Sunday, November 3, 2019
The Presidential campaign was capped by only one debate between the two candidates. Many polls showed a dead heat between the two Presidential candidates. During that debate, Republican Ronald Reagan sealed the fate of that election and the future of Jimmy Carter with one simple question to voters.
Reagan asked "are you better off than you were four years ago?" That was all it took.
Hopefully this Tuesday as Registered voters in Hartford prepare to vote, they can ask themselves the same question.
Are our streets any better than four years ago as Luke Bronin promised they would be? Definitely not. Hartford repair garages and body shops are still reaping the benefits of our streets every
time they re-align another front end victimized by our canyon sized potholes.
Resurfacing City streets this summer was almost nonexistent with the exceptions of a handful of streets, far short of the milling and paving we usually see every summer-
Is trash on our streets and bulky waste piled at the curbs any better, as Candidate Bronin had promised in 2015? Nope. The rats love the furniture and mattresses thrown at the curbs, they make for some great rat harborages. The overflowing dumpsters that are never inspected or cited at many apartment complexes and businesses are loved by the rats also, it grows their families big and strong.
And I think the rat inspectors and additional housing inspectors we keep hearing are coming must have gotten lost or are broken down after hitting a pothole.
Do you feel safer in your neighborhoods than you were four years ago when Pedro Segarra was leaving Office and as Candidate Bronin promised? The reality is you are not any safer. As of today, Hartford's homicide rate is 67% ahead of 2017, and the year still has a ways to go, so we can add more. Shootings are almost an every day occurrence. Shots fired from illegal gun activity are almost an hourly occurrence and two more people were shot on the streets of Hartford last night.
Our schools are still a mess, even though the Mayor appoints the Majority of the Board of Education , He often ducks the issue of failing schools by saying he has no control over the BOE. Isn't that convenient.
Hartford's finances are still a mess despite the State of Connecticut bailout. Actually, Bronin tries to make it sound like he did a great job of arm twisting at the Capitol to get the bailout. What he should be calling it is the first installment on the past due bill the State owes us for underpaid P.I.L.O.T. funds. But chances are good we will be revisiting this issue in a couple years, probably before the term of the next Mayor ends.
And that basaball stadium deal? Yes, it opened but it is still a drain of $5 to 6 Million dollars a year on the City budget for debt service payments.
Is the toxic environment of City employment gotten any better in the last four years? Definitely not. Instances of attempted suicides, actual suicides , numerous CHRO complaints filed against the Police Department and other City Departments are keeping some politically connected law firms profitable at the taxpayers expense. All due to mismanagement and lack of leadership or accountability by Bronin Department heads.. So no, that is no better than it was four years ago.
Those are probably enough examples to get you to honestly answer President Reagan's question as it pertains to Hartford.
But as you prepare to fill in that little bubble on your ballot, also keep in mind the general version of "insanity". Insanity is doing the same old thing and expecting a different result. I know Tuesday I am unwilling to settle for insanity, if we are honest with ourselves and really do care about the City many of us claim to love.
Monday, October 28, 2019
Saturday, October 26, 2019
He wasn't "unavailable" then
Lets do a quick flashback for a second to 2015. That is the year Luke Bronin showed up on the scene to challenge Mayor Pedro Segarra. Most people in Hartford had never heard of Luke Bronin and most would never recognize him, but Bronin proved you could buy an awful lot with a million dollars. You could buy both name recognition and the Hartford Mayor's Office.
Now Pedro Segarra was a nice guy, but a terrible Mayor. I think many people, A/K/A Hartford's political insiders figured out quickly Segarra was more of a Social worker than a solid leader and they were able to steamroll him for their own needs and Segarra produced lackluster results.
Bronin's arrival on the political scene coincided with a very violent pre-election summer. Bronin quickly capitalized on that violence and made political hay from the dead bodies piling up due to gunfire and violence.Segarra was slow to make changes, especially in the Hartford Police Department. HPD was without a permanent Chief at the time. Segarra wasted months selecting a Chief and at one point he conducted an expensive national search spending upwards of $75,000 only to appoint Chief Jim Rovella as the right choice for Hartford's Police Chief.( Not only the right choice, but a great choice)
Bronin capitalized on all of that, especially the dead bodies of homicide victims, making it point to have the Television cameras in tow as he went to vigils and visited the survivors homes of the homicide victims. It worked, he promised to make Hartford a safer City and he was elected as Mayor. And it only cost a little over a million dollars.
