Letters to the Editor
February 27, 2007
We pay federal income, Social Security, Medicare, disability, unemployment, inheritance, gift and capital gain taxes. Yet our tax dollars are not enough to secure Social Security, Medicare and universal health care but the government finds enough money to kill people and get our soldiers killed in the most unjust war, in Iraq.
We pay our state income, sales, petroleum, alcohol, tobacco and more than 10 other taxes. Add to that the gambling revenue. Yet our tax dollars are not enough to provide job security, support businesses that are playing fair and punish others that exploit illegal workers. And the state can’t offer affordable education.
We pay our local property, car and conveyance taxes. Yet our tax dollars are not enough to repair roads, schools and infrastructure, but town officials find millions for unjustly high salaries, pensions and benefits.
February 20, 2007
In the years in which I served on the Council with Ron Gambardella, we frequently disagreed on many topics. However, one point on which we
were in agreement was the need to ask questions in order to achieve a
greater understanding of the issues. As the old saying goes, "There is no such thing as a stupid question."
This evidently is not the viewpoint of Democratic Town Chairman Joseph
February 19, 2007
Normally, I don’t reply to Councilman Ron Gambardella’s column in the Hamden Daily News, but last Wednesday’s column, entitled “I Asked and I Got,” has prompted me to respond. In his columns, Ron has demonstrated a nasty habit: He takes on a complex issue, dumbs it down, and then gets the whole thing wrong.
The gist of Ron’s column, if I read it correctly, is that he is shocked that the Democrats on the Legislative Council are not surprised or distressed that the Henrici Administration’s projections, as of Feb. 1, 2007, are for a budget surplus at the end of this fiscal year. He writes, “It is interesting to note that the Council doesn’t seem at all interested …” that the town is currently projecting a “savings” (Ron’s word) of $537K from the 2006-07 budget.
I am sure that the Democrats on the Council are very interested in a balanced budget, and better yet, a surplus budget. But Ron doesn’t appear to realize that a projection is just that, a projection into the future based on current information. If those projections don’t pan out -- and we just went through the first significant snowfall of the 2006-07 fiscal year -- will Ron be upset? We all hope that the 2006-07 budget year does produce a surplus, and I know that if and when that happens, Democrats, Republicans and unaffiliated voters -- all of Hamden’s taxpayers -- will be elated. The administration and the Democrats on the Council have decided that the proper course of action is careful management of the town’s resources, rather than political grandstanding.
I think it is admirable that Ron is bringing to the attention of the readers of the Hamden Daily News that the Henrici Administration has been operating extremely efficiently, although I wish he had taken the time in his column to commend Mayor Henrici and his department heads. I will chalk it up to an oversight. Either that or he just didn’t know how to write the words, “Good job, Mayor Henrici.”
I must quarrel with one sentence in his article. Ron writes that Councilman John Flanagan “appears to be the spokesman for the Democratic Party.” While John is a fine and able councilman, Ron is hardly the person to be naming the Democratic Party’s spokesman. Although John heads the Administration Committee on the Legislative Council and is the 2nd District chair for the Democratic Party, we haven’t named John, or anyone else for that matter, our spokesman. When we do, I promise to let Ron know.
Joseph P. McDonagh
February 16, 2007
On behalf of the town of Hamden, we want to congratulate the seven couples that exchanged their vows in the heart of our Government Center for our 12th Annual Valentine’s Day ceremonies. Our best wishes go out to Tanya Coleman/William Matthews, Ellen Leach/Mark Brannen, Erica Boughton/Michael O’Connor, Marion McGrath/Scott McLean,
The following Hamden justices of the peace donated their time and beautiful nuptial services: Oswald Brown, Ann Balogh, Mayor Craig Henrici, Rita Grossi, William Cohen, William Sarris, Arthur Giulietti and Robert Tombank. Deputy Fire Chief Clark Hurlburt was of great assistance on the snowy Wednesday.
