Sunday, November 29, 2009


Is it just my house, or has anyone else noticed a strong chemical smell in the tap water lately? It seems strongest in the hot water, and it is the sort of smell that makes me afraid to use the water.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Marty's Corner

I read in today's paper that Marty's Corner store in Naugatuck is closing, hopefully to be reopened eventually by new owners.

When I was a kid, we lived in Naugatuck for a couple years, and Marty's Corner was one of my favorite hang-outs. This would be 1984 and '85. I can't remember how I found the store, but I was drawn there by the video games. I put endless quarters into the Ms. Pac-Man machine and spent the rest of my allowance on candy and comic books.

Photo by Paul Singley, Republican-American

I always felt slightly intimidated when I entered the store--I remember dark wood, a long counter with stools, old men pausing in conversation to glare sternly at me, and shelves stocked with cigars. I had to muster the courage to walk past the formidable front of the store to get to the two (or three?) video game machines in the back. It was a little strange, I suppose--the store had entertainment for kids, but they didn't really encourage kids to hang out there.

I remember Marty's Corner with fondness. When we moved to Watertown, I was never able to find as good a place to hang out. Which I guess is what kids, even pre-teens and teens, need.

Sunday, November 08, 2009

Support the Schools

Stop & Shop, which has three stores in Waterbury and a fourth just over the line in Watertown, has a great program that makes it easy for you to help provide a little financial support to Waterbury schools. The A+ Bonus Bucks program donates money to the 3 schools of your choice (among those that are registered); the amount of the donation is connected to a point system based on how much money you spend at Stop & Shop.

In order to join the program, simply go to the website, register your Stop & Shop card (type in the numbers from the bar code), and select the schools. Simple as pi!

Thursday, November 05, 2009

More Low Numbers

When you look at the voter turn-out numbers (just sent to me by Bryan Baker), and add that to the notion that we need the police to keep the campaigners under control on election day (see comment #8 by S. on the previous post), I'd say we have a very serious problem. The numbers are as follows: in 2001 50.3% of the voters went to the polls, and the following elections had turnouts of 39% ('03), 40% ('05), 32% ('07), and 24% ('09). If that trend continues, eventually no one will vote in Waterbury's local elections except for the politicians.

It seems like everyone in Waterbury is eager to complain about the problems, so why are so few people voting? I don't think it's because they're satisfied with the way things are--otherwise, wouldn't they have voted in order to ensure the status quo?

There are two basic reasons I've heard from registered voters who don't bother to vote in the local elections:
1. There's no point bothering, they're all the same and they don't care about me;
2. I have no idea who all those candidates are or what an alderman does, so I wouldn't have any idea who to vote for.

This situation needs to change. The responsibility for that change lies with all of us.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Election Day

I stopped by the WOW center this evening to vote in the local election. Early results should be available in less than two hours, thanks to modern technology.

I was a little surprised to see a police cruiser parked across the street from the entrance to the polls. I checked with some friends, and it sounds like there was a strong police presence at all of the polls all day long (which explains why, when I called in a noise complaint earlier in the day, I was informed that it would be a while before they could get around to dispatching anyone).

One person I spoke to said he felt very intimidated by the police presence, especially when the cruiser outside the WOW center followed his car home and then looped back around to return to the center. He was furious when he told me this story. In the interests of fairness, I tended to believe that it was an unfortunate coincidence but did a little research and learned that a strong police presence at the voting places can be a very bad idea.

Here's an excerpt from an ACLU of Virginia news release dated October 21, 2004:
Civil liberties group says many voters won’t show if police are present
The ACLU of Virginia today asked the Chesterfield County registrar to withdraw a plan to post armed, uniformed police officers at the County’s 62 polling places on Election Day. The ACLU says that the police presence--a reminder of when armed government officials were used to prevent minorities from voting--will intimidate many potential voters, causing them to avoid the polls.

An article on the website of the American University Radio by Jessica Forres dated November 5, 2008 had this to say on the topic:
A Latino advocacy group says some Hispanic voters in Virginia's Prince William County may have been intimidated by the heavy police presence at one polling site.

It seems like it's a very delicate balance. If police have received a credible threat that would place voters in danger when they vote, then of course there should be a strong presence. But if voters feel intimidated, then that's a problem that needs to be fixed.