Hartford's race for mayor: Clone Bob Ludgin

Clone Bob Ludgin

    If Hartford can get a thousand well-educated, professional people who give a hoot about community and quality-of-life issues to up and move in from the suburbs, the battle will not only be joined, it will be won.

    It is nonsense to think that because Ludgin moved back into Hartford from West Hartford to run for mayor he should somehow be seen as not-qualified. Thatís like Yankeesí fans dismissing Roger Clemens because he didnít come up through the farm system.

    Ludgin is even more praiseworthy, since Clemens joined the Bronx Bombers because he wanted to play for a winner. Ludginís move is more like signing on to the Mudville Nine after Mighty Casey struck out.

    Hartford needs all the help it can get. There may have been a time when the city could be choosy about where its public servants lived, but that clock has long run down. The city should elect a competent, capable mayor, and not sweat the small stuff.

    Candidates can even be forgiven if they pronounce  Sigourney Streey like the actress' first name.  Beggars can't be choosers.

    Flyweight Eddie Perez, the Hartford Courantís choice for mayor, greatest claim to City Hall seems to be that his last name is Perez. Itís hard to imagine that newspaper would be so enthusiastic if his name were Martinelli, Epstein or Fitzpatrick.

    Almost none of the people who write opinion for that paper actually live in Hartford. There are a couple of exceptions, such as Jeff "Thereís nothing a hug canít fix" Rivers.

    Suburban types prefer Hartford to have a weak mayor who wonít say things like, "Hey, maybe you ought to house a few poor people."

    Perez, who promised supporters an "outside" slate for the City Council, caved to insider pressure faster than the Flintstones, before nudge came to push.

    Of course he was very busy sucking up to campaign contributors, including the New Britain Manaforts, a name so often heard in conjunction with the shady side of politics that people follow them around on hot days looking for a little relief.

    While Ludgin has announced his first priority would be to improve basic city services, the mayoral and council races still, as always, lack a discussion on what it is Hartford really needs to do: make itself a desirable place for nice families and an unwelcoming place for undesirables.

    Despite a commendable effort by school authorities, almost four out of five kids failed to show up for the first day of school. Again. And every year, more than one-third of kids in most of the elementary schools didnít attend the same school the year before. People with kids who have a choice will choose stability. And that means the suburbs.

    If they wanted their kids to be around migrants, theyíd buy a vegetable farm.

    And while there are elements of Hispanic culture that bring vibrancy to the city, itís not like people are lining up to move to Guatemala. Hartford could use a few less low-riding Toyotas with boom boxes bigger than their engines.

    Anyone who talks about the "Six Pillars of Development" being some kind of answer to the cityís problems should be pilloried. To death. A nice downtown is nice a place for suburbanites to visit.

    And please Ė pretty please- can Hartford stop hiring "experts" who declare that regionalization and the suburbs pitching in will fix things? If the city goes, they like to proclaim, the suburbs will follow. Right. The suburbs have thrived and prospered while (and perhaps because) Hartford has continued to decline.

    The necessities for a Hartford revival have appeared in these pages many times: Design a master residential plan that includes the reduction of subsidized housing and the construction of new, upscale neighborhoods. Establish a tier of admission-based schools for the talented student along the lines of New Yorkís Stuyvesant or Bostonís Latin. Implement a citywide mass transit system that allows people in these new neighborhoods to commute to work in the civilized way of yesteryear.

    Clean neighborhoods and good schools are why people live in the suburbs. Itís not because they like spending an hour or two in their cars every day to get to work. So if you can get enough people who are used to such things to live in the Hartford, they will demand that the city provide them.

    Bob Ludgin is one such person. All Hartford needs is about 999 more like him.

September 9, 2001