My Cardboard Box

In Connecticut, it’s more than “Government aid for newspapers”

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There been much to-do about Connecticut lawmaker Frank Nicastro’s and fellow legislators’ petitioning the state government to do something about failing local newspapers.  Representaive Nicastro is flat-out wrong, but I understand the sentiment.

It’s not really so much about the papers’ survival, as it is their host communities’ relevance.

A historical equivalent is the towns and villages that missed out on the railroads in the 19th century, or the Interstate in the mid 20th. For Connecticut towns, it’s also a case of surviving as separate entities instead of become de-facto boroughs to Hartford, New Haven, and Bridgeport.

When Connecticut was first established, the center of power was set in the state government; towns exists and function at the sufferance of the state. Their only source of income outside of state largesse is property taxes, Which means there are some well-to-do areas, and some not-so well off areas.  The latter are have generally been caused by self-inflicted wounds – Hartford, for example, famously drove out its middle-class by ruining their neighborhoods, cutting back services and raising taxes. They then had the gall to blame them for fleeing to the suburbs.  I won’t touch on their failed relationship with the insurance companies and other businesses, or the cronyism, or the corruption, mismanagement, and inefficiency.

The flight to the suburbs means that people work in the communities around the cities of Hartford, Bridgeport, and New Haven,  with a few working in cities themselves. There’s also the Gold Coast that commutes to New York, but I won’t touch on that here.

As for  Hartford/New Haven/Bridgeport, the suburbanites drive in, work, and for the most part, immediately drive home (New Haven tends to be an exception). That rankles the cities, their community activists, and politicians. Never mind that they’ve done a ‘good job’ of  alienating the commuters;  it’s the contents of their wallets that they want.

So the big push by those cities is ‘regionalization’, meaning that communities around the major cities (Hartford, Bridgeport, New Haven) are to be lumped in with, and forced to support, those urban sinkholes. The parasite hosts – I mean donor towns – would end up  sharing their property-tax and federal supplied funds,  their schools, and their community services. Think of the ‘regional authority’  as post-modern counties with non-elected bureaucrats supervising the  distribution of weath and services.

Some consolidation is inevitable. But to avoid being lumped in with the ‘suburbs’ ,  communities like Bristol and their surrounding areas have  show that they are relevant and viable communities.  They then can argue that they’re urban hubs, and  shouldn’t be lumped in with the other donor towns. Having your own newspaper is appears to be one of the criteria.

Sovereignty and relevance, such as they are. That’s essentially what’s at stake.


Written by PappyBro

January 1, 2009 at 19:15

Posted in Media, Politix

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