Sunday we looked at how Meriden can go about engaging the youth, what has done and the general interest level. Oh, you missed it? No worries - click this and you can recap it.
Sunday Morning Jason Zandri posted his thoughts on his blog about Meriden’s pans. Zandri is a former Wallingford town councilor and he ran (unsuccessfully) for mayor last year. You can access his blog, Wallingford Politico, here.
It’s been interesting to hear from other towns, when possible, about Meriden’s plans. Zandri isn’t the only one in Wallingford concerned about Wallingford’s planning vs. Meriden’s. The fact is, Meriden has years of planning completed, changes on the way or already having taken place and they continue to plan for the future.
Now, I haven’t heard from a ton of other places. It’s not like a lot of other towns are planning for the high-speed rail either, but a handful are. But if you talk to state officials, they seem pretty enthused about where Meriden is in this process.
That said, there’s not a whole lot downtown right now making me jump out of my seat to run downtown that wasn’t there over the last few years. It’s not something that will happen overnight. That last sentence is something that has been repeated numerous times over numerous years. But it’s true. You need to do the planning first. Then you can change zoning to open the area up for developers, make projects happen, change the traffic if there is an issue, etc.
I won’t post it all, but that spurred a Twitter convo between myself, Jason, and a friend of mine who is a Meriden native and interested in seeing the downtown be revived. A few years older than me, he has been hearing about revitalization all his life.
The point is, he is someone in his mid-30s. While he would love to see downtown change, it’s been a long time coming. With a family, who knows how much he is jumping around from bar to bar like those in their 20s.
Now, I’m 25. Would I be willing to jump from bar to bar on a night my wife is taking care of the kids? Probably. Would he? probably. I’ve got other friends who travel to Wallingford every weekend to go to the bars, socialize, etc. Others go to Middletown, sometimes West Hartford and wherever else.
The fact is, if there are a grouping of nice bars in downtown Meriden, they will be used. But people feel safe going to Wallingford now where they know they will show up and there will be things to do.
Obviously this whole plan isn’t for bars though. There’s a living aspect, a traveling aspect, a working aspect, etc. And you have to wonder what is first the chicken or the egg - do you get people living there first or get restaurants/bars there first? Do restaurants/bars even bother if there aren’t any people there? It’s complicated.
So will a hypothetical man, 35-years-old with a family, want to move into this downtown? No, probably not. We live in a world and area where we’ve gotten kind of used to our suburbs and inner cities. But would a 25-year-old without a wife, without kids, want to live in a downtown? Possibly. What about a downtown with all of these amenities? Probably. They do it now in Middletown. Ok, Middletown has Wesleyan. They do it in New Haven. Ok so there’s Yale and other schools. It certainly helps having a large school that draws additional people to downtowns. Meriden has Middlesex - a commuter school. Downtown West Hartford is younger though.
No matter what, Meriden won’t be a downtown West Hartford, East Hartford, Hartford, Middletown, whatever. It’ll be something different. And whether it works, who knows. But city officials are building and planning toward something. And Zandri would rather there be planning than just enjoying what’s there, hoping it all works in the long run. People in there 20s? Well, some prefer to be planning for the future and others who just enjoy what’s going on and hoping it all works in the long run.
It felt like I was with Howard Weissberg all day. Technically, I was. Physically, we were only in the same room for about 90 minutes today.
Howard is an associate city engineer in Meriden. Formerly he was the #2 in the Public Works department in New Haven. Here is a good story about him and his departure to Meriden. Wait, I’m doing this entry from my phone, so you’ll just have to follow this: http://www.newhavenindependent.org/index.php/archives/entry/public_works_2_heading_up_the_road/
I won’t reveal all, but Howard is working on downtown traffic improvements. To explain them all would take a long time and is essentially what I’m doing for a weekend story.
But I met with him and Bob Bass (on and off) for about 90 minutes today. But between meeting with them, re-listening to the interview and then beginning to write it felt like I was with them all day.
