The Council is again moving forward with the linear trail. I understand the December Council meeting made two things happen:
1) $812,000 in federal and state grants was reallocated to the West Main Street to Jarvis Street section; and
2) the state DOT was asked to design the entire West Main to Southington trail.
The NHRs Luther Turmelle explains that the tradeoff in getting the DOT to do this work was a Council promise to move forward with the trail in next August's capital budget.
the funding is contingent on the town making a good faith effort to include the project in the 2011-12 capital budget and to get voters to approve the expenditure in November.
And since this stretch of trail is estimated to cost more than $2,000,000, we should probably expect to see more than a million property tax dollars included in the November 2011 referenda for this stretch of trail.
Although I don't support the idea of borrowing and spending more money on expanded services until we -- Cheshire, Hartford & Washington -- get our financial house in order, the Council does. As such, I have a suggestion:
Follow the lead of the turf supporters and fundraise to complete this project.
There's even some big funding available from non-government sources. American Express recently donated $200,000 for rails-to-trails. With some effort -- besides forced taxation at the local, state and federal levels of future taxpayers -- maybe Cheshire could score a trail grant?
Wednesday, December 29, 2010
The Council is again moving forward with the linear trail. I understand the December Council meeting made two things happen:
With all the snow on the ground... and forecasts of $4 gasoline by this spring... energy conservation may be on the minds of many of you.
Energy Commission member Walt Gayeski forwarded me this real-life example of performance contracts that are being engaged in the Milford school system, as well as the Amity School District (Bethany, Orange & Woodbridge).
But this is only an example. In reading the article, it appears that Milford schools first addressed their envelope issues. And now they're addressing their energy issues. Cheshire's plan is to simultaneously tackle both energy and envelope issues, as well as both school and town buildings.
Thursday, December 23, 2010
I'm sitting in the Port-au-Prince international airport, Toussaint l'Ouverture.* And I'm on my laptop... loving how much technology has improved. Unfortunately, best I can tell I can probably only access about half the websites I try to visit with my current connection. So I say this with caution because I can only read the URL.
Apparently my former high school gym teacher, Steve Addazio, has been named the head football coach at Temple University. Good for him. For those of you who don't know the history, Coach Addazio is the pretty much the one-man show that turned an average football team into one of the best teams in the country.
I graduated in 1990. And Coach started at CHS while I was probably sophomore or junior. Anyway in the fall of 1989, Coach brought our team to the state championship and we lost to Glastonbury. Two years later he began is five-year unbeaten streak.
Now that's not the UConn girls... or the Ed Aston girls' swim team... but it's still a fantastic record. If I recall correctly, near the end of the streak the Rams had the second-longest winning streak in the country.
* Monsieur l'Ouverture is the George Washington of Haiti.
Tuesday, December 21, 2010
Here's Part II of the story I began telling yesterday about my birthday adventure...
We had arrived at Klinik St. Joseph and the place was mobbed. It was payday for a joint project with a great NGO, CRS. The Church does some great stuff. I think they’re one of the biggest charities in the world. We were working together on a road extension project.
Apparently there were villages beyond the end of the road… and “Blanc” was going to take me. No, Geral’s not a white guy. But he is fairly light-skinned and he’s got a full head of hair and a beard – both of which are completely white. Hence, the name Blanc which dumdum me finally figured it out.
After grabbing my water bottle from the truck, we began hoofing it. Frankly, I wasn’t entirely sure where we were headed… except out in the field to see the roadwork. And though there was clearly some new road construction down the hill to the left, we were marching forward, up the hill.
Ok. I guess so. I’m usually game for some adventure. And we were definitely headed somewhere that I would never find in my Lonely Planet… so I knew this would be fun… just always had those lingering concerns about cholera… and considering how quickly it kills, after about fifteen minutes of walking I was thinking… ok… don’t touch anyone… don’t take any chances. We soon crested the hill.
There she was. A beautiful, brand-spankin-new, cobblestone road that most four-wheel drives could handle. What I could see was winding, but pretty much flat and we weren’t allowed to drive on it yet. It was clear that this part of the road went thru the wetlands. So this work was really just elevating the road. Not easy stuff to do when you have no heavy machinery, but it was almost certainly easier than what I had heard was happening.
We came to the road and toward the mountains we went. The road here had never seen any motor vehicle with more than two wheels. It was an easy enough walk, except for the heat. And even that wasn’t too bad. As I learned on Kilimanjaro, when you're a mile high... even the equator can be cool.
Passing a 2,000 square foot, cement church on the left… going by some beautifully manicured lawns and a house painted sky blue on the right… here’s a candy, rice and flour vendor on the left… and there’s some people doing their wash in the river over there… it’s everyday life in these remote parts. But then, this wasn’t really that remote.
A stand of trees was behind us now and I saw some incredible roadwork. Unbelievable really. A cobblestone road heading up one heck of a steep climb. I looked at Geral and he looked at me, "allez." He nodded for us to head up the hill… umm… ok. I was secretly hoping that that was it. But no. It wasn’t. As we began our ascent, I thought I’d seen enough… I was tired… I didn’t need to see anymore. But there they were. The laborers. And that one steep stretch had hundreds of workers all over. That was why I was here... to see what we're doing in the field.
The genesis of this project was where the earthquake met healthcare. People had been living in these remote villages for centuries. And really nothing had changed significantly. There may not have even been much population growth since Haiti’s revolution in the 1790s. The earthquake changed all that.
Port-au-Prince collapsed on January 12, 2010. And there was a huge outward migration from there. People fled to the hills… fled to find their family… even distant family because they had nowhere else to turn. The tent cities are a nightmare. There’s no personal safety. From what I hear, the level of crime in them is extremely high. And on top of that, you have the fear factor. Who wants to live in constant fear?
So the influx to the remote mountain top villages began. With it came a strain on healthcare services – particularly those for expectant moms – that were already in short supply.
Turn a three hour walk into a one hour drive! Well, not exactly. But that’s the general idea. Plus there are other huge benefits to the project that I'll get to....
As we walked past team after team, it was apparent to me that this was a community effort. Some people were getting paid. Others were volunteering. Children… probably 12 to 15 years old were raking the red clay to provide a flat surface… it had been carved from the hill to provide edges to the road. Elderly who had little strength were slowly positioning the smaller rocks and placing them in the soft clay before the young adults – men and women – were banging them into place with other rocks and sticks. There was no sexual discrimination here. Even with the little equipment they had -- some shovels, pickaxes and a couple sledgehammers -- everyone was participating and doing what they could. It was an amazing sight. I love it when a community can come together.
Actually got me thinking about how great it was for so many Cheshire residents to come together around the turf. Now don’t get me wrong. I wouldn’t have supported it last week. But different from other Council members, I wouldn’t have supported the linear trail either. We just need to stop the spending. Take a breather. Distinguish between maintaining and expanding services. And encourage community service, while simultaneously not placing further burdens on future taxpayers. But I digress...
Throughout the climb I was simply stunned at the work that was being done, but also couldn’t believe how steep some parts of this road were. There were definitely grades better than 45 degrees, yet Geral assured me that the SUVs would be able to get up here.
Ok. I’ll take your word.
Perhaps most telling to me though about work ethic was how many people were barefoot, while other wealthier individuals had nothing more than dilapidated plastic flops. Much of the red clay where they worked was soft. But when you can look at the face of a 20 year old and see the feet of a 50 year old, you know this isn’t an easy life. Plying these walking paths barefoot for twenty years takes its toll.
We had gotten to end of the ongoing road construction / extension. So now we had literally gotten to the proverbial end of the road, though the foot path continued higher into the mountains. There were still more villages toward the skies. And Buzz Lightyear’s human reincarnate, Geral, wanted to keep going.
To infinity… and beyond!
And with that, I think I’m gonna call it quits for the night. This is already getting a bit long and I’ve got some other stuff to do before catching my flight back stateside!
Monday, December 20, 2010
Didn’t sleep well last night. Probably didn’t fall asleep til at least 1am and was wide awake by 6am. So the day didn’t start off too well, but I was still excited about the possibility of doing some hands on, outreach today.
It’s 7:30am and I’m running out the door to work.
Cell phone? Check.
Asthma inhaler? Check.
K. Good to go… running out the door.
Oh, wait… forgot my ORS (Oral Rehydration Salts), water bottle and pregnancy pills, Azithromycin!
Cholera symptoms can begin within two hours. And death can occur within four hours from the onset of symptoms. If I’m going into the countryside, there’s no way I’m going without my meds, including my pills for pregnant women. Apparently they also have some side effects that mitigate the impact of cholera. So I’m game… I have no problem poppin’ a few pills, if it’s gonna save my life!
Out the door, up the hill, arrive at work around 7:30am and… no one’s here?! Haha… actually worked out fine. It’s essentially a three week Christmas break for most staff. So aside from a few staff who arrived shortly, most people are already on holiday.
