Search This Blog

Thursday, December 30, 2010

IS HARTFORD CITY HALL STILL A "REVOLVING DOOR" OF CORRUPTION ?


Myself, and I'm sure many others, had hopes that with the demise of the Perez Administration a new era of honesty and integrity would take hold at Hartford City Hall. Promises were made of a new day of transparency and integrity that were going to sweep through Hartford government.It seems that very little has changed at City Hall, except the countertops aren't being installed as far as I can tell.

I posted on December 17th about the arrest warrant that was rejected by Hartford Superior Court for a city DPW employee who was clearly stealing from the City. It goes deeper though. I have filed FOI requests with the City regarding documents involving a DPW supervisor, Gennaro Sepulveda, who was responsible for overseeing the employee accused of the theft, Hiriam Martinez. Sepulveda was Martinez's immediate supervisor at DPW. If you didn't read the police report and the arrest warrant application, here it is again.
DPW Tool Theft

Sepulveda is apparently the subject of numerous internal complaints, including one that was made after an altercation between Gennaro Sepulveda and DPW Director Kevin Burnham and several witnesses, where Sepulveda has been alleged to have thrown a chair in the Director's Office. So much for Hartford's "Zero Tolerance" policy for workplace violence. The City Personnel Director has not complied with the FOI request for Sepulveda's records.

In the meantime , Sepulveda is on paid administrative leave, courtesy of the taxpayers of Hartford. According to one city source, Sepulveda recently was trying to get his paycheck ahead of time because he was going to "spend some time in Puerto Rico". Nice work if you can get it, I guess.

Sepulveda is only a small part of the problems at City Hall though. It seems that very little has changed.

For regular readers here, you are very familiar with John Rose and his antics as Corporation Counsel. I had hoped that with Mayor Segarra and his quick termination of Rose, that would be the end of the Rosie era. Nope, not the case at all. Shortly after being terminated by Segarra, Rose landed a job with the Crumbie Law Group. The Crumbie Law Group is a law firm that Rose paid several hundred thousand dollars to as an outside law firm used by the City while he was Corporation Counsel.



Most people would immediately question the ethics and the "revolving door" implications of such a move, most people that is except Rose and the Crumbie Law Group. Only one member of the City Council has taken the time to question the move and the potential violations of Hartford's Ethics code. Councilman Deutsch has filed complaints with the Ethics Commission requesting they look into the Rose matter, as well as others.

Ok, I'll take a break for a moment to allow those of you in a fit of laughter to calm down. Hartford and ethics in the same sentence, it is laughable it seems.

Just to change track for a moment, I would caution Councilman Deutsch not to hold out much hope for a decision based on any integrity by Hartford's Ethics Commission. The members were all appointed by the corrupt, now convicted felon, Eddie A., Perez. This same commission has not once addressed the issues of corruption, double dipping or even the ethical issue of a corrupt Councilwoman taking advantage of a "retirement incentive" moved forward by the very body she served on to benefit herself.

But now Rose seems to be even more obnoxious than usual. Apparently Rose is taking on a case that proves to be allowing himself to line his pockets even more at the taxpayers expense.

The updated Connecticut Judicial website now lists John Rose and the Crumbie Law Group as the law firm representing the City of Hartford in their appeal of the Labor Board decision in favor of Hartford Police Officer Matthew Secore. As Corporation Counsel, Rose was able to stall and delay the case for almost two years in motion after motion and delay after delay. The listing of the activity is attached below. Judicial Crumbie Update

If Rose continues the gamesmanship as he did at City Hall, this could prove a huge windfall for the Crumbie Law Group as they bill the taxpayers for hundreds of dollars per hour. All for what most attorneys I have spoke with agree will be an eventual loss for the City and a win for the Hartford Police Union and Secore.

The only one who will come out ahead in this one will be Rose and Crumbie, and probably Secore when he eventually sues the City. There should have been a simple solution to this two years ago: abide by the Labor Board decision and hire Secore back with his agreement not to sue the City and everyone walks away.

Not Rose though, he needs to be generating revenue to secure his job and the cash cow known as the City of Hartford is job security for Rosie. If Rose were a stockbroker, I think his actions might be called insider trading. He is benefitting from information he developed as an employee of the City of Hartford.

It seems as though decisions like this would not be made without the consent of Mayor Segarra. But surprisingly that apparently is not the case.
When I contacted Mayor Segarra tonight for his comment, he stated he "was not aware of it and I will look into it and discuss it with Sandy and see where we go".

I believe the Mayor, but I also find it very troubling the constant decisions that are being made day in and day out by people that are supposed to be supportive of Segarra. Decisions that are a regular source of embarassment for Segarra. Do you remember the electrocuted birds and squirrels press release, just as an example.

For anyone to make a decision to turn this case over to Rose is inexcusable. To do it without running it by the Mayor first is at the very least incompetence.

Another big problem under Perez was the constant abuses of the Freedom of Information statutes and the lack of transparency when it came to the release of public documents. I had honestly hoped that under Mayor Segarra that would all change. Apparently the Mayor's "transparency" message hasn't trickled down through City Hall though.

As I mentioned above, the Sepulveda FOI request has gone unfulfilled. I can see why they are reluctant to release the info. If what my sources are telling me is contained in those documents is accurate, they will most definitely prove to be embarrassing,but there is no exemption in FOI for denying release of embarrassing records.

I recently had another source tell me that the Human Resources Director, Santiago Malave, had documents relating to furlough days that were supposed to have been taken by City employees to help balance the budget. Apparently there is some interesting information contained in those documents, especially the names on the list who have not complied with the order to take the furlough days.

Malave started the City Hall e-mail dance with me this week to avoid the release of the list. Malave started off by saying the list was a work in progress and he wouldn't release it.In his e-mail he wrote"The list is a working document that contains numerous inaccuracies that we are in the process of flushing out....".

I told Malave he was free to forward me any corrections as they came about, but I still wanted the original list. Once a document is created it becomes a public document, with very limited exemptions, whether it is accurate or not. The greater question is who are we paying at City Hall to generate "inaccurate" documents? Maybe that could be a position for a budget cut.

Santiago Malave is not a newcomer to City Hall and FOI and almost definitely knows better. If he doesn't know better he should not be in that position, he is also one of the employees who has taken the early retirement incenctive. Malave has been kept on after the December 31, 2010 retirement date though since his "expertise" is needed at City Hall.

I'm not quite sure why the Mayor accepts these performances since in the end, it all rests in his lap. But at least his competitors for the Mayor's Office next November must be watching with interest.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

CELEBRATE 2011 IN HARTFORD


I've been a little slow with posts trying to stay caught up with Christmas, but now New Years is almost upon us.

Although the Festival of Light was somewhat of a dud, one event that hasn't been tinkered with promises to satisfy those that make the trek to downtown Hartford Friday.First Night Hartford is ready to kick off Friday with numerous events planned, including two fireworks displays.

For more information and a full listing of the scheduled events, click here

Monday, December 20, 2010

"FLASH MOBS"

For some reason I am very intrigued by the "Flash Mobs", and no it doesn't involve Hartford gangs. For those not familiar with the concept, I guess large groups show up at a specified public place and break out in a performance. This year several locations in Connecticut have received a Holiday treat as the "Mobs" have belted out a rendition of "Hallelujah".

The reaction of the unsuspecting public is interesting as the performance begins. To be a part or watch a "Mob" performance, you can apparently catch one at Westfarms Mall Center Court this Thursday, December 23 at 7:00pm.

Maybe it is not too early to try to organize one for next years "Festival of Light" opening ceremony. And maybe hot chocolate and Christmas cookies prepared by the Lincoln Culinary Institute would work also for the crowd.. And maybe a snow sculpture contest in the park, just some thoughts.

Here is a "flash mob" from a couple weeks ago .

THIS HOLIDAY SEASON, KEEP THEM IN YOUR THOUGHTS



I'm not sure why it is cutting off the right side of the video, but the thought remains the same

Saturday, December 18, 2010

TIME TO BRAG A LITTLE


My nephew Andrew last week in Breckenridge, Colorado pictured above

This isn't the type of thing I usually post, but it is Christmas time and I guess it is putting me in a "jolly" mood.

For those that have been regular readers, this was a year of challenges for me on a couple of medical issues. I realize that comes with age for all of us, but my sister, who also played a big role in getting me through my medical issues, sent out an e-mail today that I wanted to share.

The e-mail speaks for itself, and as we try to adjust with medical issues brought on as we grow older, it is about my nephew Andrew who has had medical issues since he was about 6 months old. The surprising or inspirational part though is that sometimes I don't think he realizes that he has any medical issues. Somewhere in his first few months he contracted viral encephalitis, developed a very high fever and was taken to the hospital. He was sent home and luckily my sister persevered and wouldn't accept the explanation given by the "medical experts". I guess she is stubborn like that, I just wanted to go to bed and sleep when I was having a stroke, she forced me to go to the hospital.

Anyway, Andrew's muscle and nerve development was affected in his lower body, primarily his legs and I am not sure how the diagnosis finally came about, but I guess cerebral palsy is the general term for Andrew's development issues. Andrew is someone that has never let a "disability" keep him down. He is an excellent student, pushes himself to keep up with all the other kids and doesn't seem to look for any sympathy when he can't or when he gets tired. He is a member of the band at Enfield's Fermi High School(his freshman year now) and has also become a great skier. It took him his first few years just to be able to walk and I'm sure no one ever imagined his legs would ever be strong enough or developed enough to allow him to ski.

A couple years ago my sister got him involved in a program for disabled skiers at Mount Snow in Vermont. The program, Ability Plus, turned out to be something Andrew loved and he caught on to skiing almost immediately. Both Andrew and his parents and his younger brother Ryan all mentor other skiers now in the program. Andrew has the perfect "can-do" attitude for anyone that might be thinking that a disability will hold them back.

And speaking of his younger brother Ryan, Ryan assumed the role of "big brother" even though he is a year and a half younger. He is always there to boost his brother up when Andrew might need just a little more help to get something done. And don't even think about overlooking Andrew or trying to pretend he's not there if you think he can't accomplish something. Ryan will be the first one to yell out "hey, what about my brother?". This past Memorial Day Andrew wanted to "march" in the Enfield Parade with the rest of his band members. Ryan stepped up and pushed Andrew the entire route in his wheelchair while Andrew played the drum.

I've bragged enough, but the attached e-mail let's you know about my sister's thoughts. I guess bragging about Andrew and Ryan runs in the family. It is amazing how sometimes a 13 or 14 year old kid can bring things into perspective. (He'll be fifteen this week)

A MOTHER'S PERSPECTIVE

I have had several days to reflect on my son Andrew’s recent trip to Breckenridge, CO for The Hartford Ski Spectacular. It was an amazing and unexpected opportunity for Andrew and I was so excited for him to participate. After attending this event with my family and watching Andrew and the other athletes there, I wanted to take this time to thank all the family, friends and tremendous organizations that have gotten him to this point. When Andrew first became ill with encephalitis, we had no idea if or how much he would recover. When he was diagnosed with Cerebral Palsy at the age of six months, we watched him struggle to crawl, stand, walk and finally run in his own special way. I never imagined that he would be playing tennis with Ivan Lendl, waterskiing on Lake Zoar, playing baseball, teaching other kids how to ski at Mount Snow and downhill racing with Paralympic Olympic athletes in Colorado. He is full of surprises and I am sure there are many more to come.
Andrew worked hard in Breckenridge and I was proud of his determination and how seriously he took the training. He may not have won a medal in the race but I saw a side of him that made my heart swell with pride. We were waiting for Andrew to come down the hill to the start of the race course. It was a cold, windy, snowy day with over fourteen inches of fresh powder on the ground which was very difficult to ski through. I saw a sit skier coming down the hill fall over and there was Andrew behind her and he stopped to help her get her ski to an upright position. They struggled together and as I watched I wondered who would help Andrew get up if he fell over helping her. Obviously that didn’t cross his mind and they were able to get her upright and continued to the race course. It made me think of how much he had matured in that week. It turned out the girls name was Sarah and she had been in the same Duplex as Andrew for the week. I would like to offer a special thank you to DSUSA and The Hartford for letting us participate in this incredible event.
To all those who work and volunteer to enrich the lives of disabled individuals, I would like to say thank you! Your hard work does pay off and Andrew is proof of it. Every contact we have made has led to another contact starting with The Springfield Shriners Hospital, NEHSA, STRIDE, CHD, Leaps of Faith, AbilityPLUS at Mount Snow, Hospital for Special Care, Ivan Lendl Wheelchair Sports Camp, DSUSA, Camp Harkness, TOPSoccer, All Out Adventures, Challenger Baseball and the Enfield School System. Our lives have been enriched by these organizations and countless others. The friendships we have made will last a lifetime.

Friday, December 17, 2010

POLLO TROPICAL SHUTS DOWN

Another high profile tenant in the Wal-mart Plaza on Flatbush Avenue has closed abruptly.

The Pollo Tropical Restaurant which opened about a year ago, has closed its doors, another casualty of the current economy

WHAT DOES IT TAKE TO GET AN ARREST WARRANT SIGNED IN HARTFORD?

I obtained the attached police report and arrest warrant application after someone had questioned why no arrest was made. According to several police sources, the answer is pretty simple. Apparently the Hartford County States Attorney's Office refused to sign the warrant. Why is any one's guess since it seems pretty clear that Hartford Police investigators did a good job of establishing probable cause.

Hartford Police Chief Daryl Roberts would not comment on the matter, but other police sources did. Apparently there is an increasing level of frustration with warrant applications not being approved. Even from a lay-persons point of view, I encourage you to read the application attached and decide if there is any question in your mind that a crime was committed.

Apparently this case is only one of several recent cases that the Hartford Police investigated and took to the Hartford Court and the States Attorney for prosecution. Among them are another four cases that seem crystal clear.

In one case it involved an investigation of a recent burglary in Hartford. Forensic evidence was gathered at the scene of the burglary, including blood from broken glass in a window at the point of entry. The blood was apparently sent for DNA tracking and a positive "hit" came back identifying a suspect. Apparently HPD applied for an arrest warrant for the suspect based on the rock solid DNA evidence.

Lo and behold....the States Attorney refused to sign the warrant for Burglary but rather said maybe they would go with a criminal mischief charge.

Another case involved allegations of sexual assault lodged against a Hartford politician by at least two young men outlining their allegations in sworn written statements. Hartford Police aggressively investigated the allegations and prepared arrest warrant applications for the suspect. The Hartford County States Attorney's Office refused to sign the warrants. Although I can't get anything in writing showing the reason, one police source stated to me that the explanation they received was unbelievable. They told me that in the opinion of the Hartford States Attorney the victims "weren't forced hard enough" into the sexual acts,and that is a direct quote.

Another high profile incident is the Hector Robles investigation. That sat in the Hartford County States Attorneys Office for action and went nowhere. Finally another copy was hand delivered to the office of Chief States Attorney Kevin Kane, in Rocky Hill. An investigation was immediately opened and is ongoing at this time and may potentially result in Robles arrest.

Another case that resulted in frustration on the part of HPD brass and IAD investigators involved the "non-arrest" of one of their own. The case involved the assault of a civilian in a Hartford bar by an off-duty police officer. Apparently investigators obtained a copy of security camera footage that recorded the entire incident. According to one high ranking police official who had viewed the recording, the off-duty officer "delivered a severe beating" to the civilian and it was clear in the footage.

Hartford Police Internal Affairs investigators applied for an arrest warrant for the off-duty officer's arrest, and yes you guessed it, even with clear video evidence the warrant was denied. I have not seen the video, but several police officials who have told me that it is clear and convincing that the officer was the aggressor and if the roles were reversed, the civilian would have been arrested immediately.

Like I asked earlier, read the report below and see if you think a crime was committed.

DPW Tool Theft

DID KELVIN ROLDAN HAVE A "COME TO JESUS" MOMENT ?


The following Press Release was posted on the blog yesterday, and at I first I thought it had to be a joke. But surprisingly, it is not. I verified its authenticity with the Legislature's Press Office this afternoon.

For IMMEDIATE Release Contact: Alberto Negron

December 16, 2010 (860) 240-8518



ROLDÁN INTRODUCES LEGISLATION TO STRENGTHEN MUNICIPAL ETHICS AND PREVENT PENSION PADDING BY POLITICIANS



Representative Kelvin Roldán (D-Hartford) - In response to recent scandals in communities like Hartford and Shelton, State Representative Kelvin Roldán announced today that he will introduce legislation this session to prevent municipal contractors from giving expensive gifts to town officials and prevent politicians from padding their pensions while in office.



The first piece of legislation will prevent town and board of education officials from receiving anything of value exceeding $100 in a calendar year from a municipal contractor, prospective contractor or individual with matters before a planning and zoning commission. Towns with a functioning ethics commission may set a lower gift threshold. The second piece of legislation will prevent local town councils from using taxpayer funds to enhance the pensions of elected officials during their terms in office, as has been the practice of the General Assembly.



The pension padding ban is in response to pension enhancement offered this year by the administration of Hartford Mayor Pedro Segarra which will allow two elected city officials, including a city councilwoman arrested in a corruption investigation, to retire during their terms in office with pension enhancements that will cost city taxpayers tens of thousands of dollars.



“It is stunning that in these difficult financial times that a city administration would make it a priority to pad the pensions of elected politicians with tens of thousands of taxpayer dollars while residents are faced with the potential for drastic cuts in city services and increased taxes. Elected officials must put the needs of the people they serve before the financial well being of their fellow politicians.” Roldán stated.



The gift ban legislation is in response to scandals in Hartford, Shelton and other communities where developers and municipal contractors have provided expensive gifts to municipal officials.



“There is no uniform rule across the state on how to deal with gifts from contractors to municipal officials that control hundreds of millions of dollars in local contracts. The fact is that expensive gifts from contractors to municipal officials can create the appearance of undue influence in awarding bids or rendering decisions. After years of debating this issue, the State of Connecticut needs to set unambiguous bright line that will provide clear guidance to local officials and the public about the acceptable standards for behavior in this area,” Rep. Roldán said.


Does anyone else see the irony in this?

Roldan owes both his political career and his professional career to corruption,courtesy of Hartford's former Mayor, now convicted felon, Eddie Perez.

Roldan would have never been elected to the State Legislature without Perez and definitely would not have had a $120,000 a year plus position created for him in the Hartford Schools without Perez.

And for those not familiar with Roldan, I don't believe he has ever once made a statement regarding his personal puppet master, Eddie A. Perez, or his corrupt administration, his arrests, his trial or even his conviction. Yet Roldan is able to now come out swinging against corrupt officials, singling out Perez's successor Mayor Pedro Segarra.

I don't disagree with Roldan that public money should not be used to pad the pensions of elected officials "including a city councilwoman arrested in a corruption investigation". But isn't it interesting that someone who never spoke out the entire time of Perez's reign now is able to take shots at Mayor Segarra. I guess it is safe to assume Roldan is not working on the Segarra campaign.

It's also interesting to me that Roldan must be well aware that he is not on solid ground when it comes to the stability of his seat in the General Assembly. Roldan came within a handful of votes of losing his last election. Not a good sign of strength for someone running against a convicted felon.

Roldan's actions would seem more legitimate if there was some consistency to his moves. To now take a stand against corruption, the same corruption he has benefited from, seems to just be another example of Hartford's spineless "leaders" who never miss an opportunity to grandstand.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

JOBS, JOBS, JOBS FOR HARTFORD RESIDENTS...AT LEAST IT SOUNDS GOOD

I guess it should come as no surprise to any of us that have weathered Hartford's ups and downs, what our City elected officials say and do are two completely different things.

Everywhere I go I keep hearing them say "Hartford needs jobs for its residents" yet surprisingly, or should I say not surprisingly, that doesn't seem to be the case. It seems like the people that have hung in here and weathered the storm and actually believe in Hartford are shown the back seat when it comes to jobs.

A perfect example is Mayor Segarra's office, sadly. I had questioned the Mayor when his first appointment of a Chief of Staff was not even someone that lived in Hartford. I was told that was short term and he was going to move into Hartford, apparently that never happened. Now a new Chief of Staff who hails from Woodstock, Connecticut has been appointed. I doubt that many Hartford residents could even tell you where Woodstock is on a map, never mind associate the problems Hartford faces with any similar issues in Woodstock.

And just for FYI, Woodstock is in the Northeast corner of the state, near I-395 and the Rhode Island border, population 7,909. Their claim to fame is that Woodstock is a rural, historic community with an agricultural background. Maybe if we decide to start exporting Hartford's dairy products or trees from Hartford's Christmas tree farms, we can emulate Woodstock.

Segarra's new Chief of Staff apparently has extensive management experience that qualifies him to move Hartford's urban agenda forward. Apparently he was a para-legal and office manager at Seligman and Katz for a period of time. Seligman and Katz is the same firm that represented Hartford's corrupt Councilwoman Veronica Airey-Wilson in her criminal matters. That experience could possibly prove helpful in identifying additional criminal behavior remaining at City Hall.

It has been reported that he was also a clerk for a Legislative Committee. He also has been involved in several campaigns and reportedly was the Deputy Campaign Manager for the Lamont Campaign. I would feel better if he was associated with the Malloy campaign, Hartford could use a winner, but oh well. Luckily for us he does work cheap though if the candidates filings are accurate. After Matt Hennessy and his Harvard trip and six figure salary,ESI bonus and lobbying contracts, hopefully the 27 year old Chief will be starting at the low end of the budget ladder. This is Hartford though, so that is doubtful.

To view reported payments to Segarra's new Chief of Staff Jared Kupiec, click here. Under recipient name, enter Kupiec and hit search.
I know Kupiec is young, but he also seems to work cheap, which will be a good thing at budget time. He apparently was paid a little over $5,000 by the Lamont Campaign for his reported role of Deputy Campaign Manager. Those numbers pale in comparison to Hartford's other "political consultants" like the Feltman's, Mantilla's, Arroyo's and McDonald's who have learned to work the system for every political penny available. But like I said before, he is young and I'm sure if he hangs around City Hall enough, he'll learn.

Kupiec also shows payments from Fonfara campaigns, but even those were small.

Hopefully Mr. Kupiec will be relocating to Hartford soon. It only seems right that someone who is going to be responsible for Hartford's urban agenda should be living that urban agenda like the rest of us have been, for better or worse.

I think if we had required that more department heads live in Hartford, as required, we would be seeing much different results. I called our Public Works Director Kevin Burnham almost two weeks ago and still haven't had the courtesy of a return call yet. Unfortunately it isn't an isolated incident, I have yet to receive a return call from Burnham anytime I have left a message for him. Maybe the new Chief of Staff can remind Burnham what customer service is and who he actually works for.

I also find it interesting that when it comes to the issue of jobs for Hartford residents, we continue to turn a blind eye to the leadership of the MDC. The MDC could be pumping billions of dollars into Hartford's economy and eventually into Hartford households. Yet, Hartford's leaders seem to have given a free pass to the leadership at the MDC when it comes to demanding jobs for Hartford's residents.

That free pass in combination with the MDC Chairman's "get out of jail free" card continues to overlook the people who actually live in Hartford. If the Mayor was serious about reform, he would have called for MDC Chairman William DiBella's resignation. When it comes to jobs for Hartford's residents on the MDC's Clean Waters project, we need an advocate that actually lives in Hartford and truly serves the people of Hartford. I doubt that the Mayor or anyone on the Council can honestly look at a Hartford resident and say that they believe William DiBella is a Hartford resident and even lives in the MDC's service area as required by law.

Hartford's Mayor appoints the MDC Chair and the City Council ratifies it.

The requirement of residency is a conversation I have had personally with the Mayor. when he appointed Burnham as the Public Works Director I questioned it. When Hartford Police Sergeant Andrew Jaffe retired from HPD and was then appointed as the Emergency Communications Director, I questioned it. Mayor Segarra assured me that a condition of Jaffe's appointment was that he would take up residency in Hartford within 30 days. Does anyone want to bet on whether that has happened?

As Hartford's unemployment climbs toward 20%, if it hasn't already exceeded that, we need to focus on real jobs for Hartford's residents. No more lip service, no more political rhetoric. It's all about the JOBS Mayor and about rewarding those residents that truly believe in Hartford and are willing to fight the good fight to change things. Too many people see Hartford as a paycheck and a means to a great retirement, and the higher up the ladder, the richer the gravy train is.

And Mayor, when you told me last week I would be excited about the changes you were going to make.....I'm still waiting.

Monday, December 13, 2010

MATT DIRRANE FUND ESTABLISHED



Yesterday I had posted that a fund was being established to help cover some of the costs being incurred by the unexpected death of Hartford Firefighter Matt Dirrane.

Dan Nolan has asked me to post the information above. Please remember Matt and his family as they proceed through this difficult time.

Thanks.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

HARTFORD FIREFIGHTER DIES IN COSTA RICA, EMERGENCY FUND TO BE ESTABLISHED

Matt Dirrane, a 16 year veteran of the Hartford Fire Department, was killed in Costa Rica after being hit by a car. Some may also remember Matt as a partner in the sports bar "Westwings" which used to be on Prospect Avenue (now Damon's)

An emergency fund is expected to be established tomorrow at the Hartford Firefighter's Credit Union. Before Matt can be turned over to his family to return to the United States, all hospital fees and associated services required must be paid. Estimated costs for the hospital fees, embalming and other costs are estimated to be between $10,000 and $20,000.

Once the information is available as to the account set up and how to donate, I will post it here

Friday, December 10, 2010

THE EXCITEMENT METER IS RISING


The "Festival-of-non-Lights" took a step forward tonight in the positive side. After the bashing that opening night took for the non-event, tonight was a little bit better. Unfortunately there weren't many people there to take part in the opening of the skating rink, but those that were there seemed to enjoy it. The crowd probably numbered around 100 people, and those there didn't seem to mind braving the bitter cold.

Mayor Segarra skating and Deputy Corporation Counsel Carl Nasto in his spandex skating outfit was well worth the price of admission. Oh wait, it was free,

A bon fire might have livened the event a little bit, but at least this time Santa was there as scheduled and was greeting those at the rink. Additional lights had been strung on trees near the carousel and more trees were illuminated on the edge of the park.

It would have been nice to have seen it all pulled together on the opening night. Even Mayor Segarra shared his disappointment with me last night as to the event he had envisioned and what actually happened. Apparently his original thoughts were more of a "Winter Festival" type theme with snow-making and sledding, skating combined with lights and other winter events.

Now the challenge will be to lure back those who felt disappointed with the original event and be willing to give Hartford a second chance. I would hope some leadership will evolve at City Hall and with others involved and challenge the planners for next year to "think outside the box".

This could be a great event for next year combined with expansion to the Riverfront and revitalize the festival on Constitution Plaza. The announcement this week that Channel 3 and the Channel 3 "Kid'sCamp" will be resurrecting the former "Holiday Fantasia" in Goodwin Park could be the glue that brings the whole plan together. Hartford could potentially be known as the place to head to for Christmas holiday displays .

Throw in some horse drawn carriages for a few weeks and maybe some hayrides from downtown, running a route past restaurants and businesses and the plaza and the riverfront. And don't wait until a week before next Thanksgiving to start planning it, and maybe it would be a good idea to keep an arms length from some of the planners from this years event who thought the first opening was sufficient.

And while we are at it, lets set a date to shut down Main Street and bring the Taste of Hartford back to the streets of Hartford for a weekend and start showing off all we have to offer. Jamaican patties, barbecue, seafood, italian food, the best grinders you will find anywhere, spanish food, I'd keep going but I am getting hungry now. And top the weekend off with a street concert and a block party.