Hopefully this comes through in the story, but if anything is true, Howard has a lot of enthusiasm for this traffic problem. For more than a year and a half he and others have been working on this project to restore two-way traffic, remove bump outs, improve Pratt Street, and more. It’s a ridiculously complicated and complex project.
On Sunday, you’ll get an in-depth look at the project and to plug an event next week: Tuesday at the library at 6pm there will be a discussion about the proposed plans. They are 1/3 of the way done which is not only a planning milestone, but a milestone that the state DOT will formally recognize. So it’s a big deal.
But a lot of people don’t get recognition all of the time, but Howard has been putting together and working out plans for this enormous project so it’s worth looking at that story. He’s also very involved in the citywide paving program and some new techniques they’ve been using in recent years. Interesting stuff.
I’m saving something for (hopefully) tomorrow. It’ll be a continuation of the engagement of the youth in the City of Meriden.
In the mean time, I’m going to leave this right here for you guys and sum it up briefly.
Apparently a police officer was upset with the city’s lack of snow removal on sidewalks and therefore fined the city for not clearing it.
That’s a new one. I think.
Here’s where I will reflect for a minute before I leave for the evening. Yes, there are still areas where you can drive by and see that snow was not removed from the sidewalks. Any parcel around town with a low wooden fence is city-owned (or for the most part) and therefore that snow has to be removed. Up until Monday night, 120 Crown St. was city-owned. That snow, dropped before the city disposed of the property, is still sitting there. That snow is likely mostly ice and difficult to break up.
Anyway, I can’t figure out how a payment would happen, but the city won’t be paying it. Would the Parks and Rec Dept. or Public Works Dept. have to write a check to the Police Department? In the overall scheme of things, it would just go down as a budget transfer from one department to another. I think. It’s strange. I mean, it shows that the PD is enforcing the city ordinances, but it is an interesting way of going about things.
Mayor Manny Santos appeared on WFSB’s Face the State Sunday with Dennis House. Here’s a look at how it went:
WFSB 3 Connecticut
Overall, it wasn’t a lot of new information for those living in Meriden and following along since Manny Santos began his run for mayor. But for the state, Santos has gotten very little attention. On election night, New Britain’s Erin Stewart was the story. There were a few others around the state.
Why? Well, Meriden doesn’t have the strong mayor form of government. But this was an interesting win nonetheless. Manny came out of nowhere, a Republican Latino, to unseat a longtime mayor/elected official.
You can watch, but there was talk about his background, his heritage, etc. As far as Meriden goes, Santos told House about Meriden’s downtown struggles, the fact that projects are underway and that he thinks the business climate is “terrible.”
In fairness, some new businesses have/will open in Meriden, but it’s not like the city is thriving in terms of bringing in new businesses. Santos said he wants to change the message for businesses, encourage them to come to Meriden, increase the tax base increase jobs, create a vibrant downtown, and so on. That’s a tall task for anybody, including a new mayor. We will see what happens in the next two years, but time is already flying by. Santos has been sworn in for three months. I’m not sure how much you can change in three months, but there are concerns out there with recent lawsuits and contentions council meetings.
On Monday, I sat in the third floor of a building that stands at the corner of Colony Street and West Main Street. Or East Main Street. I always thought the railroad tracks separated the two, but I read historical information that has referred to the buildings either way.
The building that looks like this:
Now that that’s cleared up, I was in that building. The one on the right. I was there specifically for a meeting about the Connecticut Main Street Center organization. Their program, Come Home to Downtown, is coming to Meriden. Planning is underway to convert part of the building into housing.
The room I was in is part of the
Greater Meriden Midstate Chamber of Commerce.The blinds were closed in the room, but it was interesting. It took about 3 seconds for me to think “this would make a great apartment.” The windows stretch from the ceiling almost to the ground. even with the blinds shut, it was bright enough with no lights on. Take down the curtains that blocked out a full wall of windows and it would be even brighter. Fix up the Hub across the street and make it a beautiful park…it would work.
