Sunday, March 28, 2010

We're Number One!

And it's not a good thing.

As reported by several newspapers and news stations, Connecticut's unemployment has hit 9.1 percent and Waterbury has the highest unemployment at 13.4 percent (the national unemployment rate is 9.7 percent).

While we don't have the highest unemployment rate in the nation, we're not all that far behind Detroit, which used to be at 15.3 percent and has dropped to 14.8 percent.

During campaign time last year, I was very unhappy when I heard Mayor Jarjura state that Waterbury is in excellent economic condition. At that point, our unemployment rate was the second worst in the state. Now it's the worst. If Jarjura ever does decide to run for Governor, how will he explain that Waterbury's unemployment rate has gone from bad to the worst while he's been Mayor?

Come to think of it, what about the assorted economic developers in Waterbury? What are their responses to the latest unemployment figures? Wait, let me guess--it's not their fault, it's very complicated, there are external factors that can't be controlled.

Waterbury's unemployment rate has been among the highest in the state for at least a decade. There are no excuses for it getting worse. Whatever our economic developers have been doing obviously doesn't work. It's past time to try something new.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Aldermen by District

As hopefully everyone knows, it's Charter Revision Time in Waterbury, which means that we have an opportunity to enact positive change in how our city is governed. The hottest topic being discussed is Aldermen by District. There are a lot of layers to the issue, most of which have to do with fundamental inequities in the representation of the varied and diverse community that is Waterbury. For example, there are no elected representatives from my neighborhood and most city officials seem to be completely oblivious to the issues my neighborhood faces.

I took the time to actually read the City Charter, and I noticed that while the description of Mayor includes a residency requirement, there was no such requirement listed in the description of Aldermen. I brought this up to the Charter Revision Committee. Part of their response (I'm still discussing the other part with Committee member Bryan Baker) was that our residency requirement for Mayor could or has been found unconstitutional by the courts (more details on this are forthcoming).

If this is true, then it is all the more important that we succeed in getting Aldermen by District. If not, then we could end up with Aldermen who live in Middlebury, Woodbury, Cheshire or West Hartford.

Waterbury is a city of neighborhoods. It's not a very big city, but the neighborhoods are very different from one another, and there is a tendency to stay out of neighborhoods that aren't your own. The way an Alderman living in Bunker Hill views the needs of the city are going to be very different from the way an Alderman living in the WOW neighborhood views the city's needs.

We need better neighborhood representation. We need better politics.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Ready for Spring

I spent a couple hours today doing some pre-Spring Cleaning. My front yard has been looking miserable, full of dead leaves left from last autumn and litter that accumulates every day. I can usually keep up with the larger litter, but the tiny little wrappers for single pieces of candy, and the wrappers from cigars, and random scraps of plastic are a lot harder to keep up with--I wound up raking them into the compost pile along with all the leaves.

End result: the yard is clean and you can see the flowers getting ready to bloom. The daffodils in particular are just on the cusp of blooming.

The crocuses are doing especially well this year. I guess my yard agrees with them!

And here's the reason why I have to pick up litter in my yard every day. My neighbor is a corner store that never keeps their back yard clean. They've been cited for blight in the past, but it didn't do much good. The trash was back as soon as they passed re-inspection.

Next time I have a weekend off, I'll tackle the back yard. I need to wait at least another month to see how much of my garden is left in the back--the neighbor's dog jumped the fence this winter and chewed up several of my plants, destroying at least some of them completely. I suppose I should be grateful that's all he did--a neighbor down the street recently told me he's killed several cats. The dog is gone now, but his poop is still in my yard. Here's hoping that will be gone soon, too!