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Saturday, March 7, 2009


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.


For those that haven't seen the Courant's latest addition to,"Cityline", check out As the Courant seems to continue downsizing its daily editions, Cityline allows Courant reporters to post articles and information that might not make it into the print edition.

Saturday's Cityline posted a story about Sarah Barr, Mayor Eddie Perez's Director of Misinformation or more aptly a disciple of the "Gospel of Perez".

For some reason, Sarah Barr has a problem with me. I can't figure out what this could be, especially since Sarah has at one time or another considered herself a journalist. Sarah consistently claims that the Perez Administration continues to be the most transparent administration in recent history at Hartford City Hall. Although, I guess transparency can only go so far when job one is to make sure only the good news gets out. When information is put in the public domain that goes against the Gospel of Perez, I can understand that Sarah might feel responsible for not protecting her boss, and at this point in her career another job loss might be hard to take. I can imagine that the Channel 3 termination was tough enough, never mind getting dumped by a Mayor facing prison. How bad can it possibly get ?

When I started my public access program called "We the People", I also began this blog to continue to get information out to the general public. Both public access programming and "bloggers" are considered,for all intents and purposes, media outlets. This has been determined by court decisions, and in many states now, bloggers are covered by media shield laws.In addition, I have also worked for at least three area television stations as a freelance videographer providing video of crime scenes, fires, accidents and the like. In fact, I had been nominated for an Emmy award for video that I had shot for Channel 3, WFSB. I am also a member of "IRE". the association of Investigative Reporters and Editors. (IRE is a great resource and their monthly newletters really give you great ideas on how to uncover corruption and obtain documents)Note to Sarah: the dues aren't bad and it might help to dust-off those job skills, their mentoring program is great and they can pair you with an actual media professional.

In June of 2008, I had requested to be added to Sarah Barr's media notification list. I figured that for someone that claimed to strive for transparency, this was no problem and she would enter me into her database. WRONG !!!!!

The first e-mail request I sent was answered with the reply "and what media outlet do you represent?". I replied that I had the public access program "We the People" which I was sure she was aware of, because I had been told it was an occasional topic of discussion in the Mayor's Office. None the less, I figured she might not venture out of the bunker at 550 Main Street often, what with having to explain search warrants served on the Mayor's Home, a Grand Jury investigation, failing schools, a budget deficit that today approaches or exceeds $36 million dollars, sky rocketing gun violence etc, etc, etc. I offered to provide her with a DVD of the program for her viewing pleasure, but I never heard back. Since I can't force her to place me on the media list, I did the next best thing. I requested her media list through an FOI request, and since the list is public information , she is obligated to provide it. Again no response, and the FOI complaint was filed with the State of Connecticut Freedom of Information Commission.In September the case was docketed and Disciple Barr was sent her notice that a complaint had been filed. Not surprisingly. that same day, the former Channel 3 employee (until her termination) sent me a list of names via e-mail, some of them I recognized as media people. I guess she thought that would make the complaint go away. Once again Sarah, wrong. The hearing will be held later this month and I look forward to hearing Sarah explain her position, under oath. Apparently a City Hall employee overheard a conversation between Barr and another employee that same day, and when Barr was asked why she just didn't provide the list in the first place, she replied "I just don't like him". The walls have ears in the Mayor's Office, and from what I understand the flower pots and lamps may also, with Federal Agents at the other end.

So anyway, it came as no surprise when Jeff Cohen from the Courant asked me yesterday what I thought of Sarah's press release about Monday's State of the City speech being released to only "credentialed media". I wasn't surprised and actually find it comical. Even though I'm not a "paid" journalist, I try to stick to the facts. As you can see from my postings, I have documents, e-mails and whatever I can find when I address an issue and try to present facts in a responsible manner. And since Monday's speech from Eddie to his Kingdom will most likely border on a fantasy tale, I really don't need an advance copy. The other problem with Sarah's press releases is that my inbox usually gets jammed with people forwarding them to me after she sends them out. It usually is ten or fifteen minutes after she sends them, so I am getting them delayed.I didn't go to school in Hartford, so I'm a fast reader, and they are typically pretty light on the content side, so I can live with that.

Again, check out when you have a chance, we are trying to make Jeff Cohen a legitimate blogger