Anyway, I’m sitting the meeting and people from the Chamber, city, local organizations, Connecticut Main Street, local developers….you get it….were there. Maybe 20, or so, in all. They are talking about the program, what the downtown plan is, etc.
And then they hit on community engagement. For all of these projects there is a real need not only for community engagement, but for younger community engagement. In this room of people in their 40s, 50s, 60s, etc. they are talking about how to engage with the local youth. For some it’s easier than others. For example, YMCA Director John Benigni was there, it’s not hard for him to track down a handful of 20-somethings that work part-time for him. Nobody was there from Middlesex due to a scheduling conflict, but it wouldn’t be hard for them. But everybody else, it’s not a simple process. How do you attract 20-somethings to actively get engaged in the community. There aren’t many Kevin Scarpati’s out there actively engaged in politics or the city’s plans for downtown.
But that’s a challenge the city is faced with. They are marketing this downtown plan (that is too complicated to explain in one sentence here) to younger people. It’s entirely possible to do, I’m not saying it isn’t. But it’s no secret that public meetings in most places only draw a small handful of residents and often they are ones you see fairly consistently.
Tuesday, March 11, there is another public meeting about reconfiguring traffic in downtown. I’m sure city officials will be excited to get people whether it’s 10 or 100, but the more input always the better.
That was a really long lead in to what my real point and interest is. Today, a friend on Facebook posted one of my stories. It was about the Meriden 2020 plan. And then something interesting happened. People responded. I was asked to get involved in the conversation. And then you had a group of 20-somethings talking about downtown Meriden.
As you can see, my responses were a little lengthy. But to summarize, I explained what plans are for the various projects and what the challenges are and why those challenges are there as best I could.
So maybe there are some skeptics and cynics living here in Meriden. There are people who have lived most of their life here and haven’t seen much in downtown. Or not enough, anyway. We hear stories of how wonderful downtown was in the 1950s and long for those days.
Those days aren’t coming back. those manufacturing jobs aren’t in Meriden anymore. Or CT. Or the US, for that matter. So the city is working toward something new. And while some don’t believe it will ever come to fruition, there appears to be some hope in the conversation above. I’m writing this on Friday around 5:30 and the conversation continues, but I’ll leave it here for you to read through.
So if Meriden is looking for some younger people to get involved and share their opinions, they are definitely out there and they’re anxious to learn about what is coming.
Last week it was some guy emailing me, this week it’s City Councilor Lenny Rich. They both appear to be not too fond of my work.
But I figured this was worth sharing on here for a few reasons.
But in all seriousness. My first reaction to this was to laugh. My name is spelled wrong. The Record Trash was pretty original (that’s sarcasm). And this is a city councilor. It’s not some joe schmoe taking his precious time to call me out. It’s an elected official who gets a kick out of using my name on Facebook when I can’t see it. It’s one thing if I’m Anderson Cooper and you’re never going to see me, I suppose, but I see him nearly every week.
There was a similar issue on Facebook between a Wallingford reporter and town councilor a while back. That town councilor ended up calling the reporter and apologizing. If Lenny had an issue, he could’ve called, but this is what social media has become, I guess.
Now let’s start with the phrase. Yes, Jack Biafore’s name has been used a lot lately. Jack is a plaintiff in a lawsuit against Corporation Michael Quinn that challenges his appointment. Also a plaintiff is Lois DeMayo, the chair of the We the People party. In another lawsuit the plaintiffs are Republican Town Committee members. That’s what they are known for; that’s why we identify them that way. They aren’t random residents, they are people elected to a seat on a town committee. They are very much associated with politics and they filed lawsuits over political appointments.
