Poor New Haven. Its police department has been unable to make arrests in 35 of the 45 murders committed in the city in the last two years, a failure rate of 78%.
Despite $111 million in federal emergency assistance, New Haven’s school system is running a deficit again, constantly losing teachers to higher-paying school systems and unable to provide drinking water to students, having shut down the water fountains in school hallways in fear that the fountains contribute to the virus epidemic. While water bottle-filling stations have been ordered, they may not be installed before the next school year begins.
But elsewhere Mayor Justin Elicker’s administration is on a tear of efficiency. Last week the city launched a sweep of local businesses to check compliance with the mayor’s order that everyone indoors in business and commercial facilities must wear a face mask.
Face masks are doubtful mechanisms of curtailing the virus, but if everyone is required to wear a mask indoors, at least medical theater can make city government seem to be taking charge, distracting from its other failures. A problem will arise only if people start comparing risks.
For even before the arrival of the latest variant of the virus, Omicron, 99.8% of people infected recovered, and while Omicron is believed to be more communicable, in most cases it also appears to be far less severe, no worse than a cold and less deadly than, say, a bullet to the brain and the other causes of the criminal deaths New Haven can’t solve.
But all Connecticut, not just New Haven, should be questioning government’s priorities in the face of the city’s many unsolved murders.
A few days ago Windsor’s police department announced that after eight months of investigation, it remains unable to determine who, back in April, hung ropes resembling nooses at the Amazon warehouse under construction in that town. The ropes injured no one, but many people were eager to claim that they had felt threatened.
A Windsor police statement described the extensive efforts taken to solve the supposed crime: “Numerous interviews of Amazon construction site personnel were conducted, including steel workers, electricians, safety and security workers, and administrative personnel, as well as others not directly involved in the construction site. Investigators reviewed personnel records of multiple employees, camera footage, and shift logs.” Some people were given polygraph tests.
Assisting the Windsor police were the FBI, state police, and Hartford state’s attorney’s office.
What if such federal and regional resources had been poured instead into investigating the 35 unsolved murders in New Haven? Might one or two of them have been solved by now?
Maybe not, but at least Connecticut would have been spared eight months of expensive political correctness.
Last week there was also a hopeful development in New Haven. After years of failure to act on the huge potential of historic Union Station, the busiest and grandest railroad station in Connecticut, city government and the state Transportation Department signed a development agreement.
State government will lease the station and its adjacent property to the city for 35 years, with a possible extension of 20 years, so the city might improve it with much-needed parking, a bus depot, restaurants and retail shops, offices, a beautiful plaza, frequent shuttle bus service to Tweed New Haven Airport, and whatever else might befit this gateway to Connecticut and link it to downtown New Haven a half mile away — if enough free money ever can be found from the state and federal governments, since the city never will have any of its own to spare.
It’s a compelling idea but as the city’s police and school disasters suggest, there’s little reason to believe that New Haven is capable of executing it any more than Hartford has been capable of managing its own big development projects, which is why state government has put a state agency in charge of them. The same should have been done for the Union Station project in New Haven.
So it will be no surprise if the project takes 35 years just to get started, only to end up with marijuana dispensaries, methadone and abortion clinics, gambling parlors, still more housing for people who can’t support themselves — and still not enough parking.