Many Hamden businesses were most generous with donations. Cakeworks Etc. of Ives Street provided individual heart-shaped cakes for the couples; Glen Terrace Flowers on Whitney Avenue provided beautiful rose bridal bouquets and boutonnieres; Cherry Hill Wine & Spirits of Dixwell Avenue provided; candy hearts came from Walgreen’s on upper Whitney Avenue; gift certificates were provided by Stop & Shop and Shaw’s, both on Dixwell; personal gifts came from the Town Clerk’s Office; and valentine cookie trays came from Harborside Healthcare/Arden House of Mix Avenue. The crowning glory again came with beautiful silk flowers from Lucien’s Greenhouse in Centerville, decorating the white heart-shaped arbor donated from Hamden Rental of Dixwell Avenue.
We also want to acknowledge the women’s choral group Silk ’n’ Sounds from the greater New Haven area who entertained us all day long.
We wish long life, lasting love and good luck to all couples that participated in this special 12th anniversary Valentine’s Day celebration. Thank you for allowing me to play cupid for the town of Hamden yet again.
February 13, 2007
In reference to my letter about WAVZ, I received the following response from the FCC:
Steven F. Wilson
February 12, 2007
I find it incredible how Connecticut history repeats itself. Lowell Wiecker, one-time governor, played the "education" card to get casinos in place in Connecticut and was quite successful. The revenue from the casinos was supposed to pay for education. It did not. The revenue was dumped into the general fund along with all other revenue. What happened to education in Connecticut?
Over the years, the public school system slid downward regardless how many millions a year was thrown into it. Now we have Gov. Rell again using "education" to justify a raise in the personal income tax. It has been proven time and time again that money is not the answer to a quality education. I'm confident that teachers’ unions will disagree with me and the thousands of others who have studied this problem and have found it to be a fact. Our own state mastery score results prove my point as these scores are stagnant at best and continue on a downward slope at worst. Here in Hamden, we have one of the highest per-pupil costs in the state, yet mastery scores are far below some systems whose costs are much lower.
Businesses large and small and families are leaving Connecticut in droves. Census figures show a downward trend in our state population. Does Gov. Rell or the Legislature care or even wonder why? Obviously not. How sad.
I do not know what kind of operation WAVZ in New Haven is running. They do not answer their phones or respond to e-mail. And then to change the ONLY progressive radio format in the state to ESPN without a hearing or a public discussion is beyond reason. When I attempted to get some answers from Air America Radio, I get this message from WAVZ:
“Your message has not been received. Messages sent to email@example.com cannot have attachements [sic].” (Editor’s note: WAVZ should take an ABC spelling lesson.)
February 8, 2007
Clear Channel's decision to end "The Voice," 1300 radio's format of providing Air America's progressive talk, appears to be the end of rational radio in the New Haven area for a while.
1300 was a welcome change from the rightwing ranting of Rush and other conservative talking heads. The programming, while more left in nature, presented a good variety of shows, with both Democratic and Republican listeners. I've enjoyed listening to and learning from these shows over the last year.
January 30, 2007
First of all, as a lifetime Hamden resident, I'd like to thank you for an informative and entertaining look at Hamden's politics and events. I have a suggestion that may prove to be a nice addition to the Hamden Daily News.
What drew me to this site originally was a search for pictures of our hometown. Hamden has changed quite a bit over the years, and there's very little pictorial history on the Internet. I was looking in particular for images of Dixwell Avenue as I remember it as a child -- the old Sears building, the takeout-only McDonald's, Lenders Bagels, even Caldor and Bradlees are lost to the passage of time. It seems that nothing today is as it was even 20 years ago.
(Editor’s note: If anyone has historical photos of Hamden that can be e-mailed to the HDN, please click here to send. Thanks.)
January 29, 2007
The Newhall Advisory Committee has been working tirelessly and diligently with the Department of Environmental Protection on behalf of Newhall property owners, who are still living with cracked foundations and walls and physical and/or psychological health hazards caused by contaminated soil, all because the town of Hamden permitted their homes to be built on a former dumpsite. These property owners have been living with this stigma for many years, and the NAC has been striving to reach an amicable solution with the DEP to fairly remediate the horror, but to no avail.
However at the NAC meeting last week, state Rep. Peter Villano presented copies of three bills that have been presented to the General Assembly on behalf of these Newhall property owners. These bills were introduced not only by Rep. Villano but also by Sens. Looney and Crisco, and this is very encouraging for the Newhall area. The three bills focus on the following statements of purpose:
These bills will be reviewed in committee very shortly, and the NAC will be holding a public progress meeting to update all area residents. Notices will be mailed out with specifics. I strongly encourage all area residents to attend this meeting because we finally may be making some progress.
January 25, 2007
I read with interest the list of names and salaries in the top 50 for town and school. I recognized a lot of the town-side names, but on the list of school-side names I knew very few. I’d be curious to know how many of the names on that school list are classroom teachers and how many are primarily or exclusively administrators.
Of the ones who are classroom teachers, how many got on the list by virtue of being football or hockey coaches? Stipends can make an artificially high salary level; stipends are actually payment for a second job, not really the same thing as the overtime paid on the town side.
No district pays overtime when a classroom teacher has to spend his or her entire weekend grading midterm exams while also preparing for the next week’s teaching lessons, for example. A police officer or firefighter who works an extra shift beyond his/her normal workweek gets paid for the extra shift. I don’t know if the pay for working traffic at a construction site on “off” time is included in police salaries that are listed in top 50, however. I’d like to know that as well, since that’s pretty much the equivalent of a teacher’s stipend for coaching/advising.
I’d love to see the stipends for coaches and for things like newspaper adviser listed so we can see what the highest-paid classroom teachers in Hamden actually make as teachers versus what the highest-paid administrators make. (And, also, so we can see what the district truly values -- athletics or academics -- when it comes to laying out cash for advisers/coaches/etc., but that’s a different editorial comment!)
I’d also like to know how many administrators work a 10-month year versus a 12-month year. Given that teachers (and I’m sure 10-month administrators) actually spend considerable amounts of time during the so-called unpaid months (July and August) doing work directly related to what they do the other 10 months, it’s misleading to differentiate in that way, but normally administrative contracts do separate out the two categories in terms of pay.
I don’t know if Hamden’s school district is actually top-heavy with administrators, but I’d love to look at that top 50 list to see how many are administrators.
January 24, 2007
For all of the people in Connecticut who voted for U.S. Sen. Joe Lieberman, I hope they believe the war is leading our country in the right direction. Joe stated the week before the November election that no one wanted to end the war more than he did. We now realize he lied. Bush’s call for 21,000 more troops was not enough for Joe. He wants 35,000. He fooled many voters.
Joe was the only Democratic New England senator who voted yes on the Cheney-Bush energy bill. This bill gives $14 billion worth of incentives to Exxon Mobil and Chevron Texaco as well as other oil companies. Joe’s vote of yes on this bill will also pave the way for Broadwater to install a huge floating natural gas storage facility in the Long Island Sound. Joe’s response for his vote of yes was that the bill would lower electric rates for Connecticut. Take a look at your next electric bill and send Joe a thank you note. Joe's campaign was primarily funded by large oil companies, pharmaceuticals and, of course, Republicans. This makes Joe accountable to all of them, not us.
Joe Lieberman divided the Democratic and Republican parties throughout Connecticut. Joe is a divider not a uniter.
January 23, 2007
It occurs to me that in his head-long rush to transfer the education offices to the town center administration without any real investigation of the feasibility of the move, that Mayor Henrici is breaking yet another one of his many campaign promises. He sharply criticized the Amento Administration for taking on too many projects at once and failing to finish them in a timely manner. He vowed that his administration would complete all existing projects before embarking on any new ones.
Has he fulfilled that pledge?
Looking around, after over a year in office, I see that the Meadowbrook park project has gone nowhere, the giant toxic mountain of dirt still dominates the middle school project, the middle school lights burn on, the renovation of the partly dismantled Memorial Town Hall has not been started, the condemned traffic garage still stands, the new fire and police headquarters remain on hold -- and there seems to be no cohesive planning or prioritization on how to proceed with any of these ongoing projects.
There are a lot of already-started projects that need to be finished. At this time, is putting the education offices in Center One really that important? Should it even be considered without a plan for the use of the old Town Hall? Moving elements of the town that are currently at Center One, like various commissions and the Legislative Council, back to a renovated Memorial Town Hall first would be a far more logical course of action than what is being proposed now. Figure out where and how you are going to transfer these offices before you start cramming new ones into the limited available space left at Center One. It also would be prudent to leave some wiggle room at the facility in case the police and fire need office space during the construction of their new quarters.
The plan to move the education offices to Center One has a great deal of merit and should be pursued but it should also be prioritized as to its immediate need. To my mind, it ranks very low on the town’s to-do list.
January 22, 2007
It makes no difference how big or small the fire alarm incident was at Government Center, Mayor Henrici should have stayed the course, which would have given town employees a sense of comfort, security and above all a mutual respect for each other. That’s what a leader would have done in a situation like that. Just look at what the former mayor of New York City did on 9/11.
No matter how humorous the article was in the Hamden Daily News, it shows how adults react differently to a fire alarm. We teach our first-graders that when they hear a fire alarm ringing they are to leave the building as quickly as they can, and not to stop for anything before leaving the building -- no coat no lunch no nothing.
January 18, 2007
I am appalled and outraged by the plan of George W. Bush to send over 20,000 additional troops to Iraq. The majority of Americans voted in November for a new policy in Iraq, but Bush’s “surge” is directly contrary to the change which most of us desired.
Instead of following the advice of key generals and the Iraq Study Group to begin redeployment of American combat troops, President Bush is doing the opposite and forcing the U.S. military to take on the incredibly difficult task of being the primary force to secure Baghdad. By doing so, Bush is placing even more of our troops in harm’s way.
If the military follows the Bush plan to have many of these troops “stationed” with Iraqi forces in Baghdad neighborhoods, our troops will have to remain on almost constant high alert status. Since so few of our troops or even diplomats speak Arabic, this will be a bit like attempting to do community policing without knowing the language of the neighbors. This will inevitably result in increased U.S. casualties, as well as stress for those troops fortunate enough to avoid physical harm. Also, we will be placing our troops in the middle of what is becoming or has already become a civil war between Iraqi Shiites and Iraqi Sunnis.
To the best of my knowledge, U.S. forces have already trained over 300,000 Iraqi troops, but the allegiance of many of these troops is to their sectarian factions, rather than to Iraq. I agree with the comment that what the Iraqi Army most needs is “more Iraqis,” that is, troops whose primary allegiance is to Iraq. Bush has disregarded the advice of his key generals in Iraq, such as John Abizaid who stated that none of his division commanders sought the insertion of additional American troops.
The Iraqi Army has no reason to “stand up” until the U.S. military begins to “stand down” and redeploy troops from the center of combat. A fundamental error underlying Bush’s new policy is an apparent belief that the United States can secure a stable Iraq by using the military to kill all armed Iraqis who are willing to fight and kill Americans. This is an impossible task. If there is ever to be a stable Iraq, it must come about as a result of a political settlement among the many Iraqi factions. I believe that United States cannot determine the future of Iraq, though judicious U.S. aid and a less dominant military presence might encourage the commitment of Iraqis to their own future.
I call on the U.S. Congress to oppose the escalation planned by George W. Bush, and to focus our efforts on a withdrawal of U.S. troops from major combat within this year.
Gary R. Schark
January 17, 2007
The Hamden Fire Department's superintendent of apparatus, Donald Buechele, was arrested last month on drunken-driving charges. He is reportedly being honored as firefighter of the year on Jan. 20 at the annual Hamden Elks dinner. The fire chief is supporting him for this honor.
I have not read of the outcome of the hearing on this charge against Mr. Buechele; the hearing was scheduled for last Friday in Meriden Superior Court. (Editor’s note: It was postponed until next month.) But regardless of the outcome, he has disgraced his department and the town of Hamden and should not be honored at this time. I'm sure there are other more deserving firefighters in Hamden. Mr. Buechele used poor judgment when he chose to drive and ultimately damage a town vehicle in this incident. Furthermore, according to the Hamden Daily News, Mr. Buechele earned a handsome salary of $102,240 last year, which should be sufficient to repair the vehicle and pay for one of his own to drive when he is off duty.
January 16, 2007
I watched with shock and awe as President Bush gave us his “nurtured” month-long-developed “new” Iraq strategy. For publicity purposes, Mr. Bush went on a listening tour with the Department of Defense, military leaders, political leaders and others. He received the Iraq Study Group’s Report -- a definitive list of clear changes made by this distinguished group of foreign policy leaders, including a former White House chief of staff and a former Supreme Court justice.
