It seems as though ever since Hartford switched to the "Strong Tyrant" I mean "Strong Mayor" form of government, much criticism has been heaped upon the Hartford City Council for not exercising its powers given to them as a body under the new charter. This has been very evident, especially at budget time. The Council has appeared to choose a lapdog mentality when approving spending rather than using the pitbull powers they were handed under the Charter.
This became very obvious this week when it came to light that despite layoffs of City employees, some not far from the poverty level, Mayor Perez continues to build the Sovereign Nation of Perez, also known as the Mayor's Office. Even the titles are striking fear in the peasants as they were introduced to the Mayor's new "ENERGY CZAR" this past week. Don Blakelock has been making the rounds this past week and being introduced to City staffers as the latest Knight in King Eddie's roundtable. His official title is Energy Manager, with a salary anywhere from $90,000 to $105,000, depending upon which version you listen to. Ironically, some of these introductions to Blakelock were made to City employee union representatives as they were leaving meetings requesting givebacks from City Employee's to help curtail the budget deficit. I wonder how those talks are going now? Czar Blakelock's annual salary would save more than 3 Public Works laborer positions.
In addition, we were told last summer that Charles Crocini was leaving the Mayor's Office and his replacement, James Keaney had been hired direct from Digg's Construction (yes, that Diggs Construction). It was interesting that at the time of Keaney's hiring, according to the Mayor's Director of Misinformation Sarah Barr, that Keaney had negotiated into his city contract the purchase of a luxury SUV by the City for his use, heated leather seats, roof rack and all. On Friday I received documentation from Santiago Malave, the City's Director of Human Resources, that Keaney's annual salary is $150,000, more than that of Mayor Perez (or at least what he claims on the books, less countertops, jacuzzi's, steam showers, Ireland plane tickets, etc). Mr Keaney's luxury SUV (so much for King Eddie's promise of becoming a green city) purchased by the city could in itself have saved one laborer at Public Works or maybe even a teaching position.
Oh, and Charlie Crocini who was mentioned above as leaving city service to make room for Jim Keaney, don't feel bad for him as a retiree struggling to make ends meet in this economy. Mr. Crocini has been hired back as a "Special Assistant to Mayor Perez", only on a part-time basis though. He's "only" being paid $85.00 and hour for his services as "Special Assistant to the King" (I think they call them Knights). At $85.00 an hour,(yes, not a typo, $85.00 an hour) if he works 15-20 hours a week at the end of the year that could land him close to $80,000 a year. Not bad for a part time job, sure beats those unfortunate retiree's that have to work at Wal-mart.
And finally, on the City vehicle front, Clarence Corbin apparently is not one to be outdone. Last summer I raised the issue of city vehicle use and found that Corbin had two city vehicles he claimed for his personal use. A Buick and a new Ford Escape SUV.(I guess you can do that when you are the one running the fleet of vehicles).This at a time when the Hartford Police Deaprtment was assigning 2 and 3 officers to Patrol Vehicles because they were short of cars. Well, anyway, Corbin gave up the Buick and kept the SUV Ford Escape. Apparently as winter and the cold weather set in though, Clarence must have become envious of Jim Keaney and his luxury SUV with the heated leather seats, because Corbin ordered one for himself. It apparently arrived in the last couple weeks, a lovely shade of green just in time for St. Patrick's Day, and Clarence Corbin can now arrive at work every morning with the same rosy cheeks Jim Keaney has from his heated leather seats. (oops, wrong cheeks)
The Hartford City Council has the power to end all of this insanity. The only problem is, once you are neutered, I don't think it is reversible. We'll see.