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Against punishment for punishment's sake

Zachary Stein is a 24-year-old lifeguard whose negligence nearly cost the life of a 5-year-old boy when the boy narrowly escaped drowning in a Chelsea Piers pool. Thankfully, the boy escaped unharmed after Stein belatedly rescued him. Both Stein and the boy's family support Stein's entry into a probation program, which allows him to avoid jail time or other punishment in exchange for Stein agreeing to refrain from serving as a lifeguard for the probationary period. So, why does Stamford State's Attorney Richard Colangelo oppose a resolution that the victim's family itself supports? Or, to restate the question, what societal purpose is served by further punishing (and possibly imprisoning;

Why doesn't SPS teach AP Macroeconomics?

May 19 brings the first day following AP Exams for many Stamford Public School juniors and seniors (and a few ambitious underclassmen as well). But there's one exam almost none of them will be relieved to put behind them: AP Macroeconomics. According to a September 2017 memo to superintendent Earl Kim, over 85% of all SPS students taking the AP Microeconomics Exam achieved a score of 3 ("qualified") or higher in 2017. But only 4 students even attempted the AP Macroeconomics Exam (I assume they studied for it on their own time). When I took AP Micro at Westhill in 2008, the course lasted the full year. Many schools in other districts teach a semester each of Macro and Micro, providing stu

Should the Zoning Board be democratically elected?

I'm undecided. On one hand, we do elect the Mayor who appoints its members, so the people do have an indirect say in how they would like the Board to be constituted. And democratic unaccountability is theoretically useful in pursuing the greater good over parochial interests (see, e.g., the New Deal justification for the federal administrative apparatchik). On the other hand, the Zoning Board makes decisions on issues that have a tremendous impact on the quality of life of Stamford residents--in many cases more impactful than decisions of the Board of Finance or Education. Just this week, the Zoning Board has approved the demolition of the giant cylindrical tower across from the governmen

Democrats against Mayor Martin (and, an explanation of how our elected officials create the budget)

If you've ever seen a Schoolhouse Rock video, you know a bill becomes a law after both houses of Congress vote to approve it, and the president signs it into law. Or, if the president vetoes the bill, Congress can override a veto with a two-thirds majority vote in each house. That's not how it works in municipal government. Stamford's Budget Process The process by which Stamford drafts and enacts its budget follows a significantly different process (the city ordinance with the original text, Secs. C8-20-1–11 & C8-30-1–14, can be found here): First, the head of each city department submits its budget request to the Mayor. These requests include both (1) operating expenses (i.e., the funds u

Board of Representatives contemplates new way to inconvenience residents

Soon, it may be legal to purchase medical marijuana in Stamford, but illegal to leave the dispensary with your paraphernalia in a plastic bag. We live in incredible times. Plastic bags are more convenient for carrying groceries and other routine purchases. Anyone who's ever had a flimsy paper bag handle break on the way to the parking lot knows as much. They also are worse for the environment (although how much worse is unclear--if the city's recycling vendor stops accepting plastic bags, presumably they will be deposited in a garbage landfill as is ordinary refuse). So why the focus on plastic bags? "Members of the [Stamford Harbor Management Commission] have said they are concerned abo

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