Jack was the one that stood out when the lawsuits were filed. I knew his name. I later found out he was Lenny’s brother in law. Lenny was active in getting Jack nominated to the RTC. I’m not saying Lenny has a hand in filing the lawsuit, though some have speculated that, I’m saying that somebody very much connected to a city councilor filed a lawsuit against the city. Jack told me he was a concerned citizen and that’s why he filed the lawsuit initially. He didn’t say he was asked to sign his name onto a lawsuit that somebody else was putting together. Others have speculated that. One plaintiff implied that that is how they got involved.
Full disclosure alert: I know who Jack is. Living in Meriden, growing up in Meriden, making a life in Meriden, people find a way to overlap. My wife has known Jack’s daughter for years. They went to school together. My kids know Jack’s grandkids. I don’t know Jack all that well. We talked for a little in court yesterday. We see and each other and say ‘hi.’ As I said, you live/work/play (see what I did there?) in Meriden, people overlap with work.
So I’m glad Lenny is proud of his brother-in-law. I like my brother-in-laws too. But when Lenny perceives the connection as a negative, he takes issue with it. I didn’t hear about Lenny having an issue when he was running for the City Council and we called him Mark Benigni’s father-in-law. To many, that’s how he was known though. Hell, if I was running for City Council, I’d probably remind people every chance I got. Not that he did. But it’s not a bad connection to have in this city.
For the same reason I write about Jack and his connection to the RTC and Lenny, I refer to Craig Fishbein not only as an attorney, but I write that he’s a Republican town councilor in Wallingford. He is. That’s how he is known to many in Wallingford. In Meriden, some people know and some don’t. Hugh Manke (who is representing the defendants in the lawsuit), I refer to as the guy who filed that independent report the city hired him to do. When other things come up, I note them. When things get even a little political, I make sure to mention Michael Quinn is a former member of the Democratic Town Committee. Evan Cossette was always mentioned as the son of the police chief. So when a lawsuit is brought up against city officials by somebody who is very connected to a city councilor, I’ll mention it. If Lenny is critical of the Board of Education budget, I’ll probably mention Mark. If Brian Daniels and Kevin Scarpati ask to recuse themselves from YMCA matters, I will say why. If David Lowell does something related to Hunters while on the council, it’ll be mentioned. The list goes on throughout the city.
I’m glad Jack speaks his mind. I’m glad people speak their mind. I like people who speak their mind. At least they have something to say. He follows that basically saying what I write is biased just like most everything in the newspaper and the newspaper has an agenda. I think that would imply that the paper is speaking its mind, but I could be wrong. No need to respond to that though. I’ll let whomever is reading to be the judge of the Record
Trash Urinal Journal and my writing.
And if he’s questioning what the “news” is, I’d say that the news was that the lawsuits were heard in court yesterday. I was reporting on them.
Today, Frankie Resto was sentenced to 53 years in jail. Resto, 38, plead guilty to murdering 70-year-old convenience store owner Ibrahim Ghazal in 2012.
Police showed the video tape just a few days after it happened. It was hard to watch. A man appearing to be Resto walks in, clearly demands money and pulls out the gun, Ghazal hands the money over and something interesting happens. Resto doesn’t hold back much and clearly decides to pull the trigger. It cuts to black before you see what happens next, but you know what happens.
I remember the day fairly well. It was a strange one. An uncomforting one, knowing that a man was murdered for seemingly no reason just a few hundred feet up the road from where I type now. No reason, just to kill.
I didn’t get too involved in covering this story. I had something else to cover. That morning a woman drove the wrong way on the Berlin Turnpike and into Meriden making it pretty far before causing a multi-car accident at the connection point of I691, I91 and Route 15. Not only did the highway shut off there, but the whole city basically shut down. Traffic was a mess anywhere near an exit. Just driving by the Miller Avenue exit was a nightmare. Two rows of cars were being directed off the highway into a residential neighborhood.
What I remember about the Resto situation - not that it was all that long ago - was just that it didn’t feel safe. Other murders followed and although everybody knew that the incidents weren’t directly related, people were clearly worried.
