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Friday, July 24, 2009


It has been a while since I posted about the latest drama at the Hartford Fire Department, so I guess it is time.

I continue to get phone calls appreciative of the information and coverage I have provided regarding the Dan Nolan firing. Initially, I realized that Chief Nolan was very well liked at the Hartford Fire Department both as a firefighter and Iraqi veteran, and was (and still am) very suspect of the motives surrounding his termination. I received a large amount of calls alleging that Nolan's firing was only the tip of the iceberg as far as questionable matters occurring at Fire Headquarters. I originally thought that it was potentially "sour grapes" by people supporting Nolan, but the facts and documents have supported their allegations. Whether it was Firefighter John Thomas and his hit and run evading, Lt. Gregory Simon and his arrest for theft of utilities or Firefighter Dion Hightower and the search of his home and his arrest on Child Pornography charges. Some of these incidents , as well as the next one I'll outline here, really seem to add credibility to Nolan's argument that part of his problem was that he refused to turn a blind eye and overlook less than qualified and less than credible persons being pushed through the Fire Academy as Hartford Firefighters. Currently I am waiting for information on FOI requests into several of Hartford's latest hires and academy recruits as well as disciplinary and suspension information for the Department. One incident I am waiting on involves a recruit from the last class , who after returning from a fire call punched a fellow firefighter in the mouth, knocking out a couple teeth and receiving an 89 day suspension. Only a suspension in light of a policy that apparently outlines a "zero-tolerance" policy for workplace violence.

The following outlines the stellar career of recent recruit and probationary Hartford Firefighter Henry Biffle. Biffle, 46 years old, was hired by the Hartford Fire Department in May of 2008 as a probationary Firefighter. Although it doesn't appear that much is currently done as far as selecting qualified applicants from the documentation received other than a basic background check, traditionally a persons prior work experience might raise red flags. In the roughly 14 years prior to his hiring as a firefighter, Biffle rotated through at least 24 jobs, depending on which version of his application you choose to use. Both of his applications are below, one the original Human Resources application that list different previous employers than the second application titled "Hartford Fire Department Application for Firefighters", also below. But even Biffle's basic background check by the Hartford Police Department raised issues of arrests in 1996 and 1997 for Assault, Threatening, and Violation of a Protective Order, not necessarily dis qualifiers, but again, something that should typically raise a red flag. (Biffle's background check below also). Biffle eventually made it through the Hartford Fire Academy and was assigned to Engine Company 15 at Fairfield and New Britain Avenues. According to sources, Biffle's performance was less than acceptable to his immediate supervisor, Captain Theodore Borowski. Biffle received "counseling" for several incidents during his probationary period (copies of those available are below).On December 17, 2008, Biffle's immediate supervisor, Captain Borowski completed the City of Hartford Probationary Employee Performance Evaluation form (copies below). Although Borowski wouldn't comment because it is a personnel matter, the original form he filled out was altered after he submitted it. The box that he checked off was that Biffle's performance was less than satisfactory, but somewhere along the line that box was crossed out and the "satisfactory" box was checked, apparently not by Captain Borowski. The end result of the "unsatisfactory" assessment could have meant Biffle's termination from the Department or requiring him to re-attend the Fire Academy. The altered document was signed by Assistant Chief Michael Parker, Assistant Chief Anthony Milner and finally Fire Chief Charles Teale. This altered document was submitted to the Personnel Department and time and date stamped as an official document April 28, 2009, almost four months after Borowski checked off the less than satisfactory box on the form. Apparently somewhere along the line when word of the altered document began to circulate, a new Performance Evaluation form was generated and, according to sources, pressure was put on Captain Borowski to sign the second, unaltered form. Again, according to sources, Chief Milner made several attempts to have Borowski sign the altered form, even going so far as going to Engine 15 instructing Borowski to sign the form and eventually leaving a copy for Borowski to sign.

