Saturday, August 31, 2013

Lesser Urges City Residents To Attend DOT Hearings On Bus Fare Hikes

From the office of Matt Lesser.
Rep. Matt Lesser (D- Middletown) warned commuters who use CT Transit buses that DOT is considering raising fares beginning January 5, 2014.

“I want to thank DOT for holding these forums because commuters’ voices need to be heard,” Rep. Lesser said. “I urge you to attend one of these public hearings or submit written testimony.”

A list of the proposed fare increases can be found online at

In the coming weeks, the state Department of Transportation will hold public hearings on the proposed fare changes. Middletown residents can voice their views on the proposed fare increases at the following meetings:
Wed., Sept. 11, 2013; Noon-2 pm & 4:30-6:30 pm
Hartford Public Library, Center for Contemporary Culture
500 Main Street, Hartford
New Britain
Thur., Sept. 12, 2013; Noon-2 pm
New Britain Senior Center, Massachusetts Room
55 Pearl Street, New Britain
Tues., Sept. 17, 2013; Noon-2 pm
Meriden Town Hall, Room 28
142 East Main Street, Meriden                                                                           
Written comments can be sent to State of Connecticut, Department of Transportation, Bureau of Public Transportation, P.O. Box 317546, Newington, CT 06131-7546.  The caption “COMMENT ON INTENT TO INCREASE PUBLIC TRANSIT FARES” must appear on the envelope. Public comment can also be emailed to

Friday, August 30, 2013

The Path To The Ballot, Part III

I am a Democratic candidate for Planning and Zoning Commissioner, in the September 10th primary election, because 717 registered Democrats signed a primary petition to put my name on the ballot. During the process of qualifying for the primary, I realized that the issue of how candidates are chosen to be on the ballot is at least as important for a democracy as the voting that later determines who is elected.

This is the final of a 3-part series on access to the ballot in Middletown. Please note that this is not intended to be journalism: I believe everything to be accurate, but I am not a disinterested observer. A mainstream journalistic account can be found in The Middletown Press.
  • Part 1 (posted July 28) briefly described my experience trying to gain the nomination of the Democratic Town Committee.
  • Part 2 (posted August 2nd) covered the process of petitioning for a primary.
  • Part 3 (today) is primarily opinion and analysis of ballot access for Democrats in our municipal elections.
When I began this series on ballot access, I seriously doubted that I would succeed in getting my name on the ballot for the September 10th Democratic primary. Now that this has happened, I will recap the process, and then offer my perspective on how our political parties decide who gets on the ballot in Middletown.

717 Signatures
I began collecting signatures on July 25th, dubious, daunted, and despairing. Frankly, I did not think there was much hope of getting the necessary 519 officially verified signatures of registered Democrats by August 7th (519 is 5% of the 10,367 registered Dems in our city).

Happily I was wildly wrong.

About a dozen supporters helped me to bring primary petition forms to neighborhoods, storefronts, and public events. Our efforts went so well that we finished on August 3rd.  By the time all the primary petition forms were handed in to the Clerk's office, we had 717 verified Democratic signatures, nearly 40% more than required. 

My perspective on the rules for primary petitions has changed since I began collecting signatures. I was initially concerned that the threshold and time table were excessively draconian, giving the Town Committee nearly absolute power--its endorsement was the only realistic way to get on the ballot. Now, after having walked the streets and spoken to several thousand residents to collect signatures, I think the rules are reasonable. A primary election should not be easily triggered, and the rules prevent a flippant primary challenge by someone who does not demonstrate a personal commitment to campaigning, and support from the community.

However, the ability to primary petition does not absolve a Town Committee of its responsibility to have a nomination process that is fair and open, nor should it absolve a Town Committee of a responsibility to base nominations at least in part on a candidate's qualifications for governance. This is not a statement that anybody on the Democratic Town Committee would disagree with--of course the Democratic Party wants the strongest candidates! Unfortunately, the leadership and some members of the nominating subcommittee failed to live up to those responsibilities, and as a result have failed the Democratic party.

Conflict of interest: a situation in which a public official's decisions could be influenced by the official's personal interests
At least 5 people expressed an interest in being nominated for Planning and Zoning Commissioner: Paul Turenne, Rob Blanchard, myself, Dan Russo, and someone currently serving on the Design Review and Historic Preservation Board. The nominating sub-committee was charged with interviewing each candidate, deliberating, and then recommending to the Town Committee which 3 of the 5 should be endorsed.