Resto was named as a suspect within a few days, I believe. I was working that Saturday when police said he was wanted for questioning. He turned himself in not that much longer. He was sent back to Connecticut, appeared in front of a judge and the video was chilling. He looked like a scary guy. An evil guy some people said. He snickered at one of Ghazal’s daughters as she was crying.
I’ve since sat down with that daughter and talked with her. It’s terrible. A beloved family member was taken from the family for no real reason. You feel terrible for them.
It’s strange looking at him in that picture. A shirt and tie. Glasses. Not quite the same-looking guy that you saw on video surveillance that day.
As far as his nickname goes, he was known as the Razor. That’s what the media outlets are saying anyway. It was actually Navaja, if I remember correctly - Spanish for razor. I mean, they translate, but just pointing it out.
Hopefully it gives the family some comfort that this guy is likely behind bars for the rest of his life. I know it might not. They prefer to see him in there for life or dead probably because there’s no taking back what happened. Nothing will bring back a man that came here from Jordan to start his business in a convenience store/gas station. He was living the American dream and providing for his family. Resto will likely be remembered just for his face and for what happened. But don’t forget Ghazal for doing something so honorable.
I did a double or tripe take this morning when I saw Maloney football coach Pierce Brennan was leaving. Brennan had been hired about a year ago to fill the position that had been held by Bob Zito for nine years.
I don’t know the details of Zito’s leaving. I only know that his contract was, by choice, not renewed, and he was interested in coming back. Of course we could spend a while speculating on what the reasons were, but to suddenly move away from a guy that had been there nine years is certainly a statement.
In steps Brennan, an assistant coach at Trinity Pawing, a New York prep school. It was clear Brennan wanted to ultimately wind up in Connecticut. He turned down becoming Trinity Pawling’s head coach to come here. His wife was working at Quinnipiac, so it made sense.
Now the question is what Brennan’s intentions were when he came here. Did he truly want to reshape the Maloney football program or was it a launching pad to another job? Or was he just looking for a way out after a 1-9 year? Or was this simply a better job for him and he was truly interested?
He said it was the “hardest decision I’ve ever had to make in my professional career.” He’s still young, I’d imagine there are a few tougher decisions ahead of him. But he has an 11-month-old. He admitted his decision hurts a lot of people. He said it’s tough.
I’ve got kids. I know every decision you make has to be done with the thought of your children. I know it’s tough because, I imagine, each step of the way you’re probably somewhere you want to be in that moment.
I can applaud Brennan for knowing how it will appear. Though, he says it appears he’s “busting out the door” after a 1-9 year. He doesn’t say he’s jumping over to a prep school and that’s where he prefers to be. I don’t know if he prefers to be at a prep school, but he seems to prefer it.
Unfortunately, it’s a decision that impacts dozens of kids. Maloney has a pretty good history when it comes to football. The last 10-15 years have been up and down, however. There were clearly things that lead to Zito’s contract not being renewed and because of that, I’d say the school and school district wanted better leadership in there. Brennan was always praised for his leadership and discipline. That’s probably why he was hired.
Now that Brennan is gone, they need somebody new. So they go through this process again. Last year there were three finalists, two of which were hometown guys. One coached at Weaver and another in Middletown. Maybe they will apply again.
This time around, I’m guessing they will be looking for similar discipline and similar leadership. And last time, they probably thought it would be a good idea to get somebody who would stick around. I doubt they imagined he would be out after year 1. So hiring a hometown guy could make some sense - somebody with some interest in staying. Then again, maybe they aren’t the most qualified candidate. Whatever the case, it’s a choice and decision that impacts quite a few students and now, on top of the need for leadership and discipline, is some stability.
This post goes beyond Caddyshack, Ghostbusters and Groundhog’s Day. Though they are all wonderful movies, of course.
When I heard/read Harold Ramis died yesterday my mind flipped to one specific scene. It was a scene that has always meant a lot to me.
Warning: if your workplace frowns upon foul language or discussion of drugs, you should probably plug in your headphones. Also fast forward to the 49 second mark.