AND NO SQUIRRELS WERE HARMED





Today Hyacinth Yennie, Chairperson of the Maple Avenue NRZ, called and asked if I would help her decorate the tree in the Barry Square triangle for Christmas. Is it PC to say Christmas or should I say for the "Holidays"?

I had hoped she would have picked a warmer day, but I agreed and we met and began decorating. When she asked me to begin stringing the lights on the tree, I was reluctant to comply.We had recently been educated by the Mayor's spokesperson that Christmas lights could be detrimental to wildlife, and Barry Square definitely has its share of wildlife.

Throwing caution to the wind, I began wrapping the tree in lights and garland and hanging ornaments with constant oversight and instruction from Supervisor Yennie. When I thought it couldn't get much colder, fortunately a couple of Santa's elves arrived on the scene in their individual sleighs, 455 and 453.



In the true spirit of Community Policing, Officer Ted Sposito and Carlo Faienza stopped by for a few minutes to make their presence known in Barry Square. Hyacinth has a way of getting everyone involved and no one seems to be able to say no to her (or else).


Hyacinth Yennie on ladder assisted by CSO's Carlo Faienza and Ted Sposito (aka Batman and Robin)who have contributed to an over 16% reduction in crime in the Southeast area, including Barry Square.


The tree and the decorations look great and we have begun the effort to have the "Festival of Lights" moved to Barry Square next year, squirrels or no squirrels.

To read more about the squirrelly squirrel explanation, click here

Thursday, December 9, 2010

MORE HARTFORD MOVES FOR MALLOY ADMINISTRATION

Yesterday word came out that State Senator John Fonfara is about to move to the Malloy Administration.

Today, sources are telling me that Hartford Police Lieutenant Marco Tedeschi may be on board as Connecticut's Director of Homeland Security for Governor-elect Malloy.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

IS SENATOR FONFARA ON THE MOVE?


Several sources have confirmed for me that an offer of a position in the Malloy Administration may be on the verge for Hartford's 1st District Senator John Fonfara.

Apparently Fonfara is potentially being offered a position on the Connecticut DPUC, Department of Public Utility Control, most likely as Chairman or a Commissioner. Fonfara has been co-chair of the Legislatures Energy and Technology Committee.

This could prove interesting, if it occurs, as the posturing begins to fill Fonfara's Senate seat. MDC Chairman William DiBella, who held Fonfara's Senate seat previously, has told others that he would push for his son Marc DiBella to fill the seat when it was time for Fonfara to "move on". Ed Vargas, who campaigned hard to unseat Fonfara this past election would most likely be a contender. Kelvin Roldan's name has also been heard as someone who might be interested in Fonfara's seat. Roldan's move on the seat could potentially be a political "bridge burner" though considering his ties to the DiBella's and Halloran's, the MDC's attorney.

This should all prove very interesting.

WHY WE SHOULD CHOOSE HARTFORD'S REPUBLICAN "MISS AMERICA" RUNNER UP

If you were applying for a job and had an interview with your potential employers, would you send someone else in your place?

That was the case last night at the Hartford Republican Town Committee's special meeting. The meeting was called to fill the upcoming vacancy by Hartford's only Republican Councilperson, the corrupt Councilwoman resigning under the excuse of "early retirement".

Several potential replacements submitted resumes to the Town Committee and they were each allowed 5 minutes to address those in attendance. Among those submitting their names were Steven Bonafonte, Corey Brinson, Michael Fryar, Mike Lupo, Kevin Carroll, Gerry Pleasent, Nyesha McCauley and John O'Connell. In the end, Bonafonte received the most votes (5) although his presentation was given by a stand-in, playing the part of Steven Bonafonte.

The selection and the replacement process seems to be raising a lot of questions though. First off was a question raised as to whether or not it was proper to accept resumes from an individual who wasn't even there to speak. RTC Chairperson Michael McGarry explained that it was an emergency meeting and they needed to move quickly to provide names to the Council.

No action can be taken by the Council on the Republican vacancy until most likely January 5, 2011 , so I really can't understand the rush. The Council President's position and his Council seat was left open for a couple months after his June vacancy was created. This delay by a Council usually unable to make quick decisions. Also at the time, Segarra played a key role on the Council, I'm not sure the same can be said about Airey-Wilson.

Another big question is why the Democratic Council can choose whoever they want to fill the Republican vacancy. I find it hard to believe that anyone on this Council would vote to put a hard line Republican, such as John O'Connell, on the Council if they didn't have to. If there was any leadership on the Republican Town Committee, I would think their message should be loud and clear, "the Democrat's are not going to choose our Republicans, we selected a replacement and we demand that choice be honored".

But we know that is not going to happen. The RTC never even took a stand on Hartford's corruption scandal, probably because their fellow Republican was neck deep in the scandal, but to say anything would involve exercising some integrity, and that is not a strong point for the RTC Chair.

It would seem that a common sense approach to the replacement is simple. If we really want to follow the will of the people who voted for Council candidates last go around, go back to 2007 and look at the vote results. Kevin Carroll was the 2nd highest vote getter in the Council race and should be Hartford's version of the "Miss America" runner-up. If the number one can't complete the term, the first runner up steps in.

We tend to make these things much more difficult than they need be.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

REPUBLICAN DEPUTY REGISTRAR OF VOTERS PASSES

Hartford's Republican Deputy Registrar of Voters Alice Jenkins passed away last night at Saint Francis Hospital. Jenkins apparently suffered a heart attack on Saturday.

Jenkins had announced her plans to accept early retirement from the City last week.

No arrangements have been announced yet.

Monday, December 6, 2010

WHO IS WILLIE EDWARDS?

If you aren't familiar with the name Willie Edwards, you will be if you check back in here later this week. His story is apparently the story of a city employee who was penalized for ,what most have told me, doing his job.

It is a story that will make you wonder if we have really turned the corner on corruption at City Hall or is it business as usual.

MAPLE AVENUE NEIGHBORHOOD GROUP TO HOLD HOLIDAY "MEET AND GREET" THURSDAY


The Maple Avenue Revitilization Group (MARG) will hold it's annual holiday "meet and greet" this Thursday at 6:00PM. The event will be held in the basement of Saint Augustine's Church located at 10 Campfield Avenue in Hartford.

MARG's chairperson Hyacinth Yennie says everyone is invited and urges people to come meet their neighbor's. Refreshments will be offered and feel free to bring an item if you would like.

In addition, Hyacinth says the group will be collecting non-perishable food items for the St. Augustine Food Pantry.

Items such as toiletries, gloves and socks will also be collected for the South Park Inn

IS IT ANY WONDER PEOPLE DON'T VOTE?

The biggest reason I get from people when I ask them why they don't vote is pretty much the same. "All politicians are crooks and the whole system is corrupt".

