Thursday, October 28, 2010

Waterbury Neighborhood Council Awards Dinner

Tonight I was honored to attend the Neighborhood Council's 11th Annual Awards Dinner as a guest of Brenda and Ken Killer, winners of this year's Volunteer Award. The dinner was held at the Ponte Club's Villa Rosa.

Here are a few of the award recipients trying to pose for their picture (which was taken with a much better camera than my iPhone 3G!).

A couple views of folks milling around before dinner. The Independent Party was in nearly full attendance, including their candidate for Governor, Tom Marsh.

There were quite a few other politicians in attendance, from the Mayor to several current and former Aldermen (and a few likely future Aldermen), Rep. Chris Murphy, State Senator Joan Hartley, and more.

Dan Malloy made a round through the room to shake hands and chat briefly. Here are a couple "action" shots of Malloy talking to Chelsea Murray from The Observer (Dear Apple, have you considered improving the camera in the iPhone?) (UPDATE 10/30 -- Apple has informed me that the camera in the iPhone 4 is much better than the one in my iPhone 3G) (UPDATE 10/31 -- Technically, it was a friend at Apple who told me that the camera in 4 is better, not Apple itself).

Here's another terrible photo (I'm sorry I didn't bring a better camera!), this time of the WOW Youth Council receiving an award. They're a great group of kids. I was pleased to learn that Chris Murphy followed through with a promise he made to them at the WOW Center on April 17. This summer, the youth group were treated to a bus trip to Washington, D.C. where they got a grand tour of government.

Election 2010 (or, Future of the State, part two)

Time to choose who I'm going to vote for on Tuesday. As always, I pretty much ignore the commercials and flyers--they are useless for making a truly informed decision. Also worth noting, although I am a registered Democrat, I don't blindly vote Democrat. I am more than willing to accept that the other parties have good candidates too. I typically make my choices through a process of elimination. If you're still trying to figure out what to do on Tuesday, try visiting VoteSmart for more information. There will also be Charter Revision questions on the ballot. Bryan Baker has done a great job of posting information about the questions on his blog, The Second Generation.

Governor: Dan Malloy
Dan Malloy is the former Mayor of Stamford, one of the largest and most successful cities in Connecticut: he has fourteen years of experience in running a complex government and appears to have done it very well. As Mayor, Malloy would have become very familiar with the workings of state-level government and surely has a clear understanding of how state government impacts the cities and towns. Malloy has the right experience for the job and a great history of success.

Tom Foley is a venture capitalist. Venture capitalists are the guys who buy companies or their subsidiaries, suck as much money out of them as they can, then either shut them down or sell them off. Venture capitalists are the bad guys in every movie about factory workers facing layoffs when the cozy family-owned business is forced to sell. Venture capitalists focus on their money, not on their people. This is not the sort of person I want as governor. Foley claims to have experience in government, but his experience consists of being the U.S. Ambassador to Ireland for a few years--not something that will help him run Connecticut. His appointment was not entirely welcomed by the Irish: one blogger described him as "Iraq pillager" and quoted sources claiming that Foley got the Iraq job because he was a long-time friend of George W. Bush. Foley's time in Iraq is his other "experience" in government (according to his own campaign website), but his actual activities there have been shown to have been of minimal importance, and in one instance even detrimental. No matter what actually happened in Iraq, setting up a stock exchange in a foreign country is simply not relevant to being Governor of Connecticut.

Tom Marsh is a small business owner and First Selectman of the small town of Chester. I think he has some good ideas, but I'm not sure he has the experience needed.

Lt. Governor: Undecided
This is the backup governor position--if something happens to the Governor, the Lt. Governor takes over the job. Like the Vice-President, the Lt. Governor campaigns mostly for the running mate who chooses him or her. And, like the Vice-President, it's a package deal. Voting for Malloy means I'm also voting for Wyman by default.

Nancy Wyman has long years of political experience in Hartford, most recently as Comptroller. I can't really generate an opinion about her, which bothers me.

Mark Boughton was a state rep for three years and is in his fifth term as Mayor of Danbury, which has the lowest unemployment rate in the state. Boughton is also a blogger, which is not itself a reason to vote for him (nor is the fact he wears a Timex), but I still give him points for it. Blogging is a great way for politicians to communicate with the people they represent, and it's a great way for readers to get some insight into what's happening. I don't agree with him on several issues (he really crumbles when issues about immigration and racism are raised).

Cicero Booker is a Waterbury Alderman, which does make me partial to him--I like to be able to support Waterbury candidates at the state level--but that's not enough of a reason to vote for him.

Senate: Blumenthal
This is probably the most-watched race in the state. Blumenthal has done some great work as Attorney General. He's not very good at campaigning, but that is not a reflection of what he'll do in the Senate. McMahon is a great campaigner, and a fascinating personality, but I think she is primarily focused on benefits for people like herself--millionaire business owners. Also, to touch on one of her campaign points, since when is it the Senate's business to create jobs? She keeps saying that Blumenthal will be a bad Senator because he doesn't know how to create jobs, but her website says "People create jobs, not government," which makes her campaigning hugely hypocritical.

Congress: Chris Murphy
Whenever I've heard Murphy speak, I've agreed with what he's said. I'm pleased that Caligiuri is doing well, since that bodes well for Waterbury's reputation, but I think Murphy deserves another term.