And the late arrival was also welcome. I got to work until about 10am and got thru a bunch of stuff that I needed to do. With only two days left before I leave, I’ve got to jam on a number of things and a few hours today was very helpful.
Jump in the SUV – I was riding shotgun as I was a special guest today – and off we went to Dayere.
As we were leaving town we passed the bus station where some people got necklaced a few weeks ago. At least the charred bodies appear to have been removed... Cross the bridge and head into the jungle, before beginning our ascent into the mountains.
As we’re climbing, much of the forest disappears. The slopes have been largely denuded. There are a good number of palms around, but with their 50 foot branchless trunks they don’t give much cover. And there are some hills covered in low lying veggies, such as beans. But much of the area seems to be just grass. I’m not sure why, but a lack of water supply seems like a pretty good guess as to why the hills lie uncultivated.
Having driven for perhaps two hours thru the switchbacks and slopes that may have been more than 45 degrees at points, we cross some ridges. What a sight. Reminded me of my drive from Macedonia into Albania and down to Tirane. Absolutely gorgeous… and not much to stop you from tumbling down hundreds of feet to certain death – if you go a few feet too far to the side. With the narrow crossways flattened and reinforced at the edges, one can view mountains as far as the eye can see… except of course where the mountains stop and the placid, royal blue Caribbean begins.
We pass a village now and school is obviously getting out. It’s lunchtime and the 4 to 7 year old kids, dressed in their pastel pink, button down shirts and navy blue shorts are headed home… but not without a quick chase of the car! As we’re passing, dozens of the school kids start chasing after us.
With the treacherous road – if you can call it a road – composed of rocks six to eight inches in diameter and ruts that are often nearly a foot of mud before you see the puddle that goes down… who knows how far?... it’s not uncommon for us to be traveling at one to two miles per hour. So it’s not too tough for a four year old to catch up with us. That is, until the driver stopped, jumped out and yelled at them to scare them away… haha… I’m guessing he was concerned for their safety. But they're kids. They don’t care! So they back away until we start moving again, and the chase resumes. I’m not entirely sure why the kids were chasing us. It may have been simply “le machine.” A motor vehicle is pretty rare in these parts, so maybe that was it. Or maybe it was me.
“Blanc, blanc” they cheer out. “White, white.” They know my name! Haha… no, it’s really just what they call a foreigner – or more specifically, a whitie – around here. (The N and C in “blanc” are largely silent. It's sounds more like "blah" with a very muffled "n" at the end.)
The kids are still chasing, but we make a pitstop. No, we haven’t found a “highway rest area.” But it’s only guys – about ten of us – in the SUV. So the forest is fine.
As we’re getting back into the truck, a little girl grabs my arm with both hands. I yank it away; at once thinking cholera; yet also wanting to be kind to a little girl who’s probably never seen a blanc and was simply curious. Regardless, I’m not going to let anyone touch me at the risk of getting cholera… which is rife in these villages. But I do speak my pigeon French-Creole and offer her some kinds words. I think she was fine… and frankly, I think just about anywhere in the world it’s inappropriate to simply grab people… so even though she may have been taken aback, I'm confident that her parents wouldn’t approve of grabbing as she did.
In the car and off we go. After about a three hour drive, we arrive in Dayere. We had literally come to the end of the road… part of the reason why I was here. It’s a major road construction – extension, really – project. But I’m tired now, so I’m done blogging for the night. I’ll probably post more tomorrow about my trip today. It really was fantastic… it was a great gift for my 38th birthday.
Sunday, December 19, 2010
Perhaps Cheshire's blogosphere is blossoming? Here's another local blog:
I suspect this will be a very conservative blog that will cover Cheshire politics to some degree. Good luck CTC! It takes time, but you can have an impact... particularly on the local stuff.
Congressman Ron Paul wants to End the Fed. That's no secret. It's the title of one of his books. But making big things happen typically requires a transition.
Last year Congressman Paul introduced legislation in favor of competing currencies. Here's an excerpt from a recent CNBC interview on the topic:
Paul said he views the Fed as a "monopoly" that could benefit from the introduction of competition.
"We should start ending the Fed by allowing competition," he said. "I don't like the fact that they have monopoly control. It's a cartel: they print the money. The Constitution really doesn't give them that authority. The Constitution said that only gold and silver can be legal tender. I want to legalize competition and allow individual Americans to use gold and silver in competition, as money. Today if you do that, you can go to jail.
Competing currencies is an imperfect solution to me, but any sound currency would be an improvement over the current fiat-based monopoly. Despite the claims of Bush, Obama, Greenspan & Bernanke, the fact is that Keynes was wrong. Money doesn't grow on trees. And now we need to figure out the best way to transition away from our current monetary policy... and hope we avoid the complete collapse of the dollar.
Saturday, December 18, 2010
The past two weeks for me have been crazy... running around like a chicken with my head cut off! But it's been worthwhile. With the onset of cholera in the Grand'Anse region, things are moving fast... and they must. People are dying and the cholera isn't slowing down for the holidays.
As such, I've been involved in a bunch of fast-moving, fluid grant proposals for a variety of issues near Jeremie. Cholera treatment is obviously the biggest issue, but it invariably leads to a number of related issues.
With local necklacings being blamed on cholera-related voodoo, education is obviously important. And there are other health issues -- disposal of bodies -- that must be addressed.
The last two weeks have not only been long, they've been draining. To hear the heartbreaking stories of death... and the wonderful success stories of continued life... it's something I never thought I'd experience as a CPA. But I do love it, despite the highs and lows that can take a toll.
Anyway, with the holidays here, things are slowing down on the funding side and picking up on the humanitarian / outreach side. With the cholera outbreak hitting the Jeremie area a few weeks ago, I expect that funding should be arriving now. So greater outreach efforts will be possible.
With that in mind, I'm expecting to get out there myself next week. I had the opportunity for some hands-on work back in August... and this will be my first time since then to get involved in more of the hands-on work that convinced me to come here. I realize I'm here for my professional skills, but it was the ability to be directly involved in humanitarian work that got me here.
Tuesday, December 14, 2010
For three years I've been the lone vote on the Council opposing the TMs contract on the basis of poor performance.* But tonight I understand the vote on the TMs contract extension passed 5 - 2. Jimmy and Anne were opposed and Steve Carroll and Patti Flynn Harris abstained.
I applaud Jimmy and Anne. I'm uncertain of their reasons, but I'm guessing that it was partly for the reasons I mentioned yesterday. In particular, it's nice to see elected officials who demand an end to the waste and mismanagement of the DPW. And as for hearing about how "hard-working" staff can be... I recall Council Chairman Slocum's recent Herald LTTE.
Just because one "works hard" doesn't mean one is effective. Someone could "work" 16 hour days. But if someone else can do the same workload in eight hours, then the 16 hour person may need to be replaced. So with regard to the whole "he works hard" argument, I dismiss it. Besides, most of the "hard work" is spent cultivating the nonsense message that he and his office are apolitical... and also simply controlling the information, reminding staff that they are not allowed to speak openly and that all information must be vetted through The Boss -- or else.
Again, I thank Jimmy Sima and Anne Giddings for their votes tonight in opposition to the Town's highly political and unnecessarily costly mismanagement.
I also understand that some sort of turf vote passed 5 - 4 with Anne Giddings, Tom Ruocco, David Schrumm and Jimmy Sima being opposed. I agree with my fellow Rs. The long-term liabilities facing the USA, the State of Connecticut and the Town of Cheshire are enormous. Cheshire has spiraling healthcare costs, an underfunded pension plan, a $30 million sewer plant coming toward us... along with about $60 million in existing debt and an annual operating budget of $100 million.
I believe we should be avoiding the addition of significant, long-term liabilities, such as the turf. And with the Washington Establishment still believing the ridiculous Keynesian economic theory that money grows on trees, I don't see America's economy improving for years. Unemployment will remain high and no elected official is going to want to see the turf replacement when it arrives in the 5-yr capital budget in only three years.
* Two years ago, the vote was 5 - 4. But I only recall my colleagues opposing the raise... not the performance.
Monday, December 13, 2010
It'll probably be an interesting Council meeting tomorrow night.
First thing will likely be the appointments of Steve Carroll and Patti Flynn Harris to fill the vacancies of Justin Adinolfi and yours truly.
Then you'll see the turf vote. I'm uncertain of what way it'll go, but this was my whip count back in June: 4 favor, 3 oppose, 2 unknown. I had Justin listed in favor and myself opposed with David Schrumm and Anne Giddings opinions unknown.
And last, but certainly not least, the annual vote on extending the TMs contract. I don't know how this vote will go. But seven years ago I asked the TM to "make the trains run on time." Unfortunately, he's done far more than that. And since his last contract extension, he's:
1) Meddled in union affairs to influence the outcome of last year's election.
2) Ignored the crisis at the PD, in order to spend time in Hartford advocating for John Destefano's regional sales tax.
3) Accepted the waste and mismanagement at the DPW.