The importance of the nominating sub-committee cannot be over-stated, the Democratic Town Committee does not question its endorsements and typically votes unanimously for its entire recommended slate.

The leadership selects the nominating sub-committee from among the approximately 70 members of the Democratic Town Committee. This year about 50 of these members were not seeking endorsement by the nominating sub-committee. Some of these are elected officials whose terms are not up, but most of these 50 do not seek to be in elected office.

This year, the nominating subcommittee consisted of Dan Russo, Dan Pickett, and Rich Pelletier. Thus, one of the people seeking an endorsement served on the subcommittee that would decide who would get an endorsement.  Is there any more obvious a conflict of interest than for official Dan Russo to decide whether candidate Dan Russo should be endorsed? With such a large pool of Democrats not seeking an endorsement, why did the leadership of the Town Committee turn to Dan Russo? And why did Dan Russo not recognize the conflict?

Were City Democrats served by a fair and open process?

Candidates for Governance or for Electioneering?
Political groups such as the Democratic Town Committee want their loyal members elected, this is neither surprising nor controversial. In contrast, City residents, including Democrats, want their elected officials to have the experience and demonstrated commitment to govern effectively. In selecting candidates, the nominating subcommittee has a responsibility to Democrats and to the city to balance these two sometimes opposing interests.  

The nominating subcommittee did not live up to this responsibility when it endorsed candidates for Planning and Zoning.  Although every candidate necessarily has a large ego (each says "I know who you should vote for!"), I think it is safe to say that experience and a demonstrated commitment to Planning and Zoning did not play a significant role in choosing 3 nominees from the following 4 candidates.
  • Rob Blanchard.  He has never attended a P&Z meeting.
  • Stephen Devoto. I have attended 50 out of 64 P&Z meetings since November, 2009, and many in the 10 years before that. 
  • Dan Russo. He has attended 40 out of 64 P&Z meetings since being elected to the Commission in November, 2009.
  • Paul Turenne. He has never attended a P&Z meeting.
[Attendance at P&Z meetings is recorded in the minutes.  In my case, attendance is also documented by my public writing for The Middletown Eye community newsblog, I posted at least one article about each of the 50 meetings I attended. Blanchard and Turenne confirmed to me that they have never been to a P&Z meeting.]

Dan Russo, Rich Pelletier, and Dan Pickett decided that I was the worst of the four candidates for Planning and Zoning. Why?

The nominating committee spent most of my interview probing my commitment to electioneering for municipal Democrats, and was clearly dissatisfied with my answers to questions about loyalty to the nominating subcommittee's endorsements. Immediately after the interview Dan Pickett informed me that I had "hit it out of the park with Planning and Zoning," he did not need to say that I was weak in the electioneering and loyalty category.   

As the primary election draws closer, the leadership of the Democratic Town Committee has dropped any pretense that the election is about experience and commitment, the tag line for the 3 endorsed candidates is, "REAL DEMOCRATIC VALUES YOU CAN TRUST."

Although I appreciate the need that the Town Committee has for electioneering, if it is to remain credible with Democrats at large, it should also take governance into account when choosing nominees.

Another Ed4Ed!
Dan Russo asked me during the nominating subcommittee interview whether I would remain loyal to the other candidates if I was nominated, and he referred obliquely to someone with whom I was associated, who Russo felt was disloyal. When I said the name "Ed McKeon", Russo solemnly nodded.

This was not the first or last time that McKeon has been brought up as something that Democrats should avoid.  McKeon was nominated as a Democratic candidate for the Board of Education in 2011. The town committee cut him out of its campaign literature, because it felt McKeon was not loyal to all of the other candidates. Despite that, McKeon won election, garnering more votes than Drew or any other candidate except Gene Nocera.  Since then, he has been used as an example of the kind of person that should not be nominated.  I honestly do not get it. Why would the Democratic Party turn away a successful Democratic elected official? Why not take credit for him?

Mayor Drew highlights as one his biggest accomplishments the ending of lawsuits and the new spirit of cooperation between the city and the Board of Education.  McKeon is the Secretary of the Board, he has played a critical role in this. McKeon ran as a Democrat, won as a Democrat, and has governed with enormous effectiveness as a Democrat. Why would Dan Russo treat McKeon as the bogeyman (he who must not be named), and not as a prime example of his success in recruiting and electing individuals who have competence and commitment for governance? Is loyalty and electioneering the only thing of importance?

Democratic Pride
I am deeply committed to the values of social and economic justice, environmental protection, education, and peace between nations. At the national level, it is obvious that the Democratic Party aligns with my values. I am enormously proud to be a Democrat.

Since I am inextricably rooted in the Democratic party, I do not view the local Democrat Party as an abstract party of others, it is my party. That is no small part of why I chose to challenge the endorsed candidates for the Democratic nomination. I want voters in my party to have an opportunity to evaluate candidates on the basis of experience and commitment; my party's nominees should not be determined by the judgement of the small nominating subcommittee, based solely on loyalty and electioneering.  

I want my party, the Democrats, to have a nominating process that is fair and open.

I want my party, the Democrats, to put forth the three most qualified candidates in November. 

Serra Appointed Co-Chair Of Alzheimer's Task Force

From the State House Democrats.

House Speaker Brendan Sharkey (D-Hamden) is pleased to announce that he has appointed House Chair of the Aging Committee Representative Joe Serra (D-Middletown) to Co-Chair the Task Force on Alzheimer’s Disease and Dementia.

"Rep. Serra's experience as Co-chair of the legislature’s Aging Committee as well as his work leading the Aging in Place task force makes Joe the perfect choice for this important new assignment," Speaker Sharkey said. "Joe’s long tenure of working to improve the lives of seniors in Connecticut is well known, and I am confident he will take on this role with that same dedication."

Thursday, August 29, 2013

A Rose By Any Other Name


Stephen Devoto.
So, Stephen Devoto is a Republican.

That’s what Dan Russo says.

I should have suspected as much.

He has that Republican look.  You know, pony tail, plaid shirt, mustache, ankle-biter pant strap.  He needs that for commuting to work on his bike.  He farms organically on his little plot of land on the West Side of town, and is a bio prof at Wesleyan.  He doesn’t own a television.

Definitely Republican.

Anyway, that’s what Dan Russo says.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Charles Neville of the Neville Brothers - Jazz Weekend at The Buttonwood Tree

World-Class Jazz - right here in Middletown! What is it that brings such amazing talent to The Buttonwood Tree? It's the great acoustics, a casual and inviting atmosphere and congenial, attentive audiences, so say the performers. This weekend is a great time to see for yourself how good it sounds and how good it feels to relax at The Buttonwood Tree Performing Arts & Cultural Center while listening to fabulous music. Both Friday and Saturday nights offer jazz by professional, seasoned musicians who are on tour around the world.

Friday, Aug 30th - 8 pm - Avery Sharpe and Charles Neville "From New Orleans to New England"
Read more and reserve your seat here

Saturday, Aug 31- 8 pm - Yoron Israel with "High Standards" - featuring Yoron Israel (drums, percussion), Laszlo Gardony (piano), Lance Bryant (soprano & tenor sax) and Henry Lugo (bass)
Read more and reserve your seat here

Make your reservation online and save ... Come see for yourself how amazing the musicians are! 

 The Buttonwood Tree - 605 Main Street, Middletown, next to It's Only Natural market. 860-347-4957  Buttonwood website    Beverages and light refreshments available.  See more and listen:

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Summer Sounds on the South Green/Union Park - Elite Syncopation

A beautiful evening for an elegant concert on the South Green!
featuring Elite Syncopation

The Middletown Commission on the Arts presents their annual Summer Sounds concert series on the City's South Green (Union Park) on Tuesday evenings throughout the summer. (rain location is the sanctuary of South Congregational Church, directly across the street from the Green on the corner of Main & Pleasant Streets).

The concerts are free and you are encouraged to bring lawn chairs/blankets. Food and beverages (no alcohol is permitted on public lawns) are allowed and the United Methodist Church and South Congregational Church adjacent to the Green both sell food/beverage items.

Concerts begin at 7 p.m.

The schedule:
Aug. 27 - Elite Syncopation - ragtime/early jazz
Sept. 3 - Middletown Symphonic Band - popular tunes
Sept. 10 - Italian Night w/the Angelo Sapia Band

For more information, visit

Oddfellows Playhouse Announces 2013-14 Season

Oddfellows Playhouse is pleased to announce its 2013-14 Season for its Junior and Teen Repertory Company.  The first season under the guidance and direction of Artistic Director Kristen Palmer is filled with classics, family musicals and some new endeavors.

The season will begin with the Junior Repertory Company’s of The Seussification of Romeo and Juliet onstage November 14-16, 2013.