In the end, the important “change in direction” begged for by the American people, as demonstrated by last November’s election outcome and with the reality that 70 percent of people oppose increasing the number of troops in Iraq -- was just that -- an increase in the number of troops in Iraq.
Called a “surge” because they don’t want to call it an “increase,” though the definition is the same, the Bush Administration will send an additional 20,000-plus soldiers right into the middle of Iraq’s bloody civil war. He’ll do this within the next few weeks to stop any chance Congress might have to stop him with Congressional oversight. On top of the obvious attempt to mislead the public by calling the plan a “surge,” instead of an “increase,” President Bush also failed to tell the American people that this “surge” is only going to bring American troop totals back to approximately 150,000 -- the number they were at this time two years ago. So, in fact, the “surge” is a return to the failed policy. More Americans have died each month.
If our leaders dared to tell you any remote aspect of the truth, this is what they would have to say:
1) We have no exit strategy.
Why won’t the president listen to plans for troop redeployment to secure Iraq’s borders from the terrorists pouring in? Why won’t he listen to military leaders who tell him that al-Qaida is taking power back in Afghanistan? Why won’t the president listen? Is it ignorance, a skewed reality or both?
Tonight the mayor will once again address the Legislative Council members in an attempt to convince them that his proposal to bond the pension fund is a viable option to an abysmal situation. The Council has already concluded that the pay as you go option is the only option they are willing to embrace. Their minds are closed and no amount of intelligent discussion will change the outcome. This is unfortunate for you and me. This option will soon create a tax burden that the citizens of Hamden will not be able to bear. Like the majority of the Democrats, they are experts at condemning any new ideas but cannot come up with a solid idea of their own.
My professional designations are as follows: MBA, EA, RIA, Registered Representative, Series 6, 7, 26, 63 and 65. I have over 25 years of financial experience in the area of financial modeling, taxation and over the last six years private retirement planning. My background provides me with a unique set of experiences that are not readily available on the Council. With the exception of perhaps Jim Pascarella, I don’t believe any other member of the Council has an extensive financial background.
Why bring up my background? It is for the sole purpose of informing the public that I do not endorse the mayor’s proposal lightly. I have the credentials and ability to assess the situation and I have come to the conclusion the mayor’s proposal is the right thing to do.
I have had a chance to listen to at least two presentations about pension bonds from this administration as well as an informative session in the previous administration. In each instance, there are pros and cons to bonding the pension. However, I am an investment professional currently managing over $13M of other people’s money. I am absolutely convinced bonding the pension deficit will produce the desired outcome of financial stability and lessen the tax burden on our resident taxpayers.
My clients depend on my expertise to manage their funds during retirement or to help with college savings and estate planning. The majority of investors have placed their funds in well-balanced, well-managed portfolios. They survived the devastating market correction in the early part of this decade. Western civilization did not fall apart and people continued with their lives. The reason: solid financial principals at play. These same principals can be applied to the town’s pension plan.
I support the mayor’s proposal as a long-term solution to a nagging problem. I have the credentials and experience to form such an opinion. Pay as you go cannot work in the long run. The current contributions and planned growth cannot keep pace with the projected outflows. By deferring this decision to some future period, we will only be worsening the situation by not taking advantage of the low-interest rate environment. Once the pension plan has stabilized we can then focus on restructuring the plan for even greater long-term savings. Current Council members want to pass on ever-increasing contributions to the taxpayer. I say enough is enough!Ron Gambardella
January 15, 2007
The Romans and the Greeks built their buildings to last a thousand years without modern-day equipment to help them. These buildings still can be seen in Italy and Greece.
How could they build their buildings without modern equipment? To answer that question one has to read about Roman and Greek history. What you will find after investigating the architects of that period is amazing.
Both the Romans and Greeks used architects to design their buildings to last a thousand years. If an architect ran into problems on a building that could not be repaired, he would be sold into slavery and a new architect would be found. So maybe that's why Roman and Greek buildings are still standing today. They used fear against their architects, that's why their buildings have lasted for a thousand years.
I would like to see Ms. Noble, Mr. Flanagan and Mr. Gambardella in this three-member task force. The findings of this task force would then be presented to the Legislative Council for review and action.