Judgment matters. He could do a good job making the trains run on time. But for him, that's not enough. He insists on playing politics and accepting poor quality work -- at the expense of the taxpayer -- while covering up for his cronies.
A TM should be a professional, not a politician. We can do better.
And on a related note... in case you hadn't noticed... we've had one TM since 2000. And if you go back to 1999, with one exception, the voters have switched Councils every two years. Anyone see a pattern there? Unfortunately for the taxpayers, they don't have the opportunity to vote on the Chief Executive.
Taken from Politico's headlines:
White House launches charm offensive with new Republican chairs
GOP chairmen are getting congratulatory phone calls from President Barack Obama and private meetings with Vice President Joe Biden, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner and Attorney General Eric Holder. The incoming Agriculture Committee chairman, Frank Lucas (R-Okla.), is setting up a regular monthly lunch with Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. The White House's efforts moved into high gear shortly after the Republican victory on Election Day.
If you read the full article, it appears that every committee chair is getting some mono-on-mono time with the administrators who they will oversee. Politico even mentions that Ben Bernanke sat down the Chair the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, Darrell Issa.
I wonder if Ben Bernanke has yet placed his congratulatory phone call to Monetary Policy Chairman Ron Paul?
I love it!
But in all seriousness, regardless of Congressman Paul's philosophical views on monetary policy, his chairmanship will be founded on two important principles that have been missing in that committee for a long time:
1) He will demand what all reasonable and rational people -- this excludes The Fedsters -- expect: transparency.
2) He will use the bully pulpit to push a national discussion on monetary policy, including:
a) Fiat money vs. sound money?
b) Fractional-reserve banking vs. full-reserve banking?
c) Keynesian economics vs. Austrian school economics?
d) Should America have a central bank?
The Establishmentarians like to dismiss this discussion by explaining there is an "international consensus" on all of these issues. But therein lies the problem. The consensus -- that money grows on trees -- has been decreed by The Political Class. And therefore this is no consensus among regular people. And my view is that most regular people know that money doesn't grow on trees.
Go Chairman Paul!
From CNN reporting on Sarah Palin's weekend visit to Haiti:
"Not to get political, but if some of the politicians would come here and see the conditions perhaps they would see the need for, say, a military airlift to bring the supplies that are so needed here," she said...
The article continued:
Palin said she would not take questions from reporters. "The reason I won't be answering questions is because we don't need to be getting political here today," Palin said.
Sunday, December 12, 2010
I love the weekends. I take a shower later in the day... after the sun has heated the rooftop water.
I don't have hot water here -- other than stove-boiled water -- and the two minutes or so of warm water in the shower is so nice.
And speaking of my rooftop water, it reminds me about my dad voicing his concern for me as a hurricane approached Haiti's "southern claw" last month. He asked me to make sure I had plenty of drinking water available. Being my dad, I did ask someone about his concern.
The response I got?
"Put some buckets on the roof."
Ahhh... sustainable living. I love it!
Btw, I haven't seen Sarah this weekend. I can't imagine she'd come to Jeremie.
And speaking of Mrs. Palin, I appreciate her helping to increase public awareness of some of the problems here. But I certainly hope she doesn't suggest that a weekend stopover in Haiti has any relevance to the "foreign policy credentials" of a candidate for POTUS. Frankly, I don't think foreign policy experience is that important for Sarah Palin anyway. None of our three most recent Presidents had any such experience when they took office. And besides, we have plenty of domestic issues to be addressed.
Thursday, December 09, 2010
The Herald's reporting that AT&T U-Verse customers are going to be getting the local public access channels by February. It's taking longer than it should have. But it certainly wouldn't be happening this quickly, if not for the "encouragement" of the Council.
There are some possible drawbacks to this though. For years, Cox was a monopoly in Cheshire. Likely due to that monopoly, they provided various groups -- most notably the two major political parties -- access to their TV studios. I suspect access to their studio may be restricted to some extent as they lose their monopoly status... and probably get more freedom from CTs regulators. But IMO this is NBD.
With new media it's probably easier to shoot high quality video in a living room or at a park, rather than scheduling studio time and having to learn the use of the expensive equipment. So the benefits clearly outweigh the drawbacks.
Labels: good government
Wednesday, December 08, 2010
I went back to work after lunch today and chatted with a coworker. He said downtown was interesting today. The roads that form the town square were largely blocked by burning tires.
I asked if it was a dangerous situation. He said it was NBD. It was more just a nuisance to have to slow down and navigate the flaming hazards like an obstacle course.
Personally, I'm not so sure that it's NBD. Volatile situations can explode at anytime. And it was only two weeks ago that Jeremie had a public necklacing.
And now that the sun has set, I hear the chanting starting again. And though the gunshots were limited this afternoon. I've heard a few nearby in just the past couple minutes.
For all the above reasons, I applaud all of Cheshire. Next week two people -- Steve Carroll and Patti Flynn Harris -- will take office. And I'm quite certain that there will be no tire burnings, no gunfire, no necklacings, no burned out government offices, no road blockades, no airport closings... because we've got that wonderful little phrase we tend to live by... peaceful transition of power. It really is something special.
As for when things may calm down? I don't know. But I know that there was an expectation that two candidates from the non-incumbent party were expected to proceed to the Jan 16 runoff. But yesterday's announcement indicated that one of the two candidates -- the one with a demographic comprised largely of young supporters -- would not be in the runoff. Instead, the candidate from the incumbent party would proceed. Which of course, leaves the 18-30 yr old demographic upset. So much of the immediate future of Haiti rests in the words of "Sweet Mickey." What he says matters.
Now... let's see if I can study tonight...
P.S. Since I arrived here, a lot of email has failed to get delivered to me... including stuff I send to myself! So if you email me and I don't reply, it may be due to malfunctioning email. My FB emails seem to be working though. So feel free to friend me / email me there.
At this moment, I have not yet heard of any deaths in Jeremie related to the political violence sweeping the country. Though people seem to have been killed in most of the other towns.
I did hear the gunfire for several hours last night. This morning a local friend insisted on walking me to work. Everything -- banks, schools, gov't offices, airports -- is closed. But the bottom line to me is that there no deaths of which I'm aware in Jeremie, thankfully.
It is interesting though. Just before lunch, I saw the "manifestation" pass by my office. There was no gunfire. Rather, it was something like an impromptu parade... with people cheering, playing horns, carrying signs... but I was told that the cheers -- in Creole -- included calls for the President's execution and the removal of UN forces from Haiti. Yikes.
Precursor to a revolution? Not that far-fetched IMO. People are angry.
Jeremie is a relatively quiet town, but the situation is extremely volatile.
Tuesday, December 07, 2010
They do their elections Louisiana-style here. There's a whole slew of Presidential candidates -- 18 or 19 in this case -- and if no one gets 50%, then there's a runoff between the two candidates who received the most votes. A runoff is tentatively scheduled for January 16.
The preliminary results of last week's election are due today.
I haven't seen any results online, but I was reading about violence in Port-au-Prince. And now I'm fairly certain that I'm hearing chanting and gunshots outside my house in every direction. Great.
One nice thing though... the place I sleep has 7-inch thick concrete walls. Just gotta remember to keep away from the windows. As I sit here writing this, I keep looking directly ahead of myself... trying to determine if the top of my skull is higher than the bottom of the window.
I'm slouching now. Bad posture? Yes. But laying down six-feet-under is a less attractive option.
I have no interest in living through -- or dying in -- a bloody coup d'etat. My proximity to one in Cambodia was plenty for me.
I seriously hope this is a peaceful transition of power. George Washington set such a wonderful precedent in America.
Sunday, December 05, 2010
I was working late on Friday. Someone asked me if I'd be going home soon. The thought hadn't even crossed my mind. I was working on something.
It was an urgent grant request for outreach related to both cholera awareness and treatment. The grant request was going to be delivered on Friday night. I needed to get my part done. The weekend certainly wasn't on my mind.
The cases of cholera are increasing rapidly in Grande d'Anse Department* now. People are dying from an entirely avoidable disease.
Now it's Sunday and I'm uncertain of the status of the grant request. But I know one thing... having lived through malaria, lived down the road from a necklacing and lived with the knowledge of another impending earthquake... I had been wondering if this was for me.
I'm no longer wondering.
The opportunity to have a real impact reminded me why I'm here. As a CPA, I don't remember ever feeling as though I was having an impact. I do feel though that -- in a small way -- I am having a real impact for the first time as a CPA. And that's far more important to me than money or an American standard of living.
* Grande d'Anse Department is the state of which Jeremie is the capitol.
Friday, December 03, 2010
Only one week has passed and it appears that the international media -- in this case, the NY Daily News -- have finally caught up with TWL:
Up to 12 people accused of using "black magic" to infect others have been murdered as a result of the week-long witch hunt, with new cases being reported daily.
Local officials reported that six suspected witches in the town of Chambellan were stoned or hacked to death, a fate that an additional three people met in the city of Jeremie...
"Their corpses were burned in the streets."
Lesson for the day?
If journalists don't have sources, they won't get the story. Good journalists take the time to know lots of people... and are not only continually meeting new people, but also catching up with old friends.
And if you've ever wondered why a particular story isn't being reported... call a reporter and let him / her know. Who knows where that call could lead?
The MRJs Jesse Buchanan reports:
The Republican Town Committee nominated former town councilor and party chairman Ste-phen Carroll Thursday to replace town councilor Tim White who resigned in October.
I fully expect the Council to agree with the RTCs recommendation. So I congratulate Steve and wish him well! I know that next year's operating budget won't be pretty.
Now with regard to November 2011, I presume Steve has agreed to run. So you may be wondering about his chances?
He's a parishioner at St. Thomas Beckett and has lived in the south end for more than thirty years. So he's quite well known.
Furthermore, I haven't looked at the election results recently but Steve has run at-large several times. And though he's both won and lost, I'm pretty sure that each time he's run his best showing was at Norton School... which constitutes 80% of the 4th district. So if Steve works -- and I fully expect him to work -- I think he can keep the seat in the GOP column.
No word yet on Justin Adinolfi's replacement. Personally though, I'd prefer to see Patti Flynn Harris rather than Matt Altieri. I could never understand why it seemed like my former colleague wanted to be pals with the TM. And though I often disagreed with him on policy, I respected Matt in the sense that I know he'd work.
Some members offer very little to the Council. But I never felt that way about former Councilman Altieri. In his own way, he tried to have an impact. Regardless, I'd like to see Patti get a chance on the Council. My guess is that she'd be more interested in representing the voters to Town Hall, rather than representing Town Hall to the voters.
Thursday, December 02, 2010
In October, Rep. Vickie Nardello explained the funding of Mary Fritz' beloved slush funds to me:
The contingency funds account existed in the years 06-09. In those four years 26 million dollars was spent. It was funded from surplus dollars in the annual budget. The expenditure of the money was determined by the Governor, Speaker of the House, and Senate President.
She continued by noting that Fritz' slush funds no longer exist:
There is no longer any money in the account and it did not receive funding in FY 10 or 11.
And she concluded by assuring me that:
I would not support funding this account in the future.
Well Rep. Nardello, the future is here.
According to CT Capitol Report, here are just a few of the places where the current slush fund will be directed on December 10 when The Rubber Stamp Bonding Commission members earns their salary by
robbing the taxpayers blind spending money we don't have:
CPTV to get $1 million check from state..
Williams gets $3.75 million for Putnam YMCA...
$275,000 for fence in Hartford...
$950,000 for New Haven...
$500,000 for ski resort...
$350,000 for Hartford Regional Farmer's market...
$100,000 for Norwich museum; 'beautiful Romanesque Revival home'...
$700,000 for Montville police station...
If I were in CT, rest assured I'd be at that Bonding Commission meeting and personally questioning Governor Rell about the benefit to society for all these projects. I mean, how ridiculous is this? No, no, I'm sure this has "nothing" to do with a few last minute favors being paid back on the way out the door. Right?
But in fairness to The Loved One, Williams and Donovan are complicit in this scheme to cheat the taxpayers.
Donovan, Rell and Williams are obnoxious. Their blatant disrespect for the taxpayers, as they thumb their noses at us, is despicable. They know the budget is in horrendous shape, yet they continue trying to buy votes and popularity.
Have they no shame?
And considering that Rep. Nardello said she wouldn't support these funds, I wonder if she'll be attending the December 10 Bonding Commission meeting to fight this pilfering of the treasury? Ha. She's a player, just like Fritz and Gaffey. They all need to go.
Tuesday, November 30, 2010
State Rep. Gary Holder Winfield plans to introduce legislation to
repeal the death penalty. And Guv-elect Malloy has said he'll only sign DP repeal legislation that allows for the execution of the Cheshire murderers.
But here's the thing, as soon as that legislation gets introduced... it's going to be used by all the death row inmates as cause to repeal their death sentences.
So maybe Rep. Vickie Nardello won't feel compelled this term to reintroduce her own legislation to repeal the death penalty? Maybe she'll just lobby behind-the-scenes hoping that Bethany, Cheshire and Prospect forget about her real goal to repeal the death penalty retroactively?
Monday, November 29, 2010
The MRJs Jesse Buchanan reports:
The town will soon release a request for energy-saving proposals as part of a performance-based contract, something the Energy Commission and former Town Councilor Tim White have pushed for years.
I thank the Council for seriously considering this as an option for engaging in a town wide infrastructure improvement and energy conservation plan.
Further into the article, Jesse had a line that suggests if you knock loud enough and long enough... they'll eventually consider what you're saying...
“Maybe people just got tired of Tim yacking about it and just did the thing,” Ogurick said. “We’ve been advocating for it for seven to eight years.”
Haha... I got a chuckle out of that line. Thanks Rich! But seriously...
Engaging in a town wide plan makes good financial sense. But besides conserving energy and saving money... if the initially planned four buildings is expanded to cover more of the towns 24 primary buildings (about 1,000,000 sq ft; 800k schools & 200k town), then this could eventually be a textbook case study in reducing the overall size and scope of government with a commensurate reduction in headcount... which would have a positive impact on our defined benefit pension plan.*
So this could have a lot of positives from the perspective of the taxpayer.
* By "positive impact," I mean it may initially add beneficiaries to the plan. But ultimately, the first thing we need to do is get all eligible employees to close their plans. Then we can measure the liability. Then we can start paying it and reducing the liability.
Sunday, November 28, 2010
For the first time in 20 years, I was near an election and I didn't vote. It was a good day though. I had heard there were going to be riots today. But it wasn't until around 4pm that someone stopped by and told me about them. So at least there was nothing in my neighborhood. And there were a few pop-pops -- maybe next door -- but I'm guessing they were fireworks and not guns. Besides, all gun licenses were revoked for the day. So I'm sure no one would use one.
Anyway, I'm still on the mend. But intend to go to work for a full-day tomorrow... first time in more than a week. And I've begun my weekly chloroquine cycle. That should at least mitigate the effects of another battle with malaria. Hopefully I won't have to reprise my pick-me-up theme song from last week:
Kodachrome, it gives us those nice bright colors
Gives us the greens of summers
Makes you think all the world's a sunny day, oh yeah!
Love that song! Even when I pretty much feel I'd be better off dead... I just can't stay in a bad mood for very when I sing that verse.
As for the election results, all my news has been online... other than one conversation this afternoon. But after a month, my creole is still far-from-perfect. So I'll take a pass on that for now.
Thanks for all the support this past week. I really do appreciate it.
Saturday, November 27, 2010
Upon learning the wonderful news about my option to choose a disease (malaria or cholera!?), I learned I wouldn’t be walking back to bed. Not that it’s too far. In good health it’s just about a five minute walk, all downhill… akin to the walk from the top of Avon to North Brooksvale. Regardless, I was getting a ride!
The nice thing was that one of the few other Americans here – a recent NYU grad and native of The State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations, Jack * – was driving. So I’d get another minute or two of easy conversation. That would be great because in my condition I wasn’t really up for the often laborious exercise of:
1) someone speaking to me in creole;
2) me translating to English;
3) me realizing I don’t understand one particular word;
4) me asking “’Q’est-ce que c’est?”;
5) me listening to an explanation… all in creole… expecting there would be another word that I wouldn’t understand; then
6) repeat the process.
I enjoy learning languages. But I have to be in the right mindset and in the right health. But I didn’t have to do any of that. Fantastic.
I get in the Land Cruiser.
Jack starts chatting. I knew he’d been here only three months and already had malaria twice. And while I don’t think either bout was as severe as mine – they usually aren’t – he can relate. He had already told me about his surreal night sweating under a blanket in the balmy summer night, contemplating the fact that he also had his fan blasting and pointed directly at him.
Anyway, Jack asks me “Did you hear what happened at the bus station yesterday?”
I said no. But I know the bus station. It’s maybe a mile from where I live. He had my interest.
He goes onto explain.
I looked at him and said “so you mean a couple guys got necklaced?”
I taught him a new word. And if you don’t know the word, here’s Wikipedia’s definition:
Necklacing is the practice of summary execution carried out by forcing a rubber tire, filled with petrol, around a victim's chest and arms, and setting it on fire. The victim may take up to 20 minutes to die, suffering severe burns in the process.
And if you’re wondering why someone may get necklaced, I understand that this particular situation was that a few guys were accused of voodoo witchcraft and conspiring to kill “many children” with a cholera spell. The evidence of this crime was obvious and overwhelming.
1) The men were found with a bottle with a liquid in it. The liquid was believed to be a voodoo potion.
2) The men were “known for those sorts of things.”
3) The men had relatives who had died, probably due to voodoo spells.
So there you have it.
It happened a mile from where I sleep.
As I spoke with my mom yesterday, I could read her mind.
“Cholera, malaria, riots, the likelihood of another earthquake and NOW... necklaces.
Why. Are. You. There?”
