Thursday, July 12, 2007

Back to business, New Haven style

After a day of being in babyland and another in the thrall and thrill of being with Elianna Yehudit and her sisters (and parents), it's back to business as usual.

There's plenty to talk about. The headlines are a hoot. "Singer critical after shooting himself," the headline says. I'd be pretty ticked off under those circumstances, too.

But seriously, folks, the news in New Haven is typical. Things don't change much, but it's good to see that our mayor is stuck with problems that began, or at least were made worse during a past administration with which he had a lot to do.

I'm talking, of course, about the late Biagio (Ben) DiLieto, whom Mayor John DeStefano served in at least one capacity.

The problems of which I speak are the Shartenberg site at Chapel and Orange streets and the Tweed-New Haven Airport.

The Shartenberg site has been a parking lot since Ben DiLieto gave it to Hartford developer David Chase as part of the deal that resulted in the renovation of City Hall and the building of the Connecticut Financial Center next door. The Chase building was built with a number of city tax incentives and the Shartenberg site given with the promise of a Chase building a parking garage there within two years. That was in the 1980s.

We're still waiting, but like his mentor, DeStefano seems to be willing to give incentives in order to get a downtown project whose need is in dispute, at the least.

The airport is another issue, and perhaps a more serious one.

At one time, Tweed was a going concern, with flights taking off for and landing from airports all over the East, if not the nation. Then people who had bought houses cheaper because they were near the airport started agitating for the airport to be used more sparingly.

Their champion was Ben DiLieto, and the East Shore was his political base. Under Ben's leadership, the neighbors hectored the airport to a point where only puddle-jumpers were used commercially and they only went to Newark, Philadelphia and near Washington, D.C.

There are now plans for a renaissance of the airport and they should be allowed to succeed.

New Haven Independent readers have chimed in on the subject, and only one of them made half a lick of sense. This person said the airport was important to the city's economic growth as much as downtown development. The others complained about the high cost of flying out of Tweed.
Well, duh -- if the airport were being used up to its potential, there wouldn't be the need for as much subsidy and the cost of flying out of Tweed would be less.

The airport deserves our support.

Page 2

We must pause for a moment to remember Lady Bird Johnson, the wife of Lyndon Johnson, the man who really got laws passed that led to whatever racial fairness we have today. She was not a person who took the limelight, but for her time, she worked for the greening of America, urging the planting of gardens and other greenery. She also had the good sense to keep her opinions to herself after her husband left office.

Some former presidents, such as Jimmy Carter, would do well to follow her example.

Until next time...

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