Help Make Middletown More Bike- and Pedestrian-Friendly

September 17, a.m. and p.m.

Middletown’s Complete Streets Committee is working to make our city’s streets safer and more “friendly” to all users – including walkers, cyclists, and users of public transportation.  For this purpose, we are organizing a “traffic count” event on September 17 to document the current number of motor vehicles or bicyclists and pedestrians at a few key locations. This documentation is required to secure funding for future projects.

We need volunteers who could spend 1 hour and 15 minutes, either near the Stop and Shop on Saybrook Road, or at Macdonough School. The task is to count (using a form and clipboard, provided) all cars, trucks, walkers, bicyclists who enter a specific intersection during the given time period.  2 volunteers will be at each location during each time slot -- 1 to count motor vehicles and 1 to count other users. 

To help, please call 860-398-3771 or visit to send us a message.

"The Man With X-Ray Eyes" Starring Ray Milland: Popcorn by The Colonel #59

When a Canadian relation came to visit, the question arose how to entertain him, and part of the answer was a road trip to The Book Barn in Niantic. A few purchases:

☻The Chicago Manual of Style, 14th edition
☻ Cicero: Murder Trials
☻ Mark Twain: Wit and Wisecracks

Middletown Riverfront Planning Workshop Dates

From the Department of Planning, Conservation and Development.
Save the date(s)!
Internationally recognized planning and design firm, Projects for Public Spaces, has been working with the City’s Riverfront Development Task Force to develop a Vision and Concept Plan for the area.

Public input is critical to the success of the project. Don’t miss this opportunity to share your ideas and help us build a vision for the Riverfront. We respect your time and promise a fast-paced, dynamic, participatory workshop. Bring your ideas and your walking shoes.

Refreshments will be provided.

Evening Workshop
Date : Thursday, September 26th, 2013
Time : 6 PM to 9 PM
Location : Common Council Chamber

and / or

Morning Workshop
Date : Saturday, September 28th, 2013
Time : 9 AM to 12 NOON
Location : Common Council Chamber

To help us prepare better to accommodate you, please RSVP with the date of the workshop you plan to attend at 860-638-4840 or

Find us on FACEBOOK at Riverfront Middletown Connecticut

Monday, August 26, 2013

New Changes for the 2013-14 School Year

School starts on Thursday, August 29th, and several changes are underway for the 2013-14 school year.  The most obvious change is the new start time (8:50 am) for the elementary schools.  School doors will open at 8:45 am and students arriving after 8:55 am will be marked tardy.

Breakfast in the Classroom is another new program aimed at providing every student the opportunity for a healthy breakfast each morning. Students will pick up their breakfast as they enter the classroom and eat it as the academic day begins.  Students qualifying for free or reduced lunch will also qualify for reduced fee or no fee breakfast.  A reduced fee breakfast will cost $.30 and a full priced breakfast will cost $1.00.  Macdonough, Bielefield, Wesley, Lawrence, and Farm Hill Schools will start the program on September 3rd.  Moody and Snow Schools will start November 4th, and Spencer School will start in January 2014.

Read Superintendent Charles' August 6th letter to Middletown families here for a complete explanation.

If you haven't read Middletown's Safe School Climate Plan (approved by the BOE on April 17, 2012), you can access that here.

Finally, if you have questions about the Common Core State Standards Initiative, specific information by grade level is available here.

Dingwall Memorial Blood Drive At Police HQ Friday

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Washington Street Serious Accident Injures 5

On August 24, 2013 at approximately 11:45 p.m. a serious motor vehicle accident occurred on Route 66 (Washington Street) at the intersection of Old Mill Road. Preliminary investigation reveals that a 2001 Chevrolet Silverado, operated by Holden Andeen, age 21, of Higganum, was traveling west on Route 66 and a 2002 Mitsubishi Gallant, operated by Joseph Durkin, age 19, of Middletown was traveling east on Route 66. The Mitsubishi crossed the centerline and into the path of the Chevrolet. The two vehicles collided head on and the Chevrolet subsequently rolled onto its passenger side. Andeen and a passenger, Cameron Bailey, age 21, of Haddam, were extricated from the Chevrolet by the Middletown Fire Department and transported to Hartford area hospitals via Hunter Ambulance Service for treatment of apparent serious injuries.