72nd District: Larry Butler
Not much choosing to do here. There is technically a Republican candidate, but he has done no campaigning. The Independent candidate was a last-minute addition with no intention of winning. Once again, the Waterbury parties are showing that they don't care about my district. Butler sent out a flyer--after all, he's the incumbent and needs to win re-election--but the Republicans and Independents seem to be relying on the old "nobody" votes in the 72nd, so why bother? Meanwhile, if you ask people here why they don't vote, they tell you it's because the politicians don't care about this district. It's a vicious circle that needs to end.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Help the Fire Department

If you haven't already done so, visit (or click the button below) to help the Waterbury Fire Department win $10,000. The quiz is a good one to take for yourself--ten questions about basic fire safety--knowing the correct answers can improve the safety of your home.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Hall of Fame and Spirit of Waterbury

Here are some pics from the Hall of Fame induction ceremony at Howland-Hughes and the Spirit of Waterbury festival on the Green yesterday. The photos on the Green were taken late in the day, long after the parade, so it's nowhere near as packed with crowds as it was an hour or two earlier. Even the campaigning politicians had moved on by the time I got there (I heard Blumenthal was shaking hands, but his handlers insisted that he didn't have time to actually talk to anyone--strange way to campaign).

Friday, October 22, 2010

Bird Feeder Bullies

I was trying to get some photos a couple weeks ago of the nuthatch that comes to my bird feeder, but he's very shy. So instead here are a couple shots of two of the sparrows who try to devour all the seeds.

Sparrows rely on strength in numbers. They do everything in groups of at least five, and they intimidate other birds in order to get what they want. What they want is all the seeds. Sometimes I deliberately leave the feeder empty for a week. When I finally refill it, the chickadees, nuthatches and rose finches get to eat for days before the sparrows figure out I refilled it. They descend upon it and can empty it out in two days, sometimes less if there are a lot of them.

If you look closely, you can see that some of the perches have been chewed off by squirrels. I bought an expensive bird feeder once. The squirrels destroyed it. Now I buy $5 feeders from Ocean State Job Lot and reinforce the handle with steel wire, then secure the handle to the hook with more steel wire. The squirrels have tried to chew through the wire, but it's too much for them. They've tried chewing the feed openings to make them bigger, but I guess that was also too much work for them.

Monday, October 18, 2010

This Weekend!

This is a busy weekend downtown. Spirit of Waterbury festivities are Saturday (on the Green, noon to 7 p.m.), Mardi Gross is Sunday (on Bank Street, 4:30 - 7 p.m.). Also Saturday is the Waterbury Hall of Fame induction ceremony (at Howland-Hughes on Bank Street, 2 - 3 p.m.).

Thursday, October 14, 2010


If you complain loud enough and long enough, sometimes you can get what you need. We've been complaining for a long time that the sidewalks in our neighborhood have decayed so badly that they are dangerous. This week, we're finally getting some improvements.

When we saw the No Parking signs on Ives Street, we felt a little disheartened. There was a rumor going around that only the sidewalks in front of a certain person's properties would be paved. Since there were no signs on Wood Street, we assumed the rumor would prove to be true. Today we were delighted to see the paving crew at work on one of the worst stretches of sidewalk on Wood Street. Hooray!

Just how bad are the sidewalks? Here's a photo of the stretch on Wood Street they paved today:

And here's an "after" shot of the stretch they did on Ives Street yesterday:

It would be nice if the budget allowed for concrete, properly laid out and graded. Asphalt sidewalks crumble faster and don't look as good, but this will certainly improve public safety and maybe even give everyone a little bit of hope for the future of our neighborhood.

Thursday, October 07, 2010

Red Means Stop

I was on Reidville Drive this morning, heading towards 84 East, maybe four or five car lengths behind the car ahead of me. The light at the intersection was green, so the car naturally continued through the intersection with Scott Road towards the on-ramp. All of a sudden, a big red pickup truck came flying into the intersection from the left and slammed into the car ahead of me, spinning it around 90 degrees. Our light was still green, so I assume the truck had a red light that the driver completely ignored. Both drivers seemed uninjured--they got out of their vehicles and were assessing the situation; a pedestrian witness was heading toward them from the car dealership when I left.

When I returned to Waterbury, I stopped for a red light. I watched the cross-traffic light turn red and my light turn green. Then I watched two cars zoom through their red light. I joke sometimes about red lights and stop signs being treated as optional in Waterbury, but it's not funny when there's an accident. Which is why I always wait a moment before going when my light turns green. The accident I saw this morning, however, happened long after the light changed. Sometimes it doesn't matter how cautious you are.

Monday, October 04, 2010

Downtown Draw and Out for Art

There were a couple of fun events downtown on Saturday, and fortunately the torrential downpours of the previous days were replaced with gorgeous sunny weather. The annual Downtown Draw chalk art competition was held in the morning, followed by an Out for Art event on Bank Street in the afternoon.

The students participating in the chalk drawing competition were given a theme and then went to work creating their art. Here are some of the highlights.

A block of Bank Street was closed to traffic for the afternoon's Out for Art. The shops and restaurant all had outdoor and indoor offerings.

Shakesperience set up a table for anyone wanting to help build papier mâché sets for the Jungle Book.

There was live music outside Howland Hughes.

At 3 p.m., the outdoor music stopped and the number of people at Out for Art suddenly dropped. I was down the street at Goldsmith's, wondering what happened. Eventually I found the music and the people, inside Howland Hughes: