One of the eyeopening things to come out of jury selection at the trial of Mayor Eddie Perez was something his lawyer had feared: an anti-Hartford mentality. Columnist Helen Ubinas talks about it here: http://www.ctnow.com/news/connecticut/hc-ubinas-eddie-perez0415.artapr15,0,6143412.column
Some of the what the potential jurors said reminded me of an obnoxious woman I encountered a few years back. I live in the city and am well aware of the problems it has, but I also am proud to be a Hartfordite and will defend what should be rightly defended.
Anyway, I was at an event and a woman who identified herself as the wife of a town official approached me. I won’t say her name, or identify the town, only to say it is a Hartford suburb. She criticized my decision to live in Hartford, ranting about something along the lines of “how could raise your children there? It is not fair to them!”
She then proceeded to pull out a photograph of a smashed car window and an empty GPS holder on the dashboard. She told me the tale of how her GPS was stolen in the South End. As just about everybody knows GPS thefts happen everywhere, especially when people like this woman leave those devices in plain view. A quick check of the WFSB archives shows we have done stories on GPS break-ins in Southington, Middletown, Manchester and this woman’s suburb, too.
I explained why we live in Hartford and gave her some of the many reasons the capital city is our home. She wouldn’t let it rest…with an incredulous look on her face, she continued to trash the city. “You should live in _______ like me, it is a great town,” she bellowed. I was so sick of listening to her drivel, I regretfully stooped to her level, and ticked off the reasons I would not live there, and it was easy. “It is not pedestrian friendly, has no interesting architecture, no community feel,” and the list went on. If I write any more in this blog, you will guess the town, and I don’t want to offend the good people who live there.
There is no denying it, there is an anti-Hartford mentality out there, and most city residents are aware of it, and also are deeply disappointed the administration hasn’t done more to improve the city. Visitors to the city can’t help but feel uneasy and turned off when they see no fewer than five big vacant buildings downtown. They are eyesores. Some have sat unchanged, except for advanced decay, since the turn of the century.
The glacial speed of progress has given the city a bad rap. Since the 1990s, there’s been talk of using eminent domain to take the long vacant Summit Hotel from its neglectful owner. Where does that stand? The YMCA, with one of the best views is about to celebrate its fourth anniversary of being empty. The list of blighted properties scaring off visitors is long.
The perception of crime doesn’t help, and the lack of a city cheerleader helps feed that anti-Hartford mentality.