I remember the day Bronin showed at at a playground on Cornwall street to use the prop of a deadbody lying on a basketball court, the man shot in the head during a basketball tournament, to capitalize on the corpse 50 yards away to convince us why we needed change and oust Segarra. What has changed except the Mayors ? Let me answer my own question...nothing
But, as Eddie Perez's corruption trial revealed the "Gospel of Perez", the felonious Mayor's staff had put together a PowerPoint display to build Eddie's little corrupt empire, or so he hoped. One of the slides stated "Voters in Hartford have very short memories". That is never truer than right now.
I was disgusted yesterday by media accounts that when they tried to approach Luke Bronin for comment on Thursdays street shootout and the killing of 71 year old Grandmother Yvonne Smith, Bronin was conveniently "unavailable" Of course he was unavailable he doesn't want to have to answer for his "efforts" or more appropriately his failures and broken promises.
He doesn't want to have to answer for his revolving door of Department Heads at City Hall and the lack of stability in his Administration. The only Department head who has remained I believe is Fire Chief Reggie Freeman. All other Departments have numerous turnover in Department Heads, including HPD. DPW went without a permanent head for months, actually well over a year, because Bronin was able to use the Fire Chief as an acting DPW Director Luckily Freeman was able to do both , and surprisingly both Departments functioned well, no thanks to Bronin. MHIS, the City's IT Department has been without a permanent director for years. It is only the City's computers and technology, why should we be concerned about that being managed properly by a permanent Department head?
I think Luke Bronin has a higher turnover rate in his Administration than the Trump Administration, seriously.
It is only the City's computers and technology, why should we be concerned about that being managed properly?
And while Bronin was "unavailable" for comment on the violence this week, his Police Chief was lounging in Chicago at a conference. As the Mayor of a violent City that just experienced a tragedy and several shootings in a 24 hour period, I would think if I was in Bronin's position I would see the value in telling my Police Chief, his presence in the City to maintain calm and hopefully instill confidence and leadership was more important than hobnobbing in Chicago with other Police Chiefs.
But that would take leadership on Bronin's part,
And I am not sure anyone should believe Bronin's promises that if elected he will serve out the full 4 years of his second term. This is the same guy that was willing to take almost a year off from his full time job as Hartford's elected Mayor to zig-zag across the State in his failed bid to be Connecticut's Governor. How much could have been accomplished during that year if actually focused on the job the taxpayers were paying him to perform. Did he ever offer to give back the salary for the time he was being paid to run Hartford and he wasn't? I never heard that offer being mad.
Does anyone really believe that if John Larson or (oh please God please) Richard Blumenthal announced their retirements next spring that Luke Bronin wouldn't be the first one in line to get those positions., despite his promise to the people of Hartford.
Hell, Luke Bronin can't even tell us the truth about where he is living now, why should we believe anything he says.
Enough is enough, as a City we deserve so much better and not be accepting the highest bidder for our voting rights.
Friday, October 25, 2019
I normally don't do this, but this vigil is of special importane due to the nature of this senseless act and the purely innocent victim who died. Please attend if you can to shpw support for Yvonne's family and as a community to let our Mayor and Councilpeople that we are fed up with the nonsense on our streets
Mothers United Against Violence will conduct a Candlelight Vigil on Saturday, October 26th, at 4:00 pm, at Garden & Nelson Streets, Hartford, where the life of Yvonne Smith, 71, was taken by being hit by a car driven by a youth fleeing a gun fight in the streets.
For the family, this is a loss like the loss of the life of any family member.
Yvonne has been recognized by many as "a guardian of the neighborhood" and spent most of her life in Hartford and never wanted to be anywhere else. So for her, the family is asking for help to make the streets safer.
All who want to do that should feel welcomed to be part of the human presence trying to bring calm to the community and be strengthened by taking part in this vigil.
I have never met Agostino, but I was aware of who he was due to an Internal Affairs investigation regarding him from several years ago. That may have been a bad start when I began hearing he was the officer who first arrived on Westland Street yesterday to an active shooter scene.
Agostino asked if he could talk to me and address his response. Since I( am still trying to unravel the situation in my own mind, combined with the numerous phone calls I have received with all of the different theories and scenarios as to how it should have been handled in a perfect situation.
The problem is nothing about yesterdays incident was routine or complying with any Academy role playing scenario.
Agostino seemed to be troubled by all of the events, but then again, who wouldn't be. He said he hadn't been able to get much sleep last night as the slow motion events kept playing over in his mind.