* (Jack is a volunteer here, acting as a jack-of-all-trades. He helps with everything from helping organize World AIDS Day events to GPSing assets to some photojournalism. He actually saw one of the corpses -- still at the bus station -- after we talked. It was at least a full day after it happened. I asked him if he stopped for any photos, but he said he was essentially in shock... and also concerned about his own personal safety... for obvious reasons, I think.)
Friday, November 26, 2010
Although I didn’t fall asleep until around 3am last night, I did somehow feel fairly good when I awoke this morning around 6am. So I knew it was time to leave the clinic. No more livin’ the highlife with CNN and SyFy’s James Bond Thanksgiving Marathon. It was back to my own bed. Ugh. I was extremely grateful though for at least spending Turkey Day at the clinic. With CNN, I did not feel quite so lost and alone… especially when the few other Americans and native-English speakers I know were headed to a Thanksgiving dinner.
By 7am I had eaten a few scrambled eggs for breakfast – the first substantial meal I’d had in several days… unless you count my bowl of Berry Special K and a slice of bologna for Thanksgiving dinner “a meal.”
Finally ambled downstairs to speak with the Doc. My doc is great. He’s very personable and is extremely knowledgable. He gave me the skinny on why my malaria was worse than a typical case.
Warning: I'm more graphic than usual in this post. If you have a weak stomach, you may not want to continue reading.
He said I have more stomach acid than most people and that it triggered one of the side effects of Chloroquine: vomiting. Compounding that with the fact that I was quickly dehydrating, I now understood why my case of malaria seemed so much worse than how others had described it to me.
But my doctor said not to be too concerned. He explained that Zantac would fix my problem with Chloroquine… just reduce the stomach acid and those nasty side effects would be mitigated.
Then he continued.
There is a downside to Zantac and reduced stomach acid. When cholera enters your system, it heads straight to your stomach. And we do have a natural defense against cholera. It’s called... stomach acid!
So I’m offered a choice:
I get to decide if I’d prefer to be more susceptible to either malaria or cholera!
I’m sure you can tell just how excited I am about this decision. I feel so honored.
Thursday, November 25, 2010
I'm thankful for the wonderful people who've helped me the past few days. I'm not 100% yet, but I'm doing much better. Much of the past few days I thought I might be better off dead. Obviously that's not true, but it was pretty horrible. And yes, it was malaria. Now I know that I'm supposed to start a cycle of chloroquine immediately at the onset of symptoms... not wait two days. Stupid me. Thankfully, I can still say... live and learn!
On a more interesting note... I noticed a report that Governor-elect Malloy is considering naming someone from Bristol to head Veterans' Affairs. Wouldn't it make Cheshire politics interesting if he instead chose a veteran named Al Adinolfi? Special election in the 103rd!
Again though, thank you to the people who nursed me back to health... and to all my well-wishers. It means a lot to me sitting in Jeremie. Now that I've been here a month, I have a much better understanding of the phrase "hardship posting." Saigon was much easier than this.
Sunday, November 21, 2010
Last night I had a raging fever. I spent most of today in bed. I'm generally weak and ache all over. I was told these are the symptoms of malaria. Great.
I'll go to the clinic tomorrow and find out what it is. Until then, I'm ok. Whatever it is feels like an intense flu. So it's just sleep and drink lots of water today.
Assuming I'll be ok, the bummer for me is falling behind in my chem class again. But that coulda happened just as easily in Cheshire.
Friday, November 19, 2010
Great... cholera officially arrived in Jeremie, Haiti today. I read CNN an hour or so ago and they weren't even reporting it yet, but it is here. Five cases so far. And we do have city power tonight. So I'm wondering if the road has been reopened to container trucks? Not sure. Regardless, I'll be washing my hands constantly now whenever I have soap and water available.
Speaking of soap and water -- and not necessarily running water -- I was just considering the fact that the "running" water I use is all gravity-based. And if I run out of electricity... at some point it'll be impossible to flip a switch and pump water to the roof. That means the water will need to be hauled from the rainwater-collecting-cistern to the 400 gallon drum on the roof. Ugh.
It's kinda funny to me because when I contemplated accepting this position, I recalled plenty of bucket-of-water, over-the-shoulder showers I had taken in the past. But that was typically while backpacking in some remote part of the world that can't afford running water. Being here, it's a little different as I go to work everyday. Regardless, I'll be fine. Running water is a luxury here. So as nice as it is, I remind myself that many here do without it. And I'll be just fine.
As for the riots, CNN reported an attack on a bus filled with foreign missionaries. But that happened in the same place the riots started: Cap Haitien. And the riots haven't spread to Jeremie. So I'm not too concerned about that. And with the elections less than a week away, I'm hoping the overt -- and currently suppressed -- volatility here subsides soon. I've been in some highly volatile areas and situations in the past. Whether it's traveling through Khmer Rouge territory and being stopped by a Cambodian whose face was covered with the memory-emblazoned red bandana or having my taxi driver drag me away from the Golan Heights as the Israeli soldiers started brandishing their rifles and the Lebanese responded by throwing softball-sized rocks over the 15-ft high chainlink fence... I've had more than one adrenaline rush before. But sitting here in Jeremie, I'm quite happy to enjoy the stars and moon with a warm Caribbean breeze wafting over me. I don't need any riots this weekend. I have chemistry homework to do!
Thursday, November 18, 2010
I think Jeremie has largely run out of fuel at this point. The sole propane distributor sold out by last weekend. And the city power company -- whose generator runs on gasoline -- seems to have shut down electricity for the city tonight. So not sure how much longer I'll actually be able to blog. But I've heard reports that there's serious work happening to reopen the road to Aux Cayes. If open, proper fuel trucks could pass the canyons.
On the other hand, while that would be great for getting fuel and all sorts of other neat stuff -- like functioning automobiles and lights -- it is a double-edged sword. As of this afternoon, Jeremie was still officially without cholera. And while I'm certain that'll change soon... the longer it takes, the better.
But I'm still blogging tonight, so...
The NHRs Luther Turmelle reported on the Justin Adinolfi vacancy. The two names mentioned were Matt Altieri and Patti Flynn Harris. Of those two, my guess would be PFH getting the appointment for a variety of reasons. But the more interesting thing to me is who is not mentioned: Elizabeth Esty.
As I mentioned before, if she doesn't get appointed to the Council... then I bet she's seriously leaning toward a run for the CT-5. On the other hand, she's been a big supporter of Governor-elect Malloy. So who knows... maybe she'll get offered a job in his administration? I believe her professional background has been at the intersection of law and the environment, including work for the Natural Resources Defense Council at some point. And if you haven't heard of the NRDC, they're one of the ten biggest environmental NGOs in the country. The Nature Conservancy is the biggest, followed by NRDC, the Environmental Defense Fund, the Audubon Society et al.
So maybe the DEP? I'm not sure. But whether there will be any high-level openings at the DEP, is only a guessing game. And while I'm guessing most political appointees will soon be gone, I think the environmental community tends to like Jodi's appointee at the DEP (can't recall her name). So that may be one person who Gov. Malloy will keep??
It'll be interesting to see which legislators make the move between branches.
Tuesday, November 16, 2010
First Peter Massey, then me and now Justin Adinolfi resigned. The online MRJ article doesn't give any details. Can anyone provide them? And has the Council decided on a new 4th District Council member?
As for me, I've got some juice left in my laptop battery. So I logged on for a minute, but am about to logoff. Neither I nor anyone else in Jeremie has city power tonight. I kinda like it. The night sky is simply beautiful and relaxing.
Be it the earthquake, cholera, hurricane or riots, I've been confident that I could make things work. But with my goal of taking online classes, I may soon have an insurmountable hurdle in my way as a result of several problems arising contemporaneously. I had been thinking about mentioning this stuff, but hadn't gotten to it... hoping they'd be resolved before now.
First, the container boat that normally plies the PAP to Jeremie route pooped out. It literally isn't carrying goods back and forth.
Second, the Aux Cayes to Jeremie highway partly collapsed in the hurricane. By that, I mean the highway is filled with switchbacks and hairpin turns as the road traverses the mountains. And as would happen in the US, rocks fall and inadequately built roads collapse in treacherous weather. So the hurricane resulted in a partial collapse of the highway, such that buses and container trucks can no longer use it. At best, I small pickup truck can now drive the Aux Cayes to Jeremie highway... and Aux Cayes is a midway point from the international ports of Port au Prince and Cap Haitien.
With the loss of container travel on the seaways and roadways, I understand that Jeremie is running out of fuel. And I'm already seeing the consequences.
This morning, I needed to refuel a propane tank for the stove. By lunchtime I learned that Jeremie is out of propane. So it's back to charcoal for cooking. I doubt the trees are all too happy 'bout that.
Trucks and motorbikes may soon run out of fuel. And the city power company runs a generator on gasoline or diesel. So even electricity may end soon.
