It seems that anyone outside of City Hall realizes Hartford has some real problems, but once you enter that building something seems to happen to reality.
I keep griping about the lack of leadership at City Hall, and each week it seems to become more and more obvious. I could go back and bring up example after example, but let me just mention a couple of the most recent examples.
Back in the early summer, Reverend Henry Brown stopped by my home and we spoke one night about his frustration with gang violence and the city's response, specifically Mayor Perez's response. Rev Brown told me that he had approached the Mayor in an attempt to set up a meeting to address what Brown saw as the rising gang violence in the City. Perez's response was that Hartford didn't have a gang problem and essentially brused Reverend Brown's efforts off. Surprisingly, or maybe not so surprisingly if you take into account Perez's issues with honesty and integrity, at about the same time that Perez said we didn't have a gang problem he was supporting a Federal grant application stating that Hartford was suffering from a "gang infestation". Although I'm sure that at the time the grant application and the Police Department's Intelligence report were being prepared, Perez, and others, never thought that report would see the light of day in any public way. Only through the diligence of a couple of reporters from the Courant did the report become public. Once the report got out, the spin machine went into overdrive. We heard the Police Chief trying to educate us on "formal" gangs versus "informal" gangs, like it makes any difference. Are we supposed to feel any better if a family member is shot or robbed by a "formal" gang member instead of a less trained "informal" gang member?
The Mayor's staff also went into overdrive doing the radio talkshows, speaking a lot but saying nothing. Do five homicides in seven days still keep us in contention as a safe city? And then, one of the most ridiculous comments by our esteemed Council President/Puppet Calixto Torres, "we need to protect the image of the City". No mention of protecting the residents of the city or visitors to Hartford, just the image of Hartford. Newsflash Calixto, take care of the crime issues and the image will fall in place. Most people are getting tired of the smoke and mirrors, and it has become quite obvious that it is a false facade. The bottom line is the question that needs to be asked, and hopefully answered; was the report a fraud or was the grant application itslef a fraud? The answer seems to clearly be one or the other. The Police Department Intelligence report was misleading and contained fraudulent information or the City submitted a fraudulent application to get the $500,000 grant money knowing they didn't have a gang problem. Which was it? Luckily though the truth finally came, it was the media trying to make Hartford look bad, it was all the media's fault.
Then we get the hiring in the Registrar of Voters Office of a person guilty of voter fraud and appropriately fined by the State of Connecticut. When the Democratic Registrar of Voters Olga Vazquez was asked for a comment by the media about Prenzina Holloway being hired, her response was "how much damage can she do on the inside?". ARE YOU KIDDING ME?????????? Not even an attempt to disguise this hiring as legitimate. Maybe "she will be an asset during the election period", maybe "we need the help", maybe even "she's still suffering from that financial hardship she used to have her fines reduced so we gave her a job". Nope, none of the above just the brilliant remark "how much damage can she do on the inside". If only that Grand Jury report would be released in its entirety, we could probably answer that question much better as to "how much damage can be done on the inside?".
And finally, in less than a weeks time we have another prime example of the stellar leadership exhibited by those at the helm of the USS Hartford as we steam fullspeed ahead toward that iceberg that threatens to sink us. After layoffs of some of the lowest paid city employees, after cutbacks and concessions by the unions, furlough days imposed on most workers and tax increases imposed on struggling small businesses, we continue to hear about ridiculous spending. As I posted earlier, Mayor Perez's Chief of Staff and ten to fifteen others are in Florida this week at a trasining seminar for the City of Hartford's software system. Would it not have made more sense to fly one instructor to Hartford than it would be to fly fifteen individuals to the instructor, paying their airfare, hotel, meals and who knows what else? It would be interesting to note how many of those individuals in Florida for "training" would readily agree to sit in three days of classes at City Hall for the same purpose. I'm sure several of them would find a reason not to attend the training if it didn't include airfare to Florida and a hotel stay in Orlando.
I spoke to someone that attended a dinner in Stamford last week as part of the "Save Chris Dodd's Job Tour" by President Obama. The person told me that they sat at a table and the topic of conversation turned to politics in Hartford. What about that corrupt Mayor of yours, what about the mess that Hartford is, what about those gangs, what about that crime, why has Hartford become such a joke? I felt bad for the person that was attending a fundraiser, only to hear such negative comments. And the person that relayed this to me is one of the good people that cares about the future of Hartford. If only our Councilmembers and Mayor would listen to these comments and realize they have made a joke, a very sad, sad joke, of a once very proud and prosperous City.
Why is it that everyone on the outside of City Hall gets it?