January 12, 2007
I'm sure that most people have noticed that the Hamden Journal is no longer being delivered by the U.S. Postal Service. Instead it is thrown onto our driveways in a pink plastic wrapper. As many people don't seem to pick up the paper, I now see that plastic-wrapped newspaper strewn around my neighborhood, littering driveways and street.
On the front of the Hamden Journal is the phone number of the delivery service. If you would like to cancel delivery, as I have, they are very accommodating. You can also e-mail the Journal (address is in the paper) to protest their change of delivery mode. I was told by the delivery service that they changed because the postal service wasn't reliable and advertisers were complaining. I can't imagine that this is getting their advertising out to customers in a more efficient manner!
January 10, 2007
Thank you for the prompt response to my request for the lowest salaries paid to town employees. I hope your readers understood that most of the figures included retroactive pay that was a one-time payment. Those salaries should be reduced by $3,000 to achieve the actual annual salary.
According to Wikipedia.com, the average salary in America is $39,000. Subtract $3,000 from the salaries of the 50 lowest paid Hamden employees and one can see that most of us don't make the national average.
Hamden taxpayers have realized by now that we can’t support the overly generous union contracts anymore, with their unjustly high salaries and benefits that have to be covered by property taxes. Teachers, police and fire retirees stay on the town’s health plan even after age 65.
Do we need to know the amount of the top and the lowest salaries? As long as they’re paid by taxpayers, absolutely yes. Is it the job of the Legislative Council to serve taxpayers’ interest first? Absolutely yes!
I would recommend to every unhappy union worker to give thanks that they still have a job and health care coverage. If still unhappy turn your anger where it belongs -- to the health insurance and drug companies that are robbing all of you blind. The rest of us, 47 million and growing, can’t even pay for health insurance. Think about people who lose their jobs and they can’t do anything about it. They should not lose their homes, too, because they can’t pay $400-$800 a month to cover out-of-control property taxes. Property taxes are not collected with the sole intention to pay for salaries and pensions. Our elected officials should protect taxpayers from unscrupulous union contracts and clean up the countless mistakes of the past 20 years.
I do not think you did a disservice to your readers by publishing the high salaries of town employees. You did the correct thing by publishing the salaries. Resentment towards town workers has been here in town way before you came to Hamden.
The resentment that people have for town employees is very simple to understand: Town employees make very good money for very little work. That is what inflames the taxpayers of Hamden.
January 8, 2007
There has been outrage expressed on the local Internet message boards regarding an HDN article about grievances filed against the town for the president’s declared national day of mourning on Jan. 2, 2007. At first glance, I would agree it appears to be motivated by greed with little concern for taxpayers of economically strapped Hamden. The unions, however, have the obligation to enforce the letter of a contract that states "a holiday declared by presidential, gubernatorial, or mayoral proclamation will be honored." (I may be wrong on exact punctuation.)
In a perfect world, I believe the unions would prefer to observe the "spirit" of that contract article, but we have learned the hard way that the only spirit the town brings to the table is mean-spirited and designed to be union-busting.
Evidence. The 2003 attempted elimination of elderly services transportation failed due to community outrage. The 2003 privatization of custodial services failed in less than one year due to poor performance of the contractor, which cost the town contract concessions. The 2003-2006 stonewalling of contract negotiations that resulted in hundreds of thousands of dollars that were incompetently failed to be budgeted for. The 2006 privatization of grounds keeping for the Board of Education (see above privatization). Finally, an historical under-funding of the pension fund.
Unions must hold the town to the letter of the contract or become irrelevant and ineffectual.
(Editor’s note: Requests were made last week for the50 lowest fulltime town salaries as well as the top 50 salaries on the school side. Town Finance Director Mike Betz said he would supply the town salary data to the HDN today. Assistant Superintendent Hamlet Hernandez has not yet responded to the request.)
Listening to a radio talk show in the car the other day made me stumble upon information that I was embarrassed to not already know. While I was well aware, and sickened by, the loss of over 3,000 American soldiers -- with an additional tens of thousands badly wounded -- I hadn’t heard a total for the estimated number of human beings that have been killed in Iraq during this war. For those who don’t know the approximate numbers, brace yourself.
It’s estimated that over 650,000 human beings have been killed so far in this war. Estimates run higher and lower. But what difference does a slight change in the number make? Nothing.