Agostino described it as the "perfect storm" for chaos. He heard the shots fired call, responded to the area and as he turned onto Westland street he saw two SUV's racing directly toward him. He said the front seat occupants of one car were wearing masks and one of the SUV's threw that car into reverse to elude him and backed up Westland Street. The scene was unraveling in split second timing at that point and Agostino was trying to comprehend everything in the greater picture and making sense of a senseless situation.
Agostino , driving forward up Westland St. was pursing the second shooting vehicle as it backed up the street quickly. At about the time he saw the grey car at the curb with two more shooters taking aim at the fleeing SUV. In a split second he saw the subsequent victim, later identified as Yvonne Smith, entering the street into the path of the fleeing car.
He explained the couple of seconds we can see in the video where he is stationary alongside the standing shooters. At that moment the fleeing vehicle hit Yvonne Smith and propelled her body into the air and through the intersection .Agostino recalls quickly looking from the flying body to the shooters along side him, trying to process what to do next. A situation hopefully none of us are ever in and having to witness and make those decisions and hopefully none of our trained police officer's have to either.
I know it is easy to criticize Agostino's actions, I did it myself. I am not sure even a computer or the best trained Police Officer could process the events that quickly and make the perfect decision. I had the video on a computer screen and it took me several views to make sense of the silver vehicle by the curb and the two occupants going into their shooting stances and figuring all the threats out. Imagine a Police officer coming upon a wildly confusing situation unwinding in real time before your eyes and trying to control that situation perfectly while analyzing everything happening, trying to chase the suspects, not crash your cruiser, not get yourself shot and if you return fire not to injure any innocent bystanders out in the area. As you human brain is processing all of that information , you see a body hurled into the air by the fleeing car.
I am not sure even the fastest computer could analyze all of that information and come up with a perfect scenario in the quick time frame that Agostino had to make the same conclusions .I am not sure it is necessary, but I would love to sit down in a room with people, or even a group of Police Officers and play the video for them and see how they would process their solutions and the "what if's". Hopefully this will be a learning tool for our Police Officers to prepare them for the next time a similar situation occurs. And sadly I think the next time will not be too far off unless we get a handle of the violence on our streets.
Finally, I think I did look at the video and drew conclusions as to the situation based upon my knowledge of previous incidents with Officer Agostino. This was a perfect storm situation and I am not sure even the most seasoned, well trained officer could have or should have acted differently. And I honestly pray that none of my police officer friends, or any police officer find themselves in similar situations. And I don't think I have ever done this before or actually felt the need to do it, but to Officer Agostino, I apologize for judging your actions in the comfort of my computer screen hit play rewind and pause reviewing the video in slow motion, unlike what you were confronting in split second real time.
I appreciate your calling me and having the opportunity hear your version and your sincerity seemed to come through for me. I hope your department will help you and other officers dealing with similar situations to process these events properly.
Before we were done, I asked Officer Agostino a question and told him if he didn't want to answer me I understood. I asked him as the scene was unfolding, did he ever stop to think or delay his response because of liability or what would happen if he fired back or even rammed the car with his cruiser . His response was a quick "No".
Thursday, October 24, 2019
Last night was a very violent night in the Capitol City, shotspotter activations were constant, . Two people were shot in the area of South Green Park, another shooting victim showed up this morning at the hospital for treatment and told Police it happened in the area of South Green Park.
And now it continues on today.
A shootout occurred in the area of Garden and Westland Street. Numerous gunfire was reported. Most op the shootout was caught on the Hartford Police Department's C4 Command Center video.
As the shootout was occurring an HPD black and white cruiser came around the corner. Two vehicles were driving up the street apparently shooting at each other and at a 3rd vehicle at the curb , where that vehicles occupants were returning fire.
The first vehicle being chased continued past the police cruiser. the second vehicle following that one, threw their vehicle in reverse and backed up the street, past the car at the curb that was still firing at them.
What appears to be an innocent bystander trying to cross the street to get away from the gunfire is suddenly struck by the vehicle fleeing in reverse at high speed. She is launched and thrown through the air for approximately 100 feet. She also reportedly had a bullet wound to her head from what sources at the scene have told me. Her condition is unknown at this time, but I am being told unofficially it is not good.. Please keep her in your thoughts
It is also interesting from the video that the HPD Officer appears to continue driving and is not seen exiting from his cruiser or returning fire.
It is definitely, I am sure, an unnerving situation to come around a corner and find yourself in the middle of a firefight, What would the response be? Who knows.
But this is the reality of life in Hartford these days, And the reality is that innocent people are being killed as long as this continues.
We will have to see how transparent HPD and City Hall are and if they have the courage to actually release the video of the real street life in Hartford. It is very disturbing video, but it is reality