I saw Knocked Up shortly after it came out in 2007. I thought it was a funny movie.
A couple years later, at the age of 20, I found out I was going to be a father. I was still in school. I had no experience with children under the age of maybe 5. I had been working the last couple of summers at a camp and that’s how I got basically all of my experience in working with children.
I had this plan that I was going to go to school, graduate, become a sports writer. Things were going to be great. Then I found out the news. And my first reaction isn’t what it should have been. That’s because I didn’t know how to react. Up until then, I had lived my entire life centered on me. Mostly only caring about me.
So I went back and watched this movie. I was, by no means, Seth Rogen. But I saw his character as somebody who didn’t know what he was getting into. And so I watched it. Surprisingly, you learn a bit about the process, about life about what you experience along the way. I’m probably now closer to Paul Rudd in this movie.
"Life doesn’t care about your vision, OK? Stuff happens and you just gotta deal with it, roll with it. That’s the beauty of it all."
And it’s true. Nothing is every going to work out how you expect it to. It’s not going to be what your original definition of ‘perfect’ at the time was. And you do just have to deal and roll with it.
That doesn’t mean it was easy. I went through my senior year of college with a a pregnant girlfriend. It wasn’t what I envisioned, but now, would I change it? No. Few people are able to say their child was born while it was spring break. I took the week that most people are off vacationing and I had a child instead. I wrapped up my senior year, got a job, we got a place to stay for a little over a year in Southington and then bought a house in Meriden. We got a dog. We had a second child. I love my life.
Again, it was never easy. I don’t expect for anybody having a child to be easy. Living life on a journalist’s salary isn’t easy either, of course. Would I change anything? I don’t know. Maybe I get a different major and go into a different profession. You don’t always sign up to be a journalist to make the big bucks, but that’s one of the first things they tell you at school. And I like what I do.
So while life doesn’t get simpler after a child is born, it doesn’t change what happened or what the future holds. Like Harold says at the 2:00 minute mark, having a child is the best thing that could ever happen to you. Whether at age 20 or age 40, it’s the most important thing you will do. Now is it harder at age 20 than, say, 30 when you might have a job and you’re established and not in school? Yeah, probably. But I will be a young father and there are some benefits to that. When my first son is off at college I won’t even be 40. When my second one gets there I’ll be about the same age. Let’s face it, very few 20 year olds make an impact on the community or the world when they’re 20. I’d rather be 40-ish and have some free time. Maybe back then I would have preferred the “free time,” but right now I’m experiencing the best moments of my life.
But this is what Harold Ramis meant to me. When I was just 20 years old and scared out of my mind, he gave me a little bit of peace of mind that everything, one day, would be OK. When I went months without telling a single person, I was scared and not knowing what was going to happen. But from these few movie lines, I thought that it would all work itself out as long as I rolled with it because this would be the best thing that ever happened to me.
And it was.
Anonymous asked: DId the ranting lunatic put his name on this letter? He and his fellow negative criticizers are what is wrong with Meriden. These total losers will never be happy!
No name was left, intentionally anyway. The name was listed at the top next to the email address, but it wasn’t signed or anything like that. I’ve had people leave me anonymous tips in the past and have the same thing happen. I’ve also had people criticize me or the paper in the past and have the same thing happen.
Note: This is a real email I received this week. Before you read it, there was no specific story mentioned, no specific incident, and I have no idea who this person is. I blacked out the email address/name because I’m a nice guy (who will never get a job at the New York Times).
On occasion, I get emails. Some critical, some asking questions, some saying ‘nice job’. and then every once in a while I get an odd one. I guess this one falls under critical, but odd also fits the bill.
I haven’t responded. My first response was to laugh. Then you think about responding, but what’s the point?