What has been gained from the murder of all of these people? Were they all Hussein loyalists? Were they all terrorists? Were they all, in the beginning, anti-American? Not a chance. I wonder how many of those 650,000 people were women and children or civilians. Is this really America doing this?
Why did all of those people have to die and how many more are we going to put in the same grave?
All I can pray is that the president follows some of the Iraq Study Group ideas and some of the ideas of the incoming Congress for strategies to get out of this conflict. Every day we remain, more die. Every day there is risk that another American life will be taken too soon.
How many have to die for oil, big business and personal power?
January 5, 2007
When I read the article about the middle school lights and the lack of any way to turn them off, I finally understood why my bedroom (which faces a down slope of oak trees above Shepard Avenue and across the Canal Line walk toward Dixwell Avenue) has been illuminated all night this fall/winter.
Ever since the leaves fell in late October, I’ve wondered why on earth I could see the middle school from my bedroom windows; I’d never really understood the exact geographic orientation of my townhouse in relation to various town buildings.
I want to thank the Konover Construction Company, the Hamden Board of Education, the School Building Committee and all the other folks who have so generously spent my tax dollars -- and everyone else’s -- to provide me with a nightlight for my bedroom along with this excellent geography lesson.
I’ve not seen the movie “Eragon,” but I have read the novel and its sequel. To blame the author of the novel for the movie’s similarities to “Star Wars” while never having read the novel (as Mr. French admits) is grossly unfair.
“Eragon,” the novel, is a great read. It’s not simply fanfic, as Mr. French would have discovered had he actually used printed text rather than film as his medium when discussing the novel in his review of the film. “Eldest,” the second of the trilogy, is not as strong and I’m a little apprehensive about the final novel, but will read it when it comes out.
Let’s face it, there are only so many plot lines any story can use. What matters is how the novelist (or filmmaker) uses them. “West Side Story” is a fine use of the same basic storyline as William Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet” (though I loathed Baz Lurhmann’s self-indulgent movie of the same title which was NOT Shakespeare’s R&J!), which itself was an adaptation of Brooke’s “The Tragicalle Hystorye of Romeus and Juliet,” which was an adaptation of a French story, which was an adaptation of an Italian story, which was …
Paolini’s skill in crafting characters (especially the dragon itself) and in manipulating plot (even the parts that tasted more like “Lord of the Rings” than “Star Wars”) made “Eragon,” the novel, rise above Mr. French’s denigrating “fanfic” and into the category of young adult literature. Though I am a senior citizen and not a young adult, I found it a most worthwhile read. I’d compare it more to the Pern novels, frankly, especially in the human/dragon relationships. The characters are equally appealing and the writing is actually better.
Mr. French is a fine movie reviewer; I think he writes well and often skewers a given movie on the very fine point of his metaphorical pen. But he needs to stick to reviewing movies he has seen and not review novels he’s never opened.
January 3, 2007
The meaning of nepotism: favoritism shown to relatives or close friends by those in power (as by giving them jobs). Nepotism in one form or another has been with us far before Adam and Eve walked the earth.
When people run for political office they make promises to people. One promise is, “Help me get elected and I will help you later.” What’s wrong with that? Not too much, if that promise is made openly and not in some cigar smoked-filled room where money changes hands for that promise.
January 2, 2007
Now is the time for all good neo-cons to step up. They continually shout for more troops, knowing there are none. In order to get 40,000 more troops the draft would have to be reactivated. My suggestion is that the U.S. Army form a "Republican Brigade.” This force would be composed of the sons, daughters and/or other close relatives of those who are backing the more-troops move.
Bush has ignored and will continue to ignore the Iraqi Study Group's report. With 40,000 troops in the "Republican Brigade," maybe he could gain this elusive victory he keeps talking about. One thing for certain, they would not be there for long. After the first 100 casualties, his supporters would make a u-turn because then it would be their children dying in this Vietnam-like war. I know a quagmire when I see one. I know there will be critics of this proposal but if you've never worn the uniform to defend your country, I don't want to hear from you.
(Editor’s note: As of Dec. 31, 2006, 3,000 American troops in Iraq have been killed. And depending on the source, over 600,000 Iraqis have been killed.)
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