roasted him for an overlooked tax bill in the past." In other words, Burgio is bitter about getting into trouble for not paying his taxes and is getting back at the Democrats by attacking Russo. This is the sort of behavior I expect from an adolescent, not from an elected official. It's immature, petty and cruel. If Burgio wants to help the city, he should spend his energy going after the people and businesses who owe thousands of dollars' worth of taxes going back years. Instead, he focused on a personal vendetta and created yet another situation in which the Board of Alderman was sidetracked from good government by squabbling over personal issues.

Waterbury will never achieve its potential greatness if our leaders continue to behave like children.

Sunday, March 08, 2009

Spring is getting closer!

The silver lining to picking up the litter that blows into my yard from next door is that I get to see the early flowerings. More snow drops and now the emergence of what I think are daffodils.

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Icy Roads

I'm guessing that the city is all out of salt and sand, and that the plows are defective. I don't know how else to explain what I saw today.

I drove up to UConn-Storrs this morning, first carefully navigating Waterbury's roads. My street was a long stretch of packed-down snow. Not too terrible, considering that it's a one-way street sloping downwards. Walnut Street, a steep downhill, was (thankfully!) clear. Welton Street looked like it had been plowed once and then sanded once. For the most part, it was a sandy slush. The rest of my route to 84-East was pretty much a mix of those three streets.

I was amazed when I got up to UConn. Every street was clear and dry. Every sidewalk had been plowed/shoveled. It was an absolute delight!

On the return trip to Waterbury, the roads were all fine until I got into the city. I nearly crashed my car twice, at intersections where the roads were sheets of ice. It's very difficult to stop your car, even when you're going only 20 mph, when you're driving on a sheet of ice.

These weren't minor side roads. The first icy intersection was at the end of the off-ramp for exit 24 (Plank and Harper's Ferry Roads). The second one was on East Main Street at Route 69. The second one was worse than the first. I did a little bit of fishtailing in addition to sliding forward, even though I had been going maybe 22 when I started to break. It was a little scary.

On the plus side (if you can call it that), when I got home one of my neighbors told me that the city never used to plow our street. So at least they sort of plow it now. The problem, I guess, has to do with the size of the plow trucks. Earlier this winter, the plow driver told me that the city plows are really too large for my street. They can barely squeeze between the cars, and the drivers have zero visibility for any fine-tuned maneuvering.

So why is that UConn, which is so strapped for cash their president wants to shut down their museums, is able to do a good job of snow removal while Waterbury, which is supposedly doing okay financially, has icy streets that are a serious safety hazard?