Let’s recap some key highlights:
So that’s the email. One of my new favorites. It will be taped to a wall and live in infamy. We have sections of a wall at the RJ where we post interesting or funny things. We have a couple pictures of people who used to be here. And we have a wall of shame-type section. That’s where this one will go. Not because of his political views or because he used the word messiah or because I disagree with anything in there. It’s more because this person took the time to chastise a person, used an email address without their name and didn’t sign there name and seemed to think nothing of it. You’re taught to have thick skin in this business. The fact that I’m spending more time laughing at it shows I could care less. If people think the reporting is biased, that’s one thing. If they think it’s biased then spew their own opinions that are this extreme, that’s another thing. That said, his name is attached to the email address and therefore it sent that way. That happens every once in a while. So, thanks for that, John.
I think I’m just going to transcribe this meeting and have it be printed in the paper. This writes itself.— Dan Brechlin (@DanBrechlinRJ) February 19, 2014
I’m still not quite sure what happened at Tuesday night’s City Council meeting. What I do know is that the situation is becoming all to familiar.
Here’s a quick rundown.
If you prefer to read it here, then I’ll make it quick. If not, skip the bullet points.
And then the night carried on like it never happened. It was taken as a written communication (I think) and will likely be discussed next meeting if not tabled for vetting.
I’m not sure why it happened this way. I’m not sure why it carried out for as long as it did. At first, I didn’t even want to mention it happened in the paper. Then it continued. And continued. And continued. I couldn’t avoid it. I Tweeted it. I knew I had to write about it.
Why didn’t I want to write about it? Because nothing happened, technically. But it became a showcase not only last night’s meeting but for the last few months. The mayor tries to do something. Corporation counsel advises otherwise. It gets argued about for quite a while. It has happened multiple times and it will happen again, I’m sure.
Of course the Record-Journal building sale was also discussed. That was something on the agenda. It’s a big purchase and the city has a few other properties that have been questioned in the past so it was again questioned whether this should be taken on. Ultimately, the answer was yes. By a wide margin. It was discussed again and it was the 3rd or 4th time I sat through similar discussions on it. That happens, I understand.
But almost an hour on something that wasn’t even up for discussion? Was it really something that couldn’t have waited? Most would argue no. Through Tweets and the article, I received quite a bit of feedback. Very few thought it was something that should have been discussed at that much length. They were certainly interested in what was going on though.
It was councilor Matt Dominello who called the situation and past situations nitpicking and nonsense. People seem to agree.
The conversation didn’t have to last that long. But every time one person made a point, another had to come back. One person made a misstatement or made something up, the fact needed to be corrected. Something came off as bullying or a personal attack, there was a response. And it just went on and on.
No matter what somebody says about you in life, sometimes you just have to let it roll of your back. That said, when somebody makes a misstatement, or makes an accusation, or doesn’t know the full story, I like to make the correction. Tuesday, there were plenty of misstatements and corrections. That seems to be what the council has become on some nights. A back and forth on corrections. It’s unfortunate because the council should be trying to improve things, not arguing about an environmental study for the umpteenth time.
If I just transcribed the meeting, it would have taken up a page or two of the newspaper, but it would be worth the read for the public not in attendance. It will be worth it to watch, as well. I spoke with a councilor today who said they will watch because they weren’t sure what happened either. It got a little nuts pretty quickly.
You have to wonder how long this will continue. Is every issue, big or small, going to be debated like this? Like I said, you’re buying the RJ building, it’s a big sale, debate it, ask questions, state where you stand.
It will be interesting to track the way people are perceived from this. Too many of these issues and the mayor may come off looking bad. Or to some people, he may look good. I’m not sure.
On the flip side, those most outspoken are at risk, as well. Each small correction could be seen as nitpicking. Or it could be seen as doing the right thing. But the frequency of these things is going to be important to keep track of over 2 years.
I guess it’s ironic that the presentation that followed this argument was one about a marketing plan for the city. Everyone agrees the perception needs to change. Hopefully the perception doesn’t change to one of a city of nitpicking and nonsense.
