North End’s Sewer Mess is Lousy Politics, Not Racism

Chris Powell


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For many years Hartford’s North End, the heavily Black area of the city, has suffered extensive sewage overflows into basements from its antiquated sewer system, and the other day residents there complained about it again, this time to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The problem is universally acknowledged but nothing is being done about it. According to the Hartford Courant, one community leader calls it “environmental racism,” an increasingly fashionable and politically opportunistic complaint.

Yes, fixing the problem would cost tens of millions of dollars, maybe more. Yet all the responsible agencies are full of cash, from the regional water and sewer agency, the Metropolitan District Commission; to Governor Lamont’s administration, which is sitting on billions of dollars in surplus funds; to the federal government, which has created so much money in recent years, much of it in the name of infrastructure improvements, that it has drowned the world in a devastating inflation.

Even the city of Hartford itself, while on the brink of bankruptcy a few years ago, chose against fixing the North End sewers and instead decided to build a minor-league baseball stadium downtown.

This prompted a sneaky maneuver by the Democratic state administration of Gov. Dannel P. Malloy to have state government assume the entirety of Hartford’s $500 million bonded debt while doing nothing about the heavy indebtedness of Connecticut’s other troubled cities — a gesture of spectacular patronage to the city.

None of this was “environmental racism.” It was ordinary politics for which the political party that claims to be the tribune of the poor and racial minorities, the Democratic Party, is comprehensively responsible, since it has controlled all levels of government involved with the North End sewer issue — local, state, and federal.

Lately Connecticut’s two U.S. senators, Richard Blumenthal and Chris Murphy, have been voting essentially for blank checks for Ukraine in pursuit of a war against Russia whose aims the U.S. government has yet to specify. Indeed, as the North Enders renewed their complaints about the sewer issue, Blumenthal flew off to Ukraine again.

The Hartford area’s U.S. representative, John B. Larson, lately has been pressing to spend as much as $17 billion in infrastructure money not on fixing the North End’s sewers but to relocate the Hartford area’s highways and put many miles of them in tunnels.

Hartford Mayor Luke Bronin has been advancing various expensive housing and commercial projects around the city, apparently figuring that leadership on the North End sewer problem can be left to the MDC, state government, the EPA, or someone else.

The North End’s sewers never get fixed not because of “environmental racism” but because the residents there are poor, insufficiently engaged, have terrible political representation at every level, and accept it.

Having just won a new four-year term, thanks in part to the usual huge plurality from Hartford, and presiding over most of the administrative assets that can fix the sewer problem, Governor Lamont should be the target of the North End’s clamor. But does anyone representing the North End even know where to find him?

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EXPOSE CHILD RAPE: Having hit a homerun with their proposal for a huge and quick reduction in Connecticut’s electric rates — removing the state government charges hidden in electric bills — the General Assembly’s Republican minority now may press another good issue. Some Republican legislators propose to require parental notification for abortions performed on minors.

The legislation may not even get a hearing, since the legislature’s Democratic majority is so extremist on abortion. But at least raising the issue may show how the Democrats seek to weaken the family, just as they are striving to weaken it by concealing from parents how schools handle the sexual dysphoria of their children.

Opponents of parental notification contend that it would expose child neglect or abuse at home or elsewhere — as if such neglect or abuse shouldn’t be exposed and acted against. Indeed, in Connecticut abortions for minors are arranged by their exploiters and rapists to conceal their felonies. Yet to Democratic legislators, abortion is the highest social good and so any abortion is better than exposing child sexual abuse.


Chris Powell ( is a columnist for the Journal Inquirer in Manchester, Connecticut.