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Do Hartford Residents Care About the City?

By Kerri Provost

May 27, 2010

This has been the question posed, but the definition of caring is one that I reject. The Courant has framed the issue as follows: Hartford residents do or do not care about the city based on political corruption and/or low voter turnout.

As if those were the only indicators of caring!

Don’t Blame Me for Perez

I have voted in every election. Because I am not able to see the world through rose-colored glasses, I know that people can be corrupt, evil, or just plain stupid, regardless of party affiliation; thus, I do not vote along any party line. Although I do not despise him as many do, I have never voted for Perez. And guess what? Many others in Hartford did not vote for him either. Citing as proof that Hartford residents do not care because Mayor Perez was reelected is like saying Americans did not care because GWB was elected twice. I do not understand why some would cast their votes in favor of certain candidates, but they do.

Low voter turnout is a problem, but it is not a problem unique to Hartford. Even in presidential elections, Americans do not take part as they could. Do we blame voters for not participating in a system that they view as broken or unable to be affected by the people? I don’t. I’ll admit to not always believing that my vote matters, but I do it anyway…in the same way that I wear a seatbelt or a bike helmet. It might be futile, but then, it might not, and it does not hurt me to do so.

Instead of framing the outcome of an election as a sign that Hartford residents do not care, why do we not ask instead why better candidates are not running for political office?

I do not care about Perez

Sure, I care about him as a human being. He’s never been unpleasant in my very few interactions with him. But I do not care about his trial. There. I said it.

The media cares about the Perez trial because it is scandalous (low grade scandal is what I would call it) and scandal sells papers, gets viewers, and allows “reporters” to sit in a court room tweeting inane, irrelevant observations, passing that off as news.

It’s not that I am a supporter of corruption. If the Mayor did in fact do something illegal, he should be punished appropriately for it. But — here’s a shocker — his fancy counter tops do not affect my everyday life. They are not the first thing I think of in the morning and the last thing before I go to sleep. No, the last thing I think about when going to bed is how the “noise ordinance with teeth” is more like one with dentures, in that when residents call for enforcement, the teeth have been removed. I care about the need for stronger enforcement of leash laws. There are people who let their pit bulls roam, which causes problems when they tangle with other dogs; there are some in my neighborhood who are afraid they will be bitten. Another thing I care about is how lackadaisical traffic law enforcement is. The police only need to park themselves at the corner of Broad and Capitol to meet any ticket quotas they might have. Every single time I am at this intersection I see people running red lights, speeding through the intersection, and doing other amazingly idiotic things, like texting while turning. Sit by the highway on and off ramps. I would feel safer standing in the middle of a driving school parking lot. I care about low literacy, bullying in schools, and the lack of employment for residents. I care that in certain neighborhoods where there are high rates of diabetes, obesity, and high blood pressure, I see prominent billboards advertising alcohol and fast food. I care about the way downtown landlords price out low income residents or new small businesses, how the city demolishes buildings they own rather than maintain them so that they can be used, how the parks are not maintained as they should be, and how a minority of violent thugs make life unbearable in small sections of the city.

When I do not have so many other things to care about, then maybe I will have room in my brain for caring about a rather minor accusation made of a politician, who, by the way, has not gotten us into a war (or two), permitted torture, or wrecked the economy. Let’s prioritize our outrage. If Perez acted illegally, then he should be punished, but there is no need to sensationalize the trial, as this is not worthy of sensationalism.

Reprinted with permission of Kerri Provost, author of the blog RealHartford. To view other stories on this topic, search RealHartford at http://www.realhartford.org/.
| Last update: September 25, 2012 |
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