Very soon Verizon is consolidating its operations in Connecticut, vacating the call center locations they have on Research Parkway in Meriden and another in Rocky Hill. Their operation in Wallingford will become a customer service facility and people who specialize in other fields will be asked to apply elsewhere within Verizon, move to a new location or leave the company.
These things happen, unfortunately. People who have lived in the area forever are asked to move or their jobs are eliminated, whatever the case is. Businesses think with a business mind and look to save money where they can. This is an obvious savings: move to a building you own, consolidate and get out of lease agreements in buildings where you are already renting too much space.
In this case though, jobs aren’t being eliminated, just moved. Now if I’m in that position and my options are to move to California, Florida or New York, I’m probably staying put. My family is here. My life is here. And I’m not quite ready to leave.
Oh, but you’re going to give me $500 just to travel there and another $10,000 as relocation money? Well, ummm, let me think about it.
That’s what these employees are being faced with. Now of course whatever their salary is, I don’t know. That plays in as a factor. Whether or not you have family somewhere is a factor. But would I move for $10,000? That’s the million dollar question.
There’s not a ton of money in the newspaper business as you might imagine and that number certainly isn’t growing exponentially. But if my employer came to me one day and asked me if I’d move and they’d offer that incentive, I’d have to consider it.
It’s a tough choice when you have a family though. Can I just pack up and leave? Well, my kids are young enough where they aren’t leaving life-long friends. But I would be leaving family. Then again, California? Or Tampa? That’s pretty nice weather. And $10k is a lot of money, especially to a journalist. I could pack up my house, sell it, buy a new place or rent free for a few months in a new location, essentially.
Either way, I’m sure it’s a tough choice. You wonder how many people will actually take it. Some companies will suggest their employees relocate or apply elsewhere within the company, but that much money is nothing to scoff at. I guess it’s nice to see a company offer that over nothing.
On Sunday, the Record-Journal launched a new page: Uncovering Harbor Brook. Since implementing a new computer system, we have done a little work with new pages - mostly election-based coverage - but this will be the first full page that we build over time.
It came together rather quickly. A couple of years ago we had a Hub page, but it fell apart for a few reasons. Progress at the Hub was a little stalled which held back the page and there was probably not enough oversight of the page at the time to keep it going full time.
But now work is about to start. This is one of the biggest and (some would argue) most important projects in the history of the city. Why is this happening and what will it do? Here’s your answer.
The long and short is that there is a significant flooding issue the city must address in downtown. If it isn’t fixed, nothing else will be fixed or improve any time soon. So that’s where they start.
But myself, Richie Rathsack and Eric Cotton got to talking about making some type of page about the Hub. We discussed whether it made sense to incorporate other aspects of downtown or not. We decided, for now, that just the map at the bottom will suffice. But we plan to expand the page. What we rolled out may just be a rough draft.
The idea with the webpage is to educate the public. There’s a lot of cynicism. There’s a lot of doubt. There’s plenty of misunderstanding.
So we took some of what we had and began building. We threw in some past stories, some renderings we had, build some photo galleries, I constructed a Google Map that I continue to work on and update, we made a pretty cool gif, found some cool historical shots, and I essentially wrote a story to explain why it’s happening. That story will sit there for a long time and I expect people to refer to it when they start not understanding or forget why it’s happening.
I will periodically write stories about the timeline, what is going on, what is expected to happen, etc. At some point there will be a live video feed for the construction site. there will be video in the near future of city officials explaining this and other projects. There will be polls and quizzes. there will be facts of the day or week, or whatever.
Basically what happened though is that we put this together. We showed some people at the company in other departments and in the management level. They liked it. And now we have their help and support. So in a few weeks this page won’t quite look the same. That’s a good thing. It looks fine now, but with more help we have time to expand. Much like the state is looking at Meriden’s downtown project as a model for how to do TOD in the future and for state departments to work together, this is quickly going to become the model for how departments work together in this company to build a page. That’s a good thing.
So feel free to give feedback. Let us know what you want to see. We are open to just about anything and will soon be formally looking for your feedback to include on the page.