Durkin along with two passengers, Andre Bonvouloir, age 19, of Middletown, and Danielle Whalen, age 18, of Middletown, were extricated from the Mitsubishi by the Middletown Fire Department. Durkin and Whalen were transported to Hartford area hospitals via Hunter Ambulance Service for treatment of apparent serious injuries. Bonvouloir was transported to Hartford Hospital via Life Star Air Medical Helicopter for treatment of serious injuries.

Route 66 between Old Mill Road and Boston Road was closed for approximately six hours for the investigation and roadway clean up.

The accident is being investigated by the Middletown Police Traffic Accident Reconstruction Team. If anyone witnessed or has information about the accident is asked to contact Officer David Godwin at 860-638-4061.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Rock 'n Roll with The Two Virgins Tonight at The Buttonwood Tree

The Two Virgins band will take the stage and rock the house at The Buttonwood Tree tonight at 8 pm. Easy to find at 605 Main Street - next to It's Only Natural market in the former Arriwani Hotel. You never know who you'll meet at TBT, it's a fun place with a great vibe.
For more info, call 860-347-4957 or see
Two Virgins drum

Two Virgins’ band sound is decidedly rock and roll, with Americana and beat-era roots.

“Winding up our 4 venues in as many weeks New English Invasion of Middletown, we will be performing an intimate, full evening of original music. This show will be quite different then our sets the other night at Middletown’s Motorcycle Mania! Please make your calendars and come out to the show. We will look you in the eyes, enter your heart, and play a song just for you.” 
Bumpy Chimes of The Two Virgins

Two Virgins (Tom Wrann & Tom Mooney), are a songwriting and performing duo based in Thompsonville, CT, with over 400 original songs in their catalog. Wrann/Mooney have been together in many bands since the late 1970′s, including ‘Voice Of Amerika’, ‘The Bond’, and ‘El Trash Combo’, which have all been a part of the CT music scene. Tom Mooney has also written and performed with the famous NYC gospel group ‘Harold Williamson & The Wandering Souls’ as well as ‘The Run’, a well known new wave band also from NYC. Tom Wrann has been involved with a number of punk bands from CT including ‘Curly Jones & The Committed’, and Buck Nekid & The CT Blue Boys’.

Two Virgins’ band sound is decidedly rock and roll, with Americana and beat-era roots, showcasing the talents of close friends Jim Wrann on bass guitar, Tom Phelps on keyboards and rhythm guitar, and Bumpy Chimes on lead guitar. Tom & Tom also play out occasionally somewhat more acoustically as a duo, with a conga-driven sound they like to describe as ‘Powerfolk’. The Buttonwood Tree show on Saturday, August 24th will be an eclectic blend of both sides of the Two Virgins sound.

Two Virgins thank you for staying in touch with them through their Facebook page for art, music, and goings on.

Two Virgins’ Facebook Page:
Two Virgins’ online store:

Friday, August 23, 2013

Eric Kuhn Group at Canoe Club, 6pm Sun Aug 25

Eric Kuhn Group with Anitra Brooks (vocals), Bruce Elder (guitar), Eric Kuhn (vocals, bass), Tim Gaylord (drums), Joseph Getter (sax), David Rintoul (trombone), Lars Selberg (keys), Kate Ten Eyck (trumpet).

It's the end of the summer as we know it! Come and compare sunburns and moan about going back to work! Or never having left in the first place! Or anything else: the bartender totally wants to know all about it.

The Mattabessett Canoe Club

80 Harbor Drive
Middletown, CT 06457

Sunday, August 25. Starts at 6pm.

No cover. On the deck weather permitting, inside in case of rain. 

More info on the music:
(photos: Bumpy Chimes)

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Friend of the Library Book Sale

The Wadsworth Mansion Open Air Market and Festival
August 25, 2013 (the weather forecast is fantastic -  Sunny and 80 degrees)
10:00am - 4:00pm

Come by our booth and learn more about the Russell Library and the Friends.

The Friends of Russell Library will be selling their best, most recently published (2011-present) fiction and non-fiction books on a wide range of subjects such as art, sports, cooking, history, home and hobbies, science and nature, and travel.  All books are great bargains, priced to sell and in excellent condition.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Board of Education Delights in Bielefield Test Scores

Last night's regular Board of Education meeting opened with a somber moment of silence honoring former MHS football coach John Skubel (passed on 8/17) and Veteran and Children's Advocate Lee B. Smith (passed on 8/16).

