POWELL: No one dares to answer for disaster of state's cities

Published on Wednesday, 27 January 2021 20:51
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Nearly everyone in Connecticut knows that its capital city, Hartford, is a mess, and that its largest city, Bridgeport, is too. Yet for saying so about Hartford in an essay in The Wall Street Journal on New Year's Day, former gubernatorial candidate Bob Stefanowski continues to generate outrage from news organizations and the establishment leaders they strive to give voice to. Predictably enough, none of the responses has addressed Stefanowski's specific criticisms. Instead the responses have constituted only mindless boosterism for Hartford.

Decades of boosterism haven't improved the city but the latest installment may be meant to prevent the failure of Connecticut's urban policies from becoming the issue it should be.

For example, why, despite ever-greater state spending on Hartford, do its demographics grow only poorer and its schools never improve?

Though it was already insolvent and a ward of the state, why was Hartford allowed to borrow tens of millions of dollars to build a minor-league baseball stadium, leading to a $500 million bailout by state government? State government could have prevented that disaster, so why didn't it?

Why did Hartford Mayor Luke Bronin pander to the "defund the police" crowd by reducing the city police budget by $2 million only to have to appeal for state troopers a few weeks later as crime in the city exploded?

Even the news organizations purporting to serve Hartford have yet to pose such questions. With his essay Stefanowski began to do so, and the response from those news organizations was only: That's mean! Don't do that again!

What's really mean is leaving Hartford, Bridgeport, and New Haven in perpetual poverty and dysfunction, where they will stay until the failures of policy and management are acknowledged. As Stefanowski wrote, state government shares responsibility for those failures. Those who took offense at their mere mention now share responsibility too.


Congratulations to the Hartford Courant for pledging, in the name of social justice, to do less of what it hardly had been doing anyway: publishing police photos, "mug shots," of arrested people.

This pledge was just a load of what is called virtue signaling, since few mug shots have appeared in the Courant lately not because of concern for social justice but because of the newspaper's long retreat from local news.

Of course this retreat doesn't contradict the Courant's argument that mug shots can be prejudicial and contribute to racial stereotyping. But crime itself is racially disproportionate, and it is not stereotyping to acknowledge it. A mug shot doesn't stereotype; it signifies an actual arrest. And any arrest publicity is potentially prejudicial.

So is the public not to be reminded that crime is racially disproportionate, just as family disintegration, educational failure, and poverty are? And is criminal justice not to be watched closely so injustice may be diminished? Are only the arrests and mug shots of white people to be published?

One could get that impression lately, as national news organizations are going out of their way to publicize any trivial incident in which a white person mistreats a Black person, like the incident the other day in New York City where a white woman mistakenly accused a Black teenager of stealing her cell phone. Meanwhile there is no reporting of trivial incidents in which Blacks mistreat whites. Are there no such incidents, or is political correctness overwhelming the news?


University of Connecticut President Thomas C. Katsouleas toadied to political correctness again last week in responding to an internet petition urging the university to "condemn" two students from Stafford who attended the "Stop the Steal" protest in Washington that ended with the attack on the Capitol. There was no allegation that the students broke the law, but one was photographed with the infamous provocateur Alex Jones.

Responding to the petition, Katsouleas wrote that Jones is "despicable." Katsouleas did not write that the university has no business condemning anyone for peacefully exercising his First Amendment rights.

So a teaching moment was lost. Instead the P.C. petitioners were reminded of how easily the university president can be made to dance. Students may be learning that much anyway.

Chris Powell is a columnist for the Journal Inquirer in Manchester.

Posted in The Bristol Press, Column, Editorials on Wednesday, 27 January 2021 20:51. Updated: Wednesday, 27 January 2021 20:53.