As much as I try to persuade them that is not true, I think deep down we know it is. A disgraced convicted felon former Mayor of Hartford gets an interim assignment at a non-profit partially funded by the City before his next job in the license plate shop. A corrupt Councilwoman is rewarded with a cushy retirement package and lifetime medical.

And now Connecticut's outgoing "pure as the driven snow" Governor seems to be letting the committment to high ethics slide faster than a Colorado avalanche. If all of the last minute appointments to protect her cronies isn't enough, read this story by Jon Lender on courant.com .

THE "INVOLUNTARY" VOLUNTARY RETIREMENT OF AT LEAST ONE CITY OFFICIAL

The recent voluntary retirement package offered to Hartford city employees may not be as voluntary as everyone thinks, especially for one individual.

It seems as though Hartford's Deputy Treasurer Donna Nappier had no intention, or desire, to stop serving the people of Hartford. Through an FOI request I obtained Ms. Nappier's "acceptance" letter to the City. Attached to that letter was a detailed explanation as to why Nappier considers her "voluntary" retirement as something that was forced upon her.

In speaking with Ms. Nappier today, she made it quite clear that she fully understands that she serves at the will of Treasurer Kathleen Palm-Devine. The Treasurer is also taking the early retirement package. Nappier also said that she did not plan on running for the Treasurers position in November.

Nappier's letter is detailed below, but the whole matter of offering early retirement incentives to elected officials seems somewhat questionable to me for a couple reasons. The first ,and what seems to be the major reason, is that there will be no cost savings in the resignation of an elected official.

Unlike a regular employee, there is no option of leaving an elected position vacant. The Treasurer and Council positions are mandated by Charter and can not be left unfilled as a clerical or laborer position could be. The fact of the matter is that the medical insurance costs and the early pension payments will actually cost the tax payers of Hartford more.

The only way to save money is if the replacement Treasurer and Councilperson agree to work for free, and I highly doubt that.

The second issue I have is whether it is proper for the Administration or the Council to offer incentives to essentially change the will of the voters. Kathleen Palm-Devine and Veronica Airey-Wilson were both duly elected by the voters of Hartford. There should be no incentive by anyone to circumvent that.

If the Treasurer decides it is time for her to retire or move on, that should be her decision and not because someone dangles the carrot on the stick in front of her. In Airey-Wilson's case, the excuse of accepting the retirement incentive gives her an easy out to escape without addressing calls for her resignation due to her corrupt activities.

In researching early retirement incentives offered by other municipal and state governments, every one that I could find excluded elected officials and in most cases also excluded appointed officials on the State level as well.

Here is an example of the exclusions from a recent offering by the State of New York:

Participation Exclusions for the State of New York program

Individuals serving in the following positions are specifically excluded from eligibility for the Part A & Part B incentive benefits:

* Elected officials;
* Officers described in specific sections of Executive Law, as listed in the legislation and any agency or department head appointed by the Governor, Comptroller or Attorney General;
* Appointed members of boards or commissions of participating employers, any of whose members are appointed by the Governor, or another State officer or body;


In the meantime, there seems to be a lot of questions on why Nappier seems to be being forced out and why the short list of names, actually the one name, being floated for Palm-Devines successor shouldn't be left up to the voters to choose next November.

In Nappier's letter below, she specifically mentions Adam Cloud as the choice Palm-Devine has mentioned as her replacement. She further states that Cloud, according to Palm-Devine, needs to start "learning the ropes". After Kathleen fought off numerous attempts by former Mayor Perez to tap the pension fund to balance the budget, she should know that the Treasurer's office is no place for on the job training.

Donna Nappier has spent over seven years in the Treasurer's Office and I would hope has no need to "learn the ropes"



Nappier Involuntary Voluntary Form

APPARENTLY SOME THINGS WILL NEVER CHANGE

With the demise of Hartford Corporation Counsel John Rose after his termination by Mayor Segarra, I had high hopes that the promises of transparency would actually ring true. I had the expectation that FOI requests would actually become requests rather than the battles I had grown accustomed to under Rose and Perez.

As much as I had high hopes, that has definitely not been the case. Rather than re-type everything, below is an FOI complaint I just made against the City of Hartford and the Corporation Counsel Saundra Kee-Borges for failing to comply with a Commission order. The Commission's order from the September 8, 2010 ruling that Kee-Borges has failed to comply with is also below.

FOI COMPLAINT-FAILURE TO COMPLY WITH COMMISSION ORDER

DOCKET #FIC-2009-551


On September 1, 2009 specific documents were requested from the City of Hartford through a written FOI request. The request was not complied with and an FOI complaint was filed on September 19, 2009. The matter was heard as a contested case and on December 17, 2009 a hearing was held. On December 19, 2009 hearing officer Kathleen Ross issued an in-camera ordered for respondent Rose to submit the requested documents for review. Respondent Rose failed to comply with that order and the hearing officers report was prepared and presented to the Commission on April 14, 2010.

At the April 14, 2010 meeting,respondent Rose requested the matter reopened so he could now comply with the Commissions in-camera order. The Commission re-opened the matter. Respondent Rose subsequently complied with the in-camera review and a second hearing and proposed findings were prepared and presented to the Commission at its September 8, 2010 meeting.


Prior to the September 8, 2010, on or about July 6, 2010, respondent Rose was terminated as the Corporation Counsel for the City of Hartford. Before the September 8, 2010 meeting , I contacted the new Corporation Counsel , Saundra Kee-Borges and she advised me that they would not be opposing the proposed Final Decision, nor did they intend to appeal the decision or offer any arguments.

After the hearing and the Commissions acceptance of the hearing officer's report I contacted Ms. Kee-Borges to obtain the documents. She advised me that there was a problem since respondent Rose had not kept any copies of the documents provided for the in-camera review and the only copies were in possession of the Commission.

During the September 8, 2010 Commission meeting, a letter was introduced from Carl Nasto, Deputy Corporation Counsel stating that copies were not kept. While accepting the letter, the Commission stated that copies could be made for the City at the statutory rate of $.50 per page. Previous testimony by respondent Rose during
hearings detailed that the documents filled two cardboard file boxes and apparently accounted for several thousand pages.

I had been told by the Commission that there was a 45 day waiting period for any appeals. Even though the City had claimed that they would not appeal, the Commission was obligated to retain the documents until October 31, 2010, the end of the 45 day appeal period. I spoke with Kee-Borges and reluctantly agreed to another 45 day delay in obtaining the documents because of respondent Rose's incompetence in not retaining copies . Since the copying of several thousand documents at $.50 a page would cause the City to incur substantial costs, the 45 day period was acceptable.


The 45 day period expired October 31, 2010 and despite several promises from Kee-Borges, the documents have not been provided “forthwith” as ordered by the Commission on September 8, 2010.

A fourteen month delay in obtaining public documents is unacceptable, and a 3 month delay since the Commission's order should be intolerable.

I would ask for immediate action on this matter and additional Civil penalties be considered for failing to comply with the Commission's lawful order.