Photovoltaics, or electric solar panels, are here. So emergency services will have some sort of electricity for refrigeration -- if the sun is shining. But if neither the road nor the boat are repaired soon... there could be big problems here. Then tack on a cholera outbreak and medical facilities with insufficient power...
Don't even wanna think about it.
I'll try to keep you posted... but computers and the web may soon be an unaffordable luxury.
Monday, November 15, 2010
As I mentioned yesterday, I am getting situated. Still trying to figure out the schedule for city power though. It would make my life -- basically my studies -- a lot easier if I knew the schedule. My backup plan, such as my laptop battery, only lasts so long. I'll try to figure that out at some point, but in the meantime... it is what it is. But my years of scouting are helpful in such situations. One must be prepared.
Now on an entirely different topic...
At work today there was some discussion regarding protests in a different town in Haiti: Cap Haitien. I was wondering what was happening. Perhaps some civil unrest as the November 28 Presidential election approaches?
By the time I got out of work, I found out. CNN is reporting that there's some serious civil unrest related to the cholera outbreak:
In Cap Haitien, schools and banks were closed, residents set fire to tires at entrances to the town and gunfire ricocheted through the streets, residents and officials told CNN.
Thankfully, Cap Haitien is nowhere near Jeremie. But... who knows where these things lead. And if you read the report, you'll probably agree that it doesn't look good for certain people.
And on one last entirely different topic... I'm really liking some of the local fare. The breadfruit is good and seems to be a staple. I'd never heard of it before I got here, but they cook it a million different ways. And some of it is really tasty. They make a great alternative to sunday morning, diner-style hash browns.
As for photos, my camera is malfunctioning. I'm hoping to get one when I visit CT at Christmas. Until then, I won't be able to provide many photos.
Sunday, November 14, 2010
I've been here for three weeks and I finally starting to feel as though I'm getting situated.
The big thing hanging over my head the past few weeks has been my Chem 101 class. And I finally caught up tonight. I'm back on track with the rest of my class. My professor was gracious enough to take my situation into account* and give me some leeway on some of the deadlines. But I just finished my Week 3 exam and I'm back on track.
Of course, this science stuff has always been interesting -- though never particularly easy -- for me. I can do it. It just takes time. And this 100-level class is taking me way more time than my MBA 500-level class I took last spring. But hey... I asked for it. And I do enjoy it. So no complaints from me.
Nice thing though is that I'm hoping next weekend I may be able to stroll around town a bit. Right now we're in the middle of a project building ten homes in -- what is probably -- one of the most poverty-stricken neighborhoods in the world: Makandal. It's in Jeremie, Haiti and it's a truly fantastic project.
When you see clay / cement homes with holes in the wall that you could stick your head through... you know it's not a wealthy area. And you know people truly long for the oppotunity to provide their family with a better life.
I'm glad to say we're making it happen.
Unfortunately, I haven't been able to visit it yet. I had the opportunity to visit last week as the foundations were being laid. But I've just got too much to learn with the transition at this point. And I had my studies, but I'm ok there now too. So hopefully I'll be fully situated soon. At that point, I'm sure I'll become more involved in the community / culture... learn the language, etc.
But in the meantime... off to bed....
* ya know... stuff like no power... regardless of a hurricane... don't speak the language... no idea of where to look for an ISP... local holidays where the country closes... etc.
Saturday, November 13, 2010
I doubt it.
Keep in mind, Chris Murphy has about the worst-kept secret in Connecticut. Everyone knows he'll be running for the US Senate in 2012. That leaves the CT-5 open.
So I figure Elizabeth has a choice. Run an extremely difficult race for:
1) the US House
2) the CT House
The fifth district is virtually guaranteed to be an open seat, while Al may very well run for another term. He certainly worked hard this year and I don't see anything slowing him down anytime soon.
I realize it may seem a bit unorthodox to jump from the losing a state seat to winning a federal seat. But I figure the question isn't so much if she's a legitimate contender in a general election. The real test is if she can take the Dem primary. And I think that's entirely possible.
As with most federal offices, the issues are money and organization. And since very few people kick off their first run for Congress with a large organization, I think the bigger issue is fundraising.
Fundraising is a hurdle for any candidate. But when you have a Yale / Harvard background and your family has worked for the POTUS, you have a rolodex. And if your argument for viability is having lost an extremely close race because of an issue -- the death penalty -- that is probably near and dear to many Dem primary voters... then I think you've got a chance.
And when it comes to other social issues -- the issues that drive many primaries -- she's there with base.
On top of all that, she's been a supporter of Governor-elect Malloy since his losing bid in the 2006 Dem primary. So she's probably got a supporter there.
And when it comes to the competition, much of the CT-5 is dominated by Rs in both the House and Senate in Hartford. Sure there are some office holders. But if she wants to take the time to get started fundraising -- probably before Christmas -- I think it's entirely possible that she could raise the money and win the Dem primary... and go all the way to Washington in 2012.
So in a nutshell... if she decides to run again, I'm guessing she'll run for Congress. And there won't be another rematch of Adinolfi vs. Esty in 2012. That'd leave Al a virtual lock for reelection in 2012, if he chooses to have at it.
Labels: 2012 election
Wednesday, November 10, 2010
... includes kabrit. I've had kabrit before, but never in the US. And never on a regular basis.
This is Haiti. Goat is a staple here. And I've been eating it quite a bit. It's ok, but personally I'm not a big fan. It's similar to lamb in that it has a distinctive flavor. It's not nearly as pungent as lamb, but it certainly doesn't taste like chicken. I'm thinking it may be something of an acquired taste. We'll see. And hey... I hated yogurt when I went off to college. But by the time I returned to Cheshire... yum.
Dannon fruit on the bottom? Love it now.
Regardless, when in Rome...
Among my dietary delectables, I have fresh fruit and juice everyday. And that I already like. And my fruit intake goes beyond that. I had some sort of banana porridge this morning. It was good by itself, but... with a bit of sugar added it was delicious.
Despite the kabrit... relative to Vietnam, Haiti's diet seems quite similar to CT.
For instance, snake wine was everywhere. It was typically stored in a clear, two gallon glass jug. The snake would be coiled about two thirds of the way up the jug... effectively creating an inner wall for the jug. And it would be a cobra inside with the head standing up and the hood expanded to occupy the top third of the jug. But cobras weren't endangered. When it came to live pangolin, bear paw, monkey brain, tiger penis and rhino horn... everything was available. You'd just have to look around a bit. That stuff was upsetting. But the answer to addressing that stuff is complicated to say the least. Though in a nutshell, the way to end hunting of endangered species in Vietnam is the way to get reelected in the USA this year: jobs, jobs, jobs. But I'm getting way off topic. Gonna hit the sack now.
Tuesday, November 09, 2010
So the hurricane has come and gone. That's nice, but we're still not out of the woods yet. I saw a headline yesterday about cholera officially spreading to Port-au-Prince.
The cholera outbreak began north of PAP and has now officially reached the capitol. That sounds par for the course with cholera, but it's still concerning to me.
It can take time to spread and is almost certainly headed west to Jeremie. There have been a number of cases reported west of PAP. But they may still be people who contracted it in PAP, not in the towns on the road to Jeremie. And that makes a difference because the longer it takes to spread, the more time there is to increase awareness... which is really fairly basic.
I spoke with a great local doctor today and he told me the problem with cholera is that it can kill in four hours. But the cure is very simple... drink lots of water. If you get it, you have a real problem. But if you drink water -- or better yet, get an IV -- you should be fine.
I also asked about malaria, particularly as I'm not taking anything for it. I considered taking an anti-malarial once. It was larium and it was during my trip to east Africa in 2000. But most drugs have side effects. And larium has its own alter ego. It doubles as a hallucenogenic drug.
I wasn't really interested. Besides, I was hallucinating naturally!
By the time I summited Kilimanjaro my high altitude sickness (HAS) had me seeing all sorts of stuff... including a bull elephant charging across Ernie's Snows straight at me. The ridiculous part about that was that I was so giddy from the HAS, I just laughed when I saw it in full stride.
Anyway, I was told that the Jeremie strain of malaria is NBD. There's no need to take anything -- even chloroquine. It's easier to deal with as it comes.
So there you have it on the medical front. I had a great local doctor tell me that I shouldn't be worried... just educated and cautious.
We'll see how that works out... knock on wood...
Monday, November 08, 2010
First he did the crimes, then he was convicted, and now he pays the price. This is as it should be. As Dr. Bill Petit said today, "This isn't about vengeance, it's about justice". Serious crimes have serious consequences.
I just hope my activist legislator, Vickie Nardello, doesn't get her wish to "save" him with her legislation to retroactively repeal the death penalty. She may not introduce the legislation this term. But I bet she pushes it again at some point.
Next up: The other predator, Joshua Komisarjevsky.
Nothing is certain yet, but... if the House GOP continue to use their long-established rule of seniority determining who chairs various committees and subcommittees, then Ron Paul is set to Chair the House Financial Services Committee's subcommittee on Monetary Policy!
