Monday, April 15, 2013

What are we doing?

With utter dismay I see that people are being maimed and killed by people again - now in Boston, at an event that should be a celebration of our humanity.

The sequence of events that I expect to see unfold has already begun and that scares me more than the bombs and the guns.

First, on social media, we see our initial reactions to the tragedy. We respond with horror and disbelief. We tell the victims that our hearts go out to them, that we are praying for them, that we are so sorry for what they've had to endure.

In a few days will come the candlelight vigils, prayer meetings, and gifts.

Then we'll have fundraisers so we can send them money.

We may even have a law or two enacted that deals with some aspect of the disaster - maybe they will outlaw waste receptacles on public streets because bombs can be hidden in them.

While I don't doubt, for even a second, the sincerity of our responses, I have to ask - what are we doing? Is this our best effort? Are we doing these things to make the victims feel better or to make ourselves feel better?

What if this had happened in Derby on our own Greenway during an event? What would you want to see happen afterwards?

There is a place for kindness and support, and resources are required to help those that have been subjected to such horrible damage, but that is not the solution to the problem. We must do more. We have to do more. Frankly, I'm frightened, aren't you?

Friday, January 11, 2013

Clearly Not

The 2013 municipal elections seem to be starting extra early in Derby - it's going to be a long year.

Judy Szewczyk (aka me) is the campaign manager for Mayor Staffieri who will be running in November for his 5th term. Judy Szewczyk (aka me) is also the creator/admin of Clearly Derby.

Clearly Derby will not get involved in the election or endorse any candidate(s). Clearly Derby does not have a side.

Judy Szewczyk (aka me) does have a very definite side and will be very involved in the campaign. I will fight for my candidate in every possible legal and moral way. I will sometimes be sarcastic and snide but I won't lie or cheat - not for the Mayor or anyone else.

I hope my wonderful peeps - who represent all sides of the political spectrum - will be understanding and patient for the next 11 months. I will try my best to do right by you and right by Derby and not drag Clearly Derby into the political mud.

Regarding the election - may the best man or woman win!

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

They Will Kill

Caleb Grotberg is being sought by Portland, Oregon police in connection with the attempted murder of his girlfriend. He tried to strangle her with one of his dreadlocks. This is a great example of why guns are not our only problem.

Too many people believe that gun control is the most effective way to safeguard our precious children. I believe that the people who pin all of their hopes on gun control are naive.

We've all been so angry at some point that we've wanted to kill someone but of course we didn't carry it out. We have something inside us, let's call it humanity, that stops us. We may scream, curse, and throw things, but we stop short of killing.

Killers obviously don't have that something inside them, that humanity. They are out of control or mentally ill. They will kill. They don't need to be given an opportunity or a handy weapon. They will kill.

The only way one can stop a person, who is intent on killing, is by either locking them up, medicating them, or killing them first.

What scares me is that we are wasting a lot of time and effort fighting over gun control, which is already heavily legislated, when we should be concentrating on the detection and management of persons who will kill. They are killers. They will kill.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

The Experiment is Over

That's right - CD (Clearly Derby) is done with government. When CD was started 1 year ago our purpose was to test the following hypothesis: If citizens are provided with easier access to local government then they will participate more in local government.

My answer to the above question is NO. Granted CD was small and we only did this for a year but I still failed to see any correlation between availability and interest. There were a few flickers, here and there, but not enough to warrant another year of testing IMO.

However, I do see a lot of interest on the part of Derbyites, and others in the Valley, to socialize and help each other out. I love doing my facebook page, and I've grown very fond of all the peeps, so I am going to convert Clearly Derby, using the same name, into something different. I've looked at everything else out there and feel that there is already plenty of coverage for the news and general social interactions such as charity events and parades. We also have many talented photographers that provide us with beautiful images of our Valley, all the time.

So, I'm picking people! I'm going to model CD after People magazine and I will thoroughly 'examine' the people of Derby - all of them - the good and the bad, old and young, native and newcomer, alive and dead, Italian, Polish, Irish, and Latino.

This will be generally fact-based but I will be throwing in some innuendo and a little gossip here and there too.

Oh, and we'll still have our games and our prizes. In fact, I'm going to be adding some new ones too.

From now until January 1st I'm going to be a slouch. I'll do the contest on Monday and do the occasional post - but not the whole enchilada yet. I need a break!

Love you all!

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Bread and Honey

Emotionally, holidays are a difficult, weird time for people - yet they make us whole.

I really enjoy performing the ritual tasks of getting ready for Thanksgiving and Christmas - shopping, and cleaning, and cooking; they make me feel grounded.

Each year I send my husband out on Thanksgiving morning to buy bread for our big meal. He can never remember which bread to get. So yesterday when I did my shopping I found the bread that I like and I took a picture of it with my iPhone. Voila - it's this bread, dear! That should make the Day go a little smoother.

But just as I'm feeling all perky and ready to kick some housecleaning butt ... I get a call from our doctor's receptionist. She yells into the phone at me ... "Barbara, honey, you have an appointment tomorrow at 9:45!!!!". I swear she sounds just like Wolowitz's mother on Big Bang Theory.

I take a deep breath and explain that I'm not Barbara, I'm definitely not her honey, and I have no appointment tomorrow. This doesn't faze her at all ... "Honey, I have you down for tomorrow". I see that I need to be a little more direct. "NO!!!". Now I get, "Honey, calm down!". I finally am able to get her to check her calendar and see that I'm not Barbara and my husband has an appointment tomorrow, not me.

I'm going to go mop the kitchen floor.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

The Ghost Towers in Our Hearts

When I visited Franklin Court in Philadelphia, several years ago, I was struck by the power a silhouette can have over us.

Benjamin Franklin's home was destroyed by fire in 1812. In 1976, for our nation's bicentennial, they wanted to reconstruct the house in honor of Franklin but they only knew that it was a 3-story, 10-room building, its approximate size, and where it once stood. So the renowned architect, Robert Venturi, designed a "Ghost Structure" to stand where the house had been and to represent it. It is truly beautiful and powerful.

Since 9/11 there have been many things to represent our extreme sadness and horror surrounding that terrible day. We have many wonderful pictures of the ruins right after the attack and the brave men and women working there. We've had the beautiful beams of light shooting up where the towers once stood - in their own right a stirring silhouette. Now we have the new memorial.

They say if you lose your true love then your heart is changed, forever. For those of us who were alive on 9/11 and were paying attention, our hearts have been changed forever too - we now have a Ghost Structure - 2 towers - superimposed on our hearts. I think that is the way it should be.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

What I said.

I was recently quoted in the article, "Valley tax scandals in spotlight; thefts, improprieties in towns breed mistrust", that was published in the New Haven Register on Sept 2. The Register quoted me correctly and used my quote appropriately but I still felt a pang because the need for editing, by any newspaper, waters down one's thoughts. Below are the 4 questions from the New Haven Register together with my unedited answers:

Q1. What do you think can be done to prevent anything like this from happening again?

Ans: For prevention we need to review our outstanding audit findings (and every city and town has outstanding findings) and shore up any holes.

Q2. How have these scandals affected the reputation of your town/city?

Ans: I don’t think it has affected any single town’s reputation but it has eroded trust, even more, in the local government system, deserved or not.

Q3. As a taxpayer, do you feel betrayed by these events, and have you lost faith in the people entrusted to handle your taxes?

Ans: I don’t feel betrayed and I haven’t lost the faith because I know that the people entrusted to handle our taxes are, for the most part, hardworking honest people.

Q4. How rare do you think something like is, espcecially effecting three (actually, four Valley towns with Oxford) almost hitting at the same time?

Ans: It’s not a coincidence that it hit us all at the same time. Oxford’s problem came out first with their Tax Collector and that caused all of the other towns, and some of the local newspapers, to take a closer look at their own operations, and so the dominoes started to fall. It’s human nature ... we get complacent, things start going awry, we notice it, we look around and find other related issues, we fix it, and we start all over again.