After filing the complaint for failing to comply last week, today I received an e-mail from Deputy Corporation Counsel Carl Nasto. Essentially,he is claiming the delay because they don't know what they gave to FOI so they don't know what to give me. That explains an awful lot, how long to you think any of these attorneys would survive in the real corporate world?

Here is the text of Nasto's e-mail:

Kevin: Our office retrieved the files from FOIC; however, the exhibits that we were given do not match up with exhibit #s referenced in the decision so we cannot determine which documents we need to disclose to you. We have contacted FOIC and are trying to resolve this problem as soon as practicable. If you have any questions, please contact me at 757-9710. -Carl

This is only the beginning, tomorrow I will detail an attempt by the Hartford Police Department and Assistant Chief Heavren to avoid the release of documents I requested regarding a 2001 HPD investigation. Those documents were discovered by police investigators working on recent sexual assault allegations made by several individuals to the Hartford Police Department. Although Chief Heavren claims the investigation was destroyed years ago, that is the furthest thing from the truth. In fact, through a series of mistakes by HPD, it is very likely that those mistakes allowed a man ,who several police sources have identified as a sexual predator, to remain on Hartford's streets to this day.

FOI Decision Sept 8 2010

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

ADVICE FOR rJo WINCH: TAKE YOUR FOOT OFF THE GAS AND SHIFT IT INTO NEUTRAL


Luckily I have unlimited minutes on my cell phone because it seems to be ringing constantly. Probably the number one subject now is regarding the replacement of outgoing Councilmembers. One is leaving on a high note as he ascends to the State Legislature, the other on a low note after a corruption scandal and her arrest toppled her 17 year political career. Thank you Matt for your service to Hartford and continued success at the Capitol.

What they both have in common is the rush by Council President rJo Winch to fill those seats. Although it took weeks to fill the Council seat vacated by Mayor Segarra's rise to the Mayor's office, the rush to fill Matt Ritter's seat before the body is even cold (sorry Matt)is highly questionable. The theory being laid out earlier in the week was that Winch had the five votes on the Council to slide her pick in under the "political" radar without any problem. It appears that Winch's pic is her close friend, Sean Arena.

Winch apparently isn't concerned with information that came out earlier this year regarding Arena's registering his vehicles in New Canaan to avoid Hartford's high taxes and mill rate. To read that entry, click here

The votes seemed to be in place for Arena and Winch earlier in the week, but that was also thrown upside down after the announced "retirement" of the corrupt Councilwoman mentioned above, Veronica Airey-Wilson. It seems that Airey-Wilson is Winch's fifth vote for Arena.

Now here is where the problem arises. According to Hartford's City Charter a vacany can only be filled AFTER it occurs, and then it must be done within 60 days. Any attempt to fill Ritter's vacancy before he resigns January 3, 2011 would be a violation of Hartford's Charter. The specifics can be found in Hartford's Charter, Chapter 3,section 4, subsection C, subsection 2. It clearly states that a Council vacancy "shall be filled by a majority vote of the Council within sixty (60) days following the vacancy.

Now, Airey-Wilson's resignation takes effect on December 31, 2010, which is 3 days BEFORE Ritter's resignation. Hence, Airey-Wilson can not legally vote for Ritter's replacement and Winch's fifth vote for Arena disappears into thin air, like a check written for countertops. Not that Airey-Wislon or some others on the Council pay much attention to laws if past practice is any indication. This most likely will put into jeopardy the plans to replace Airey-Wilson with her nephew Corey Brinson, but more on that in another posting.

Although the current Council President may consider herself a political power broker after she squashed her competition for the Council President's vote by getting Aponte to flip and support her, she may want to listen to her constituents. Just as a reminder, Winch was the low vote getter last go round for Council elections by almost 1000 votes to the next closest Democrat. She recently lost her bid to unseat the incumbent State Representative Doug McCrory in her home district by close to a 4 to 1 margin.

That might seem to indicate that her support in her own home district is tenuous at best, some might say close to non-existent, and how that lack of support translates to citywide votes would not seem to be strong. People are sick of the back room deals being shoved down our throats. Has anyone heard of Winch calling for any resumes or any consideration of a pool of qualified candidates?

This backroom politics is what has killed our city and it needs to change. If Winch continues down this path though it should prove beneficial next fall when the voters will hold Winch and others accountable for their acts.....hopefully. Anyone who under estimates the voter discontent that just swept this country, is either blind or most definitely doing it at their own peril.

Is another shellacing in the works, Hartford style?

THANK HEAVEN FOR SARAH BARR


I still receive regular calls asking me how Sarah Barr still has a job at Hartford City Hall. Until today, all I could tell people was that I was as confused as they were. Common sense would say that the spokesperson and the face associated with a corrupt, criminal Perez Administration would have been shown the exit at City Hall quickly if a fresh start was really happening.

After all, Barr was the one who was credited with creating the "Gospel of Perez" that taught Perez's staffers the fine art of spinning and embellishing the truth. The "Gospel" was all about the message, forget about the truth. Barr was also the one standing by Perez manipulating the media as Perez faced the Grand Jury and had his home searched by authorities. She was also there as arrest number one took place and there again during arrest number two. She was there at the prayer vigils and Function Room pep-rallies and she was there putting name tags on all the Council Chamber chairs reserving them for Perez Cheerleaders at the State of the City addresses.

I thought that would be a no-brainer for Mayor Segarra, Barr would be out the door. Especially since Segarra seems to have no problem handling the media on his own, and the speeches seem to come from the heart rather than from a script as was the Perez style. And whether those speeches were written upwards, backwards or right to left to account for the "dyslexia defense", there is no doubt Barr was the Perez mouthpiece. And if budget cuts were really needed , Barr's $80,000 or $90,000 plus salary would be a good start.

All those thoughts went out the window today when I realized Sara Barr's true value to the people of the City of Hartford and restoring our image as a thoughtfully run City. Just when you think Hartford is a laughing stock and can't do anything right, Sara Barr steps forward and earns every penny that the taxpayers of Hartford have paid her since she lost her job at Channel 3.

Anyone who has followed the debacle of this years "Festival of Light" must have seen that Hartford appeared to be a huge disappointment to countless children and adults. Many of them families who ventured into Hartford last Friday for a spectacular holiday event. The only problem was that those who ventured in were left in dismay after the switch was flipped, and what to their wondering eyes did appear,...... but an artificial tree lit in the middle of Bushnell Park.

Luckily for us, all the disappointment has now been forgotten by one little media statement from the Barr spin machine......"WE DID IT FOR THE SQUIRRELS". Yes you read that right, the lack of the 250,000 twinkling lights promised before the event apparently happened out of consideration for Bushnell Parks wildlife. Lights require wires. Wires carry electricity. Squirrels eat wires. Birds land in trees. Trees have lights, the same lights with wires that carry the electricity that the squirrels might eat and, as the Barr theory goes, birds could get electrocuted as they land on those wires that carry the electricity that the squirrels eat.