The BOE then amended the agenda to move up a vote authorizing the Superintendent to work with the city to create a new full-time Nursing Supervisor position.  "We are seeing children with complex medical conditions and needs, and we must have someone that our nurses can come to with questions," noted Ann Perzan.  Perzan is the Director of Special Education, but the school nurse program is housed in her department.  Perzan also noted that school nurses are not currently given performance reviews because there isn't someone with greater clinical skills in the administrative chain.  Substitute nurses are also hard to find because many qualified individuals won't work if there isn't a Nurse Supervisor in place.  Superintendent Charles was authorized to work with the city to create the new position, and there will be no cost for the position as current Special Education funds will be repurposed to cover the position (the previous purpose for those funds ended in June).

Bielefield Elementary School then took center stage as the surprise star of the 2012-13 CMT test results.  Designated a "focus school" because of struggling sub-groups' performance on the 2011-12 Connecticut Mastery Test (CMT), Bielefield instituted an after-school study program during the 2012-13 school year, aimed specifically at helping Hispanic students who struggle with English.  Assistant Superintendent Enza Macri had told the BOE earlier in the year that students who have been in the U.S. for six months have to take the CMT in English, even if they are not proficient speakers.  As administrators tried to determine why the Hispanic sub-group was struggling, parents explained that it was hard to help their students with homework when they struggled with English themselves.

Katchen Coley, 1924 - 2013

From Coley's daughters.
Katharine Truman Smith Coley, 89, died on August 19, 2013 of pancreatic cancer at her Middletown, Connecticut home, surrounded by friends and family during her last few months. Coley was an ardent conservationist, co-founder of The Connection, one of Connecticut’s most successful social-service agencies, and the former wife of William Coley, Wesleyan University Professor Emeritus in English. Kätchen, as she was known, was also the mother of daughters Phyllis (Lissy) Dewing Coley, Professor of Biology, University of Utah and Katharine (Kitty) Lancaster Coley, Geologist and Naturalist, Austin Texas.

Coley’s father, Colonel Truman Smith, was a distinguished and lifelong military officer, a decorated veteran of WWI, and later a military attaché to Germany in the years leading up to World War II. His wife, Katharine (Kay) Alling Hollister Smith was both an active partner and confidant throughout their marriage, and a distinguished and intelligent woman in her own right.

Kätchen was born on May 15, 1924, in New York, where her mother had returned from Germany after the Smith’s first posting there. Kätchen was educated in her early life at U.S Army public schools during her parent’s peripatetic stationing in America between the wars.

In 1935, the Smith family moved back to Berlin, where Kätchen was educated privately, and at German and Swiss schools. Her father’s significant role in the appraisal of Germany’s intentions and capabilities ended at the beginning of hostilities in 1939, when he was assigned to head German Intelligence in Washington DC. There, Kätchen attended The Master’s School in Dobb’s Ferry, New York, and then Smith College, where she graduated in 1944.

Kätchen’s early career was as a reporter and later a columnist for The Washington Times-Herald. She then moved to New York in public relations at the United Nations International Children’s Fund (UNICEF), where she was instrumental in starting the UNICEF Christmas cards and Trick or Treat for UNICEF.

Marriage to William Coley brought the couple to Wesleyan University in Middletown, CT in 1952, where he was a professor. The subsequent birth of two daughters began both a family and a pair of lifelong relationships of mutual respect and admiration. While her daughters were still young, she received a M.A in psychology at Wesleyan (1963) for her research on Navajo tribal government and then taught anthropology at Middlesex Community College.

Kätchen begin volunteering at Connecticut Valley Hospital, where her experiences with young heroin addicts would lead to the founding of The Connection, in 1972, with late friend Nancy Flanner. A small initial program of counseling and support has become a statewide, multi-million dollar social service agency, on whose board Coley remained for 41 years.

Coley’s outgoing nature, instinctive generosity and leadership also led her to begin, with other parents, The Independent Day School in Middlefield, Conn.

A long and distinguished career of environmental activism followed, one that would bring her to Washington to lobby Senators and Congressmen, to join with numerous Connecticut-based organizations as an environmental advocate, and to participate in the preservation of large swaths of open space in Middletown and elsewhere. She, along with others, spearheaded the preservation of the Wadsworth Mansion at Long Hill Estate, a Middletown landmark, and served on its Parkland Committee. She had an active role as conservation chair of the Middletown Garden Club, and served on the Middletown Conservation Commission, and the Steering Committee of the Connecticut Land Conservation Council.