Captain Borowski's inclinations that Biffle was not prepared to be a Hartford Firefighter were apparently confirmed on January 26, 2009. After exiting a building from a structure fire, according to Fire Department sources, Biffle failed to remove his breathing apparatus facemask, contrary to Academy training and standard procedure. The mask fogged up due to the cold air, and in his full gear with a fogged up face mask, Biffle failed to see a patch of ice, slipped and broke his leg. According to documents received through an FOI request, Biffle's doctor cleared him to return to work on June3, 2009 "without restrictions". Although Biffle's doctor felt he was ready. apparently Biffle had different ideas and informed Captain Borowski that he felt he was unable to return to work. Apparently Chief Milner agreed with Biffle rather than the medical professional and instructed Deputy Chief Mahoney to order Captain Borowski to consider Biffle off on injury until further notice. Apparently Biffle is still out injured, although the Hartford Fire Department won't confirm this.(the text of the injury memo as well as other counseling incidents are below)

Although there are still many more questions than answers as to how discipline is applied at the Hartford Fire Department, one possible answer is listed on the reference page of Biffel's job application below.

If you have additional information or details on additional incidents and don't wish to post them directly here, feel free to e-mail me at and I will certainly look into them. All information is kept in strict confidence.

Biffell Borowski Eval 1 and 2

Biffle Hpd Background

Biffle Write Ups

Biffle References

Biffle Hr Application

Biffle Hfd Application


On Thursday, July 23, 2009 Superior Court Judge Dennis Eveleigh issued a ruling that his report detailing his 18 months as the Investigative Grand Juror (IGJ) in the Perez corruption case was to remain sealed for the most part. Immediately my phone began ringing from many concerned people that this was a bad development and Perez was going to walk. Most of their minds were eventually changed when I repeated the phrase "the information contained in the report is so damning that the publicity would affect the said individual's right to a fair trial". In addition Judge Eveleigh concludes in his report that there is probable cause that various people have committed crimes. Those statements don't sound like a walk to me, and actually would indicate to most people that the scope of this investigation was much broader than most people realized.

**********UPDATE: Friday evening********** Jeff Cohen at the Hartford Courant has posted on his blog that the Hartford Courant has filed an appeal of Judge Eveleigh's decision. The appeal has been accepted by the Connecticut Supreme Court. The hearing will most likely be held before the Supreme Court this coming Wednesday. Jeff's blog can be seen at The text and PDF file of the Courant's appeal can be viewed there also.


As the corruption investigation into Hartford City Hall appears to be stepping up to the next level, the war of words between the Mayor and Council continues to escalate.

The following is the text of a letter sent from King Eddie to Councilman Pedro Segarra after Segarra threatened this week to subpoena city documents that Perez has failed to provide the Council:

July 22, 2009

Hon. Pedro Segarra
Hartford City Council
550 Main Street
Hartford, CT 06103

Dear Councilman Segarra:

I am in receipt of your letter addressed to the Council President dated to July 20, 2009 concerning the FY’08-’ 09 budget. After reviewing your letter, I am genuinely puzzled by what appears to be fundamental misunderstanding of the city budget process and the copious data we have provided the council.
I would like to correct a few points in your letter so that there is no confusion by your colleagues or the public:

I. Contrary to your assertion, the city is not running a deficit and has not done so since I have been Mayor. As you know, the city’s unallocated fund balance is part of the
calculation in determining the existence of deficit. Even after operational shortfalls are factored in, if the city still has cash reserves there is no deficit.

2. As you well know, I have attempted during my tenure to steadily and responsibly increase the fund balance. In contrast, the council has recently supported efforts to
expend the fund balance on operations as part of the budget process. Though I have opposed these efforts, it is clear you and some of your colleagues have felt very
comfortable in attempting raid “the rainy day fund” instead of making either tough decisions on taxes or cuts in services.