This is absolutely fantastic news for anyone who is concerned about Washington's penchant for powering up the printing presses.
Furthermore, I understand that subcommittee Chairs get the power of subpoena.
I just hope he gets the gavel. I'm confident that the Chief Proponent of Printing Presses, King Bernanke, will do whatever he can to stop Congressman Paul from getting the gavel though. Bernanke will pull out all the stops on this one. I wouldn't be surprised if he challenges the seniority system itself.
Personally, I'm not a big fan of the seniority system. I think the most qualified people should run committees, when possible. But that wouldn't make a difference with this committee. Ron Paul is the most qualified person to run the Monetary Policy subcommittee.
While one may disagree with his views, the reality is that he's the only member of the Gang of 535 who had any view on monetary policy before 2008, The Year of the Bailout.
And if he does get the gavel? I expect that with the power of the gavel, Ben Bernanke will have to actually engage in a philosophical debate with Ron Paul about monetary policy, including:
1) fiat money vs. sound money
2) Keynesians vs. Austrians
3) Should the Federal Reserve exist?
4) fractional-reserve banking vs. full-reserve banking
This is gonna be fun!
Sunday, November 07, 2010
I recall quite clearly the outrage toward the Bush Administration for controlling the flow information from the White House to the public. I think it was noticeable to me during the "accidental release" of information regarding Valerie Plame.
Now we see the Rell Administration, particularly her Chief of Staff Lisa Moody, being publicly chastised for contolling information as they've prohibited all staff from speaking with a new administration:
Moody is renowned among Rell's administrators for insisting on knowledge and control of even small details, and for heavily managing the image and message of the administration.
"This is a completely unnecessary artificial roadblock to the transition, whoever the governor is," Lawlor said. "Obviously the governor's chief of staff has a history of keeping all the agencies on a very short leash, and this gets in the way of good government.
Some information should be kept confidential. But the way some people would like control information is ridiculous. Transparency and good government matter.
Friday, November 05, 2010
It's been a few days since I blogged on my time here in Haiti. I had to discuss the election. But I see Haiti, including my town, all over the news. So I want to offer an update.
But first some background...
Haiti has four four-day weekends:
New Year (January 1 & 2)
Mardi Gras (& Lundi Gras)
Good Friday (and Good Thursday)
Day of the Dead (November 1 & 2)
Day of the Dead is relevant for a future post, but also because I just had Monday and Tuesday off from work.
And some more relevant background for this post:
I'm here replacing another CPA. And before she leaves, she wanted to see a bit more of the country. So she took the opportunity to extend her long weekend and planned on taking an extra day and a half holiday, returning on Thursday afternoon.
I'm based in a town named Jeremie and she visited a town named Aux Cayes (or Les Cayes, if you want to look at a map). The two towns are probably about 30 miles apart, but that's typically a seven hour ride by bus which is the most common (and regularly scheduled) form of transportation. She told me that cars and motorbikes can make the trip in four to five hours though.
And now the status update:
All week there has been talk about the impending hurricane. Following the earthquake and the cholera outbreak, I'm guessing the government realizes the value of disaster preparation. And by Wednesday, I figured Ann -- the girl I'm replacing -- wouldn't even be returning this week as Jeremie and Les Cayes both lay in the projected path of the eye of Hurricane Tomas. Then by early Thursday morning, she called to say she was probably going to be stuck in Aux Cayes until the hurricane had gone and roads were again passable.
The morning came and went, but at lunch the office door flew open. "Miracles do happen!" she said. After half a dozen phone calls and referrals on Thursday morning, she got in touch with Catholic Relief Services (CRS). They were probably going to be driving the last SUV out of Les Cayes to Jeremie before the hurricane really hit.
But they didn't get out before the hurricane hit. For the first half of the trip -- probably to where the mountains slowed Tomas' progression -- the hurricane was pouring down. At one point, the SUV had to cross a river.
She told me that although they were in a rush, they initially waited to see someone walk across the river to gauge the depth of the water. Seeing someone cross, they decided to go for it and the SUV didn't stall! But there was a fairly surprising comment she made to me.
She said that she made sure they rolled down the windows because she didn't want to get into a car accident and drown. I understood what she was saying, but it still seemed a bit odd. She then elaborated. About a year ago, she knew three people who drowned in that same spot. So obviously this is one of those places in the world where flash floods occur -- because of steep canyon walls -- and kill.
She had gotten across without any serious injury. But she added that there really wasn't any problem crossing the river. And they were able to hightale it back to Jeremie. And after all that conversation, our boss let us know that there was actually one more SUV doing the Les Cayes - Jeremie trek yesterday. So Ann would've had one more chance to return before the weekend.
That was all on Thursday.
Fast forward to today.
Although the health clinic was closed, Ann and I worked. Just too much to do with the transition. And when I walked in the door, Ann told me about the second SUV.
At that same crossing, her "backup ride" tried to cross the river a few hours later. And whether they rolled down their windows or not... the nightmared came to be. And by the time I got home today, the AP was reporting on it:
Four deaths were confirmed by Haitian officials, all people attempting to cross rivers by car or on foot in the mountainous region to the west of Leogane, on Haiti's far southwestern tip.
It really is a tragedy.
Yet as close as this struck to home, there was something as equally unnerving to me as the fragility of life. It's the raw feelings and the sensory overload that can lead to some temporary desensitizing for me during my time in the developing world. With all the deprivation and death that I see in some parts of the world, I just can't help it at times.
Having said all that, I'm glad to report that I haven't heard of any deaths in Jeremie proper. And since flooding is a serious issue in some of the most poverty-stricken slums in Jeremie -- part of the reason I decided to come here -- it's worth noting. Though I'm guessing we'll get an increased number of visitors to the clinic by Monday.
I've got a ton of homework to get done this weekend. But if I take a walk, I'll head down to the parts of town that were probably hit hardest and get you an update.
For those of you unaware of the quote, it comes from 17th century Britain.
A British citizen got disgusted with Parliament. So he prepared a load of dynamite and attempted to use underground tunnels to deliver the dynamite to a place directly below Parliament. He wanted to blow the place up. Unfortunately, he got caught along the way.
No, no... all joking aside... what he tried to do was wrong. But when I see the results of Tuesday's election... then see Ben Bernanke announce more "stimulus" and presumptive Speaker Boehner doesn't say a word... I get so disgusted. I just hope the 70+ new Republicans are clear with John and Mitch -- before the leadership votes -- that the policy of borrow and spend has got to stop.
Anyway... Happy Guy Fawkes Day! And if you want to learn a bit more about Guy Fawkes, you can pickup a copy of V for Vendetta at the Cheshire Public Library. It's my favorite movie and was also something of an inspiration for the Ron Paul 2008 movement... the same movement that gave birth to the Tea Party!
Wednesday, November 03, 2010
With my temporary departure from home, I'm sure I'll be posting a lot less. Partly as a result of my departure and partly a result of simply wanting to increase communication with Cheshire's voters, BOE member Tony Perugini is starting his own blog. Known to many of you as a regular, candid member of TWL, you can find Tony's new blog here:
Tony Perugini Listens
So along with Cindy's Underground Town Hall, there should still be something of an active blogging community in town. Good luck, Tony!
Perhaps lost amid the hurrahs of last night's election results, the Fedsters and Helicopter Ben have announced another $600 billion in "stimulus."
I find it hard to believe that Bernanke made this announcement without first communicating his intentions to presumptive Speaker Boehner... and probably getting some sort of tacit approval.
Has Boehner voiced any opposition to more of the same? I haven't seen anything yet... which is entirely unacceptable. I certainly hope that some of the new GOP call him on this and demand his strong public opposition to more stimulus. I mean, if Boehner can't see the obvious disparity between yesterday's election and today's stimulus, then he's too dumb to be Speaker. And if he sees the difference, but ignores it... then the house cleaning probably ought to continue in 2012.
Why did we elect Republicans?
$425,000 Fire Dept breathing apparatus
YES 8800 73.99%
NO 3094 26.01%
Total votes 11894
$1.5m Road Repavement
YES 7196 62.48%
NO 4321 37.52%
Total votes 11517
$1m roof replacement
YES 6279 54.90%
NO 5159 45.10%
Total votes 11438
$570,000 Dodd kitchen renovations
YES 5960 51.84%
NO 5538 48.16%
Total votes 11498
$475,000 CHS track replacement
YES 4542 39.48%
NO 6962 60.52%
Total votes 11504
Here's a ten year history of Cheshire referenda results. And see here for a trend analysis of certain referenda.
I'm guessing the recent history of rejected recreation-related projects (2005 linear trail, 2010 pool, 2010 track) will be taken into consideration by the Council when the turf comes to a vote.
With regard to the track, I'm uncertain what will happen with the $150,000 previously appropriated. My guess is that it'll be used to perform ongoing maintenance... or the Council could probably defund all or some of the appropriation... before it gets used on other projects "related to the track." Wouldn't be surprised if David Schrumm already knows the answer to that.