Few have made such fundamental and sweeping contributions or have touched as many lives as has Kätchen. To honor her and keep some of her dreams alive, we have established two funds. In the last few decades Kätchen has worked tirelessly to preserve local landscapes rich with beauty, history and time. Thus the Kätchen Coley Conservation Fund has been created for the preservation and enhancement of open space in Middletown and adjacent towns. (Please make checks payable to CFMC - Katchen Coley Conservation Fund, Community Foundation of Middlesex County, 211 South Main Street, Middletown, CT 06457). Kätchen also believed that many people, although currently struggling, could be valued members of society if only given a second chance. So, in tribute to her extraordinary vision in co-establishing The Connection in 1972, the Kätchen Coley Society has been established to give successful participants a hand up (please make checks payble to The Connection Fund, c/o Kätchen Coley Society,100 Roscommon Drive, Middletown, CT, 06457).

A service to celebrate her extraordinary life will be held at a later date and announcements will be sent out.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Summer Sounds on the South Green/Union Park - Sambaleza

Sambaleza - Brazilian Jazz!

The Middletown Commission on the Arts presents their annual Summer Sounds concert series on the City's South Green (Union Park) on Tuesday evenings throughout the summer. (rain location is the sanctuary of South Congregational Church, directly across the street from the Green on the corner of Main & Pleasant Streets).

The concerts are free and you are encouraged to bring lawn chairs/blankets. Food and beverages (no alcohol is permitted on public lawns) are allowed and the United Methodist Church and occasional vendors adjacent to the Green sell food/beverage items.

Concerts begin at 7 p.m.

The schedule:
Aug. 20 - Sambaleza - brazilian jazz
Aug. 27 - Elite Syncopation - ragtime/early jazz
Sept. 3 - Middletown Symphonic Band - popular tunes
Sept. 10 - Italian Night w/the Angelo Sapia Band

For more information, call the City Arts Office at 860.638.4510, or better yet, visit

Unpopped! and O Negative is the Universal Donor: Both in One Column for the First Time -- Popcorn by The Colonel #58

Introduction: When you eat a whole bowl of popcorn, there are always unpopped kernels left at the bottom. This is that bowl of kernels. Enjoy!

Some people would rather talk about their faults, flaws, and follies than stop talking about their dear selves. (Credit: Joe Addison)

In the U.S., we mean more by "democracy" than high-turnout elections, Soviet-style. But we have poorly articulated what that "more" is. We need to do better.

The history of typography in five minutes of stop action may be seen here.

Here's a woman (Barbara Lynn) in charge of a band before Janis Joplin and Gracie Slick. Also, notice that she plays her guitar left-handed. We like this performance of this song a lot.

Is there anything perennially cooler than Booker T and the MGs doing "Green Onions"?

What does it mean that "Just as it is possible to be above flattery, it is possible to be below flattery"? Minor research reveals the following ingenious answer: one who distrusts everyone necessarily distrusts sycophants.

English in America is growing more diverse, not less. Regional dialects are flourishing alongside standard English, and Americans are becoming something like bilingual. They speak two Englishes.

Many words of Indo-European origin that existed in Old English (Anglo-Saxon) dropped out of the language as it evolved into Middle English and Modern English. The loss has been more than made up by the flood of foreign words of Indo-European origin that poured into English during the same period. As a result, English is the most Indo-European of living languages.

Can you picture all of the following nine colors? Verdigris;  titian; bisque; puce; cattleya; smalt; damask; jasper; and bittersweet. If you can, you're one in vermillion.

"Snowbroth" means "melted snow."

"Anatopism" (a thing out of place) is the geographical equivalent of "anachronism." Imagine the movie "High Noon" but with every building a pagoda. The word is pronounced a-NAT-o-pism. Inflected forms: anatopismatic, anatopistic, anatopic. See also parachronism, paratopism, and The Plasmatics.

If your child is using an outdoor voice indoors, you could yell, "Enough already with the anatopism, Teknon!" This will help build your child's vocabulary. It also assumes your child's name is Teknon, which may not be the case. No need to rename your child; simply substitute your child's name for "Teknon" in the example given.

Children need encouragement. If your child gives a correct answer to a question, tell him it was a lucky guess, so he'll have a good, lucky feeling.