3. The council has been kept up to date in regular reports on the status of the budget with monthly and quarterly reports that have outlined the financial situation of the city in
detail. As you well know like every other governmental entity in the country, we will
have to us our fund balance to reach a balanced budget. Additionally, we have outlined a number of strategies to address both revenue and expense that would mitigate the use of the fund balance to balance the budget. The final closeout numbers for the fiscal year will be forwarded to you shortly.
I do urge you to proceed with the items before your committee. These items are important to the residents of the city and have been explained to the committee in some detail. They deserve the counci1’s support.


530 Main Street
Hartford, Connecticut 06103
Phone (860) 543-8300
Fax (860) 722-6606

End of Perez letter*************************************

WHAT? There is no deficit as long as the City has money in the bank (cash reserves)?

Perez, through his own admission and 3rd quarter budget documents clearly states the year end deficit could be anywhere from 6 million dollars to as high as 32 million dollars (if not even higher the way this city is being managed). Since the "rainy day" fund currently sits at somewhere around 19 million dollars (I don't think anyone knows an accurate number)the potential for that reserve to be wiped out is entirely possible. What then?

And the question arises as to why Segarra or any Councilperson, or even residents for that matter, should have to jump through hoops to get information from City Hall. Are subpoenas really necessary to get what amounts to public documents? Or does the Mayor and his staff need the time to cook the books to further the Gospel of Perez?

Possibly Eddie is just trying to buy time so that his disaster of an administration and his legacy as a corrupt leader all come together at once in October as the "damning" facts do become public during his trial


Steve Ginsburg from the Hartbeat Ensemble has asked local bloggers to get the word out about their last performance this weekend for this summers series of "Performance in the Parks". Attached is their press release. Check it out, something positive happening in our city this weekend. While you are out why not check out the Mark Twain House and Museum or the Bushnell Park Carousel and maybe dinner at the Hook and Ladder on Main Street or the Red Rock on Capitol Ave, both with outdoor patios.

The following is the press release from the Hartbeat Ensemble:

HartBeat Ensemble Announces 4th Annual “Plays in the Parks”
Family Friendly Plays Focusing on the Economy

HARTFORD, CT – HartBeat Ensemble will present the fourth season of it's popular outdoor summer play series, "Plays In The Parks", this July in five Hartford parks. Admission is free.

Emceed by Hartford's legendary poet MIRA, each "Plays In The Parks" performance consists of three short plays interspersed with performances by Hartford's best musicians and spoken word artists. This year’s plays come from interviews conducted with residents in Connecticut who are faced with the shifting economy. The series, called “The Economy Hits Home,” tells the stories of people in Greater Hartford who have had to confront issues of housing, job loss, job creation, rising energy costs, maintaining small businesses and much more.

This years performance schedule is:

July 11 - Elizabeth Park
July 12 - Sigourney Square
July 18 - Pope Park
July 19 - Goodwin Park
July 25 - Keney Park

Family activities begin at 4:30 and performances begin at 5:00pm.

“We are bringing theater to audiences in the comfort of their home communities,” says HartBeat Ensemble co-founder Gregory Tate. The free summer theater series is a continuation of HartBeat’s mission to create plays about citizens of Greater Hartford.

HartBeat Ensemble co-founder Julia Rosenblatt says, “Outdoor theater must be provocative, relevant and broadly entertaining or else people will just wander away.” “We believe great humor comes with great truth,” adds HartBeat’s Steve Ginsburg. “Our park shows are family friendly and offer a wide range of theatrical styles.”

Emcee MIRA is inspired by poetry, spoken word and Hip Hop greats like Langston Hughes, Nikki Giovanni, The Last Poets, Talib Kweli and Lauryn Hill. MIRA writes from the truth of what he sees in his community. He calls his works SOAPBOX Poetry because he envisions himself on the corner standing on a soapbox spitting his message to anyone who will listen like the great community activists of the sixties.

The mission of HartBeat Ensemble is to create original, professional theater based on stories from the community. Through Mainstage plays, Open- Air performances and Education programs, HartBeat Ensemble makes theater accessible beyond the barriers of class, race or gender.

For information about Plays in the Parks 2008 visit or call 860-548-9144.