Assume for the moment that through some miracle of nature, Hartford really does become a convention-mad colossus; and the Front Street project is loud and boisterous and full of cool shops and classy hookers and fancy gin joints; and expensive condos full of creative gay guys with lots of disposable income are popping up downtown, like the dandelions of spring.
In response to this hedonistic Eden, the local politicians decide to allow the bars to stay open until 4 a.m.
Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha. You know they can't do that. Despite all the huffing and puffing about how much autonomy cities and towns have in Connecticut, in fact, they are treated as stupid children. No, the state decides how late local bars stay open; the state decides where you can smoke and where you can't; and the state decides whether a happy conventioneer can pop into a grocery store and buy a bottle of champagne to celebrate. (Of course, the answer to that one is ``no.'') In fact, the state works very hard to control things that should be none of its business -- and to run away from things where it might actually be of assistance.
While many Connecticut cities and towns privately confide that they are fully capable of delivering almost every government service in a manner superior to -- or at least more responsive than -- the state drones, there is a suspicion that in a state with 169 towns, housing only about 3.4 million people or so, there might be room for some state government consolidation of one thing or another.
On the macro level, the state should gobble up ``special education'' -- a financial and pedagogical nightmare in which every school system, large or small, rich or poor, competent or failing, is responsible for the top-quality education of kids with often-nightmarish disabilities -- frequently with vague diagnoses.
Should we continue the pretense that Union or
can or should comfortably provide identical special education services to those of much larger and wealthier communities? Or that Hartford, which can barely educate the mainstream kids, should be entrusted with children in need of sophisticated attention?
On the micro level, why is it that the state mandated rather lavish and comprehensive local responsibilities for the capture, care and disposal of stray cats and
and emus? Again, in a state with a total population the size of one large city, do we need a chain of local, redundant Doggie Red Roof Inns?
Obviously, the dog-pound example is small potatoes, but it raises a more important issue in all this: Why aren't more cities and towns aggressively seeking to join together to provide services that the state is not inclined to offer?
and Portland, after negotiations more complex and lengthy than an
prenuptial agreement, have in place a modest little dog-pound pact, in which Middletown rents a few doggie hotel suites from the Portland shelter.
And now, the town manager of
has proposed a regional animal prison that would serve naughty animals from Hartford to
Again, this low-key animal-control thing does bring home the oddity of so many smallish jurisdictions, obligated to perform complex, serious matters, while precluded from deciding on things as trivial as whether you can buy a Merlot at the local grocery store, or let the conventioneers get liquored up on Saturday nights.
It is the state that requires that the captured animals be housed for a week, before they can be shipped to that big animal farm in the sky. The state could privatize this housing responsibility by writing a big, fat check to the Humane Society, building two or three large facilities and getting each town out of the business of being the Doggie Holiday Inn.