Having twins is getting more common. Wills and Kate were thinking of having Royal Twins instead of The Royal Baby, but decided it would be too common. The twins, if both boys, would have been George Alexander Louis ("Jeb") and George Louis Alexander ("Dubya"). If a boy and a girl, the girl would have been Georgia Alexandra Louisa ("Sparky"). If two girls, the second was to have been Georgia Louisa Alexandra ("Saxegotha"). According to a palace namer of names, who spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of copyright infringement, they "tried Peggy Sue, tried Betty Lou, tried Mary Lou, but they knew they wouldn't do," so Georgie it is.

To deflect innuendos of nonstandard substance use, we urge you not to go here and not to start scrolling down once you get there.

In Scotland, two tongues in addition to Modern English are spoken. One they call "Gallic" and it's Scottish Gaelic, a non-Germanic language. The other is "Scots," which, like Modern English, is a descendant of Middle English. Scots is more like English than Gallic is. How different are "lake" and (Scots) "loch"?

"You can tell a clever man from his answers and a wise one from his questions."

"Don't cross the street in the middle in the middle in the middle in the middle in the middle of the block. Teach your eyes to look out, teach your ears to hear, walk up to the corner where the coast is clear. And wait, and wait, and wait until the light turns green."

Announcer: "The Adventures of Superman" -- Faster than a speeding bullet! More powerful than a locomotive! Able to leap tall buildings in a single bound!

Voices: Look! Up in the sky! It's a bird! It's a plane! It's Superman!

Announcer: Yes, it's Superman -- strange visitor from another planet who came to Earth with powers and abilities far beyond those of mortal men. Superman, who can change the course of mighty rivers, bend steel in his bare hands, and who, disguised as Clark Kent, mild-mannered reporter for a great metropolitan legacy medium, fights a never-ending battle for truth, justice, and the American Way! And now, another episode in the exciting Adventures of Superman.

I dreamed I saw Jor-El last night/ Alive as you or me/ Jor-El, I said, Krypton's long years dead/ It never died, said he/ Looking green as green can be/ Yes, very Kryptony.

"Beer is the reason we get up every afternoon." --Queen Victoria (attributed)

"Some mornings, it's just not worth chewing through the leather straps." --Emo Phillips

I dreamed I called Joe Flood last night/ Telephonically/ But Joe, I said, you're darn well fed/ "Niagara Falls," said he/ And I just let him be.

Are you still sad because Menudo broke up? This ditty, from the University of Australia Department of Philosophy, will cheer you right up:

Immanuel Kant was a real pissant
Who was very rarely stable
Heidegger, Heidegger was a boozy beggar
Who could think you under the table

David Hume could out-consume
Schopenhauer and Hegel,
And Wittgenstein was a beery swine
Who was just as schloshed as Schlegel.

There's nothing Nietzsche couldn't teach ya'
'Bout the raising of the wrist.
Socrates himself was permanently pissed.

John Stuart Mill of his own free will
On a half a pint of shandy was particularly ill.

Plato, they say, could stick it away,
Half a crate of whiskey every day.

Aristotle, Aristotle was a bugger for the bottle,
Hobbes was fond of his dram,
And Rene Descartes was a drunken fart:
"I drink, therefore I am."

Yes, Socrates himself is particularly missed--
A lovely little thinker but a bugger when he's pissed.

"We damn well better win this war, because if we don't we're going to be hanged as war criminals." --Gen. Curtis LeMay, referring to conventional firebombing of wooden Japanese cities in World War II.

Assume the physician. (A mysterious remark of unknown meaning and provenance.)

"The crows keep calling my name," thought Caw.

"The owls keep calling my name," thought Hu.

"The frogs keep calling my name," thought Ribbet.

Do you hear voices? If not, perhaps you should have your hearing checked.

Does the Navy still call helicopters "whirlybirds," or has it bent its knee to the Army and adopted the name "choppers"?

☻ "Don't worry about people stealing an idea. If it's original, you will have to ram it down their throats." --Howard Aiken, U.S. computer scientist (1900-1973)

☻ "Oh, blinding light/ Oh, light that blinds/ I cannot see/ Watch out for me!" --Firesign Theater

"Rhabdomancy is conjuring with wands. "Rhabd-" is the Greek stem for "stick," the same stem we see in the name of the dread botanical disease "rhabdocline needlecast."

Believe It or Not: A degree in necromancy (the art or practice of conjuring up the souls of the dead) is not a formal job requirement for Chicago Registrar of Voters.

How many is a Brazilian?

Yet another link: Cat on a Hot Tin Roomba