It's also notable that the Dodd kitchen renovations weren't given any sort of massive support, while roads were given pretty strong support.
Tuesday, November 02, 2010
The MRJ is reporting that Matt Jalowiec defeated Matt Hall for Judge of Probate... yes! Congratulations go out to the Honorable Judge Jalowiec elect!!!
And congratulations to Joe Markley! The MRJ is also reporting he won. So that's the two open "local" seats both being won by Rs.
And the last bit of info that I got tonight... apparently the track lost 2 to 1. As I've been mentioning for a while now, I'm not at all surprised that it went down. People are tired of spending and the track simply isn't a necessary expenditure at this time.
But the question in my mind that relates directly to the track... what happens with the turf? Seems to me that people are tired of spending. And the voters know that the spending today means spending tomorrow. And it's yet another example of Alan Sobol demonstrating that's he more attuned to taxpayer concerns than any other board member.
Labels: 2010 election
No doubt to the dismay of some Advocates of Big Government, I'm alive and well! Haha...
I haven't had access to The Internets since Friday. Getting situated is proving to be somewhat complicated and time-consuming. But I'm confident everything will be fine within a couple weeks. Until then, I'm not sure how much blogging I'll be doing.
In the meantime, feel free to use this as an Election Night Open Forum. I know the pundits are saying the GOP will do well tonight... let's see what happens.
I cast my ballot before I left.
Of most interest to me isn't an election for an office. I'm wondering what's gonna happen with the five referenda.
Labels: 2010 election
Wednesday, October 27, 2010
I sent the following letter to the Herald. I'm hoping it's published tomorrow.
To the Editor:
Thank you to the many people who have extended their best wishes as I begin my charitable work in Haiti. Before I leave, I wish to invite my neighbors to vote to end the systemic corruption in Hartford.
Rep. Mary Fritz’s son gets a no-show job supervising the I-84 storm-drains-to-nowhere. Sen. Tom Gaffey double bills the state for expenses and gets a $1 Billion no-strings-attached grant for his lobbyist girlfriend. To say that these corrupt incumbents need to go is to state the obvious.
Then there are incumbents like Rep. Vickie Nardello who, while personally decent, are enablers of corruption. Her silence on the likes of Fritz and Gaffey makes her complicit. Nardello is part of the leadership in Hartford. She represents business-as-usual and she needs to go.
Kathy Brown is a refreshing alternative. She’ll work to end corruption, restore good government, and balance the budget. Please join me in voting for Kathy Brown for 89th district Rep.
Tuesday, October 26, 2010
6pm Sunday: Ate dinner with representatives from Pure Water for the World. The dinner was basically for them, but besides their group -- a dozen strong -- I think I was the only other person staying at the guesthouse. So they asked me to join them. Based on the discussion, it seemed as though they're a group of Rotarians. They were mostly Americans, but from as far away as Australia.
7:00pm: Zonked out before the sun set.
Midnight: Asleep for the night!
5:30am Monday: Roosters crowing, sun rising, me awakening.
6:30am: Carry my three backpacks -- each stuffed more than a Thanksgiving turkey -- downstairs and out to the land rover. Eat a fried egg and my first melted, but now frozen, Hershey bar... which was melted again before I finished it... which took about three mins max.
7:00am: I'm an eyewitness to the chaos of the Port-au-Prince domestic airport. OK, this isn't exactly newsworthy. And I'm sure it's like this everyday. But on a smaller scale -- all planes appear to have 10 to 20 seats -- it's even more out-of-control.
8:00am: Survive the madness, get my boarding pass and make the walk to the 3-step door / ladder and jump in. Actually was kinda funny because there was a nun sitting right next to me who kept looking at me as though I'd be able to help her buckle her seat belt. Thing is, as she chuckled, we both knew her problem wasn't a lack of knowledge in basic mechanics. The problem was that the buckle was at the end of the belt and the two pieces still weren't reaching each other.
9:00am: I hear the computerized countdown in the cockpit... 30, 20, 10... touchdown! Back in Jeremie. Safe'n'sound.
Nuff for now. Gotta hit the books.
Sunday, October 24, 2010
8am Friday: I get a txt msg from a travel buddy that cholera is ripping through Haiti. Concerning to me is that this guy rode his bicycle around the world. He's no stranger to foreign adventure and I generally listen to him.
7pm Friday: I read the reporting on the cholera outbreak... it's nowhere near where I'm going... land in Port-au-Prince, then onward to Jeremie.
3pm Saturday: My neighbor stops by to encourage me to stay away from Haiti.
Midnight: CNN reports the cholera deaths are spreading to PAP. Great.
5am today: Wake up. 10 deaths in PAP. Not worried, but definitely concerned.
6:00am: Leave for JFK
7:30am: Say goodbye to Carrie and head thru customs.
9:15am: Buy bottled water.
9:30am: All aboard.
9:35am: Talking with a very professorial gentleman -- an aid worker. He assures me that I'll be fine in PAP. Reassuring, but still concerned. Not going to be drinking any tap water anytime soon.
10:00am: Zonked out... had about four hours sleep last night.
1:00pm: Wake up and realize I'm no longer and elected official. Kinda bittersweet. Sad, but I always enjoy looking forward to all the possibilities the future holds! And now turning back the clocks one hour...
12:30pm: The eagle has landed. I stand up to grab my bag in the overhead compartment. Jammed into the narrow walkway and start talking with an American who has just arrived with her NGO, Digital Democracy. They're doing something related to ensuring free and fair elections here. Coincidentally, their Presidential election is on Thanksgiving weekend. So I'm definitely not coming home then as I've been told that Haitian Elections make a Wilbur Cross - Cheshire football game look like The Teddy Bears Picnic... streets shut down, tire fires everywhere. It's not a time to move about the country. Anyway, her discussion of free'n'fair elections struck me for some obvious reasons. And also because public policy and good government are so important... and it all starts with free and fair elections.
1:30pm: Customs and baggage claim... I can take either the heat & humidity or the free-for-all, WWE mayhem of the baggage claim... but putting the two together... ugh. SO glad to get out of there and see someone waiting for me... though when the guy told me that I "had" to pay him $10 for standing there with a sign and bringing my bags the 200 yards to the parking lot, I got a bit annoyed again. NBD though. I just rolled my eyes and laughed at him, saying he had to be kidding himself if he thought I was actually going to give him $10 for that... and that he may as well give me my bags back. And since he didn't, I let him bend my ear for the less-than-five-minutes walk and gave him two bucks when we got to the car. I mean, I'm happy to tip somebody... but when it comes to Americans visiting the developing world... there are way too many people working in the tourist industry who think it's appropriate to scam Americans. So he hemmed'n'hawed as I got in the car, but he knew $2 was fine.
2:00pm: Arrived at the guesthouse, Matthew 25. No a/c, just a fan. But they have cold soda for a buck, paid for with the honor system. Others staying at the house include a Board Member for PureWaterForTheWorld... a group that provides some sort of sand and rock water filtration system to people in Haiti, Nica and Hondo... and a film crew producing a documentary on soil, composting and something else for a soil-related NGO based in San Fran. Both interesting to me. Anyway, I have both my Chem book and this jam-packed cyber cafe -- where each person gets about five square feet of real estate -- just across the street... where I'm sitting now... as far as know without any cholera! So I'm in a good mood. Fly out to the countryside tomorrow.
3:00pm: My one hour on the web is about to expire. So signing off for now!
Saturday, October 23, 2010
As I handed my absentee ballot to the Town Clerk's office this week, I also handed them this:Thank you for all the support over the past seven years on the Council and five years on the blog... TWL was born on January 17, 2006.
As I've said, a blog is a diary. So I'm sure I'll continue posting, but not so much about local politics. Plus, I start Chem 101 on Monday with Charter Oak U.
I'm logging off now for at least a few days... or perhaps a few weeks. If I have my internet connection fully sorted by Wednesday, I may post then. I sent a letter to the Herald and they said they'll try to run it.
But if I don't do much blogging, feel free to friend me on FB. It's easy enough to stay in touch there.
And if you're curious about who will represent the 4th district, join the club... I don't know either.
Labels: town government
Friday, October 22, 2010
The MRJs Dan Ivers reported on the Tom Gaffey / Len Suzio debate.
Thankfully, Len raised the issue critical to the issues facing Hartford. The corrupt politicians who run the show and need to go:
Speaking in favor of term limits, Suzio criticized Gaffey as a victim of his long tenure in the legislature, and brought up reporting violations in his campaigns that were uncovered as recently as last year, as well as his relationship with a state university associate dean while he voted to fund the university system.
Fair and necessary points. But Sen. Gaffey responded:
strongly by saying Suzio should be ashamed for bringing up his personal life, and in remarks after the debate, said it was "better to be a gentleman than score cheap points."
No, Mr. Gaffey. YOU are the one who should be ashamed. But like Mary Fritz, you are so out-of-touch that you don't even realize how wrong you are.