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Requiem for a Responsive Local Government

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Target Field in Minnesota. The Twins were smart enough to jump out of bed with the Solomons, the owners of the Rock Cats, why did the City stay the course? Capitalism, of course!


Hartford’s children are among the poorest in the nation. Instead of debating how to decrease class size in elementary schools or increase aid to single, impoverished mothers, we have spent the past five months discussing a bright shiny thing.

Forget the studies showing how investment in early childhood education pays more dividends than stadiums. Six people on the Court of Common Council won’t listen.

I left the final vote on the stadium on Tuesday, October 14, 2014 before Council Alex Aponte even called my name to testify. Consider it a silent protest for the thousands who were ignored during this process.

Council Aponte, who should have been suspended from the practice of law and removed from his position on Council for his well-documented transgressions, instead told me before the meeting he was happy with the process, which I characterized as a charade.

Mayor Pedro Segarra was right, after all. It was a done deal. While not the deal that he originally thought, he always had the votes to ram this through Court of Common Council.

Cynthia Jennings had made up her mind the first day she came to our first Stop the Stadium Coalition meeting at 15 Warrenton Street back in June.

Council Ken Kennedy told me that his council aide, Jean Holloway, didn’t even let him read my letter I sent last week, because, she told him he didn’t have to read it because I essentially called him a liar.

Essentially, he was. And he wasn’t even good about it. If Shawn Wooden and his puppets were smart, from the get go, they would have assigned Kyle Anderson and Ken Kennedy the role of the skeptic, and they could have used no votes on Council as leverage to extract more concessions from the developers.

As it stands now, they did not get any concessions or perks. Instead, we get a stadium planned to be built right next to a high school.

Out of the other 156 minor league baseball stadiums in the United States, how many are near to schools? A handful, and none, as far as I can tell, are directly across the street from a high school as is planned for Hartford.

Allentown, Pennsylvania – a city where I used to sell minor league baseball cards to its independent league franchise – now has the Phillies AAA team. Coca-Cola Park is a block away from a high school, and, amazingly, that high school is allowed to play its regular season games at the park.

We weren’t even smart enough to get Capital Prep the right to play in the Rock Cats stadium. Why? Because kids don’t matter. Never listen to what a politician says. Look at what they do. Judge by acts, not words.

Here, the acts show us putting kids in the middle of a circus. No other community has done this to a high school, as best as I can tell.

An elementary school and a high school are two blocks away from Appalachian Power Park in Charleston, West Virginia, a single-A stadium, but separated by a hospital, according to Google maps.

Out in Ogden, Utah, DaVinci Academy of Science and the Arts is three blocks away from Lindquist Field, where the Ogden Raptors, a single-A affiliate of the Los Angeles Dodgers, play.

Cheney Stadium in Tacoma, Washington hosts the Tacoma Rainiers, the Triple-AAA team for the Seattle Mariners. It’s a block away from Foss High School. Not directly across the street.

McCoy Stadium in nearby Pawtucket, Rhode Island is across the street from the Jacqueline M. Walsh School for the Performing and Visual Arts, but a massive parking lot separates the actual stadium walls from the school.

The situation in Pawtucket looks a lot like New Britain, where trees and grass block the high school from the stadium. Not like is proposed for Downtown Hartford.

And did we mention this high school in Hartford will be right across the street from a brewery, too? Yeah, I thought we did. Teaching irresponsible consumption of alcohol with mixed messages is an important part of preserving oligarchy and oppressing the masses.

Where has the illustrious Steve Perry been in this debate? Why isn’t he crying bloody murder that his prize high school is being tarnished by a brewery in close proximity? And whose tax dollars will pay to clean up all the beer cups and litter after a game?

So, no one in the United States has thought it appropriate planning and zoning to put a minor league ballpark directly across the street from a high school. Why?

Probably because they all thought it was a bad idea. But arguments like this are lost on Court of Common Council. The capitalist machinery of exploitation doesn’t pause for facts or logic.

And you can’t say the stadium won’t have a major impact on Capital because of summer vacation. Recall that Capital studetns attend school almost all year. This inanity was never even debated. And if we did bring it up, we would have been ignored, as we were this whole summer.

I felt very angry last night in City Hall. Watching Sandra Kee Borges and Alex Aponte and the other usual suspects prowl the corridors of power left me extremely frustrated.

We can document, with precise evidence, some of the bad deeds these people have done while in power, the ways they have bent the rules to suit their ends.

And here we were, watching them in the process of committing another bad act, completely unable to stop them, despite organizing for months. What does it take to get justice.

I had to leave, because it wasn’t healthy for me to stay. The anger made my heart race, and I felt contemptuous of those people disregarding the welfare of the citizenry for a bright, shiny thing. That is corruption.

Much like how the Convention Center has not changed the reality of the North End, the stadium will be the same. In a social media message last week, Luis Cotto, former City Councilman, suggested that Unity Plaza and Barbour Street seemed worse to him now than they did when he lived here.

Dozens of comments chimed in, agreeing with him in part. So why did we do this? Corruption is not always payola.

Assuming the stadium of magic beans passes Planning and Zoning, in a decade, downtown will be almost completely built out. But the rest of the City will still be stuck in the Great Depression.

Why? Because despite our best efforts, the City of Hartford has fallen victim to the great stadium swindle. Life goes on. Forget how City fathers – and they are all men here except for Cynthia Jennings – but she certainly did not represent the interests of her gender.

She will argue jobs, jobs, jobs. But what of the jobs the City will cut when it cannot make the budget because of $5 million in stadium payments? Pshah, Krayeske. You lost. Shut up and move on.

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