Brilliant, brilliant...absolutely brilliant. It is so bizarre that people will have to believe that. And tell me what suburbanite wouldn't be willing to overlook the original failure and give Hartford a second (or maybe even third, fourth, fifth or more) chance. Consider the alternative, the poor little squirrel falling from the tree, smoking nuts and all after eating the wrong wire before the bird could land and electrocuting himself. This might be a good time for the "chestnuts roasting" joke, but I will choose not to.

So anyways, back to Barr. For a city that seems to have a severe credibility issue on just about every front, why would we even think of using the truth when the absurd will do just fine. Why would anyone admit "we screwed up, we underestimated what the public expected" when you can tell people "we did it for the squirrels".

From what my City Hall sources tell me , Barr will next take over media efforts for the Hartford Police Department. Tell me I'm crazy but her next effort is also brilliant. Those same visitors to the City who were disappointed by the "Festival of non-Lights" also seem to have serious concerns about Hartford's gun violence. Barr's latest effort will kill two birds with one stone. That might not be the right choice of words if we are concerned about electrocuting birds on the lights, but I'm not as good at the spin as Barr is.

Anyway, the new plan like I said is brilliant. Barr has apparently instructed the Hartford Police Department to immediately cease referring to anyone taking a bullet as a "shooting victim". Instead, according to her directive fresh out of the Mayor's Office, from this point forward any one shot in Hartford is to be referred to as "suffering from a severe case of lead poisoning". Like I said before, absolutely brilliant. Shooting victim scares people, "suffering from a severe case of lead poisoning" should change everything, it worked with the squirrels.

If they fell for it with the "doing it for the squirrels" defense, why wouldn't they buy it with the "lead poisoning" defense, hopefully it will work much better than the "dyslexia" defense, I guess two out of three ain't bad.

Keep it up Sarah, these fools will never see through the smoke and mirrors.

P.S., it also gives me a reason to re-use the lovely pic above. Many people asked me where I got that pic from and in all honesty the photographer who took it recently passed away. I'll never forget how the photographer loved seeing me use the pic and was proud of the naturalness and quality as opposed to the "staged" photos he seemed to dislike. Brian Libert was never seen without his camera and loved clicking away, many pics were flattering and many were not, but they always seemed to capture the true essence of his subjects personality. Don't you agree?

Monday, November 29, 2010

CITY HALL SOURCES: AIREY-WILSON TO RESIGN


Above: arrest photo of Councilwoman Veronica Airey-Wilson
For the second time in less than a month, embroiled Hartford Councilperson Veronica Airey-Wilson is managing to take the easy way out.

Airey-Wilson, who played a role in the Perez Corruption scandal and was eventually arrested along with Perez ,took Accelerated Rehabilitation to avoid going to trial.
After that decision many were calling for her resignation for her violation of the public trust as an elected official.

Now, it appears as though Airey-Wilson will be able to avoid those calls for her resignation and save face, courtesy of the City of Hartford's pension fund. City Hall sources have advised me that Airey-Wilson submitted her paperwork to accept early retirement shortly before today's 5:00PM deadline. According to those same sources, Airey-Wilson's "package" also includes paid medical insurance at the taxpayers expense for life.

It seems ironic that the State Attorney General is attempting to revoke Perez's pension for his criminal acts while Airey-Wilson is being rewarded and given a graceful exit from City Hall with her pension.

Friday, November 26, 2010

WHAT THE FESTIVAL OF LIGHTS USED TO BE

"ANONYMOUS" posted this "youtube" link from last year's Festival of Lights. This is what I'm sure many people expected when they made the trek to Hartford for the "New and Improved" Festival of Lights.

I'm not sure what STN2 is, but the video gives you an idea of what the Festival used to be before it was "tweaked" to a fake tree standing alone in the park. At least they can say they drastically cut the energy usage this year.

UPDATE: From what I can find on their website, STN2 seems to be a news network at the University of Hartford

OK, THE JOKE IS OVER , PLEASE TELL US THE TRUTH


I think I might have finally figured it all out. For the last several years we have all been on a hidden camera reality show just to see how far we would go to tolerate a corrupt, incompetent, overly inflated municipal government trying to kill a capitol city. Any day now, someone will jump out and yell "surprise, we gotcha"

I won't rehash everything over the last couple of years, but tonight's "Festival of Lights" has to be our last performance before the producers of "Surreal Life: Hartford" unveil their project. There is just no other logical explanation, it can't get much worse.

As dusk started to settle over Hartford, I decided that after this afternoon's post about the poor condition of Bushnell Park, I would give the "Festival of Lights" a chance anyways. I left the comfort of my living room and the fireplace, bundled up and I walked downtown. I was pleasantly surprised by the foot traffic headed toward the park and the large crowd in the park.

Suddenly as I walked into the park I heard the countdown ten, nine, eight......three, two, one, zero. I waited to see Bushnell Park in all its holiday splendor as I expected to see all the trees lit up, the pumphouse outlined in miniature lights, essentially Constitution Plaza re-incarnated in Bushnell Park with thousands and thousands of small white lights. I wanted to see the few thousand people in the park feeling warm and encouraged about Hartford's new direction.

I thought something went wrong because after the countdown all that lit up was an artificial tree in the middle of the park. Ok, they must be waiting for the big finale and this was just a tease to get people going, at least I hoped.

The group singing Christmas Carols was entertaining the crowd, but eventually I heard people start mumbling "when are they turning the rest of the lights on?". I was asking myself the same question. I found an assistant to one of our Councilpeople and asked the question when the rest of the lights were coming on?

Almost apologetically I was informed "that's it". That's it? One tree in the middle of the park, and an artificial tree at that. And a few shop lights with colored filters shining on the trunks of a few trees at Jewel and Trumbull Streets.

So I am convinced that it must be a reality show, no one can be this incompetent and still collect a salary. No one can hype an event such as they did with the move of the "Festival of Lights" and be serious about an artificial tree being lit and expect it to draw all those people back into Hartford in the future.

It just seems that every time we are handed an opportunity to excel and move forward we shoot ourselves in the foot. This time we made a point to do better, we didn't shoot ourselves in the foot we made sure to shoot ourselves squarely in the forehead.

At the risk of getting punched out, I asked a few people what they thought as they quickly exited the park. The comments were pretty short and to the point and ranged from "This sucked" to "We're done with Hartford". One person even commented that a police cruiser parked at the curb had more lights on it than there were in Bushnell Park. The sad part is that they probably weren't far off in their assessment.

Like I said in this afternoon's post, I can't figure out why or who made the brilliant decision to move the Festival of Lights from Constitution Plaza. It just seems like it would have been a great opportunity to build the festival and include the latest crown jewel of Hartford, the Connecticut Science Center. But I guess in true Yankee tradition, we don't want any excitement to stir things up.

Oh well, there will be other opportunities, but we'll probably blow those too.

WE JUST DON'T GET IT



A few short hours from now, the City of Hartford will hopefully be welcoming thousands of visitors to the Festival of Lights. I say hopefully because a new venue is being tried this year as the festival moves from Constitution Plaza to Bushnell Park.

Many of us remember the annual tradition of going into the City the day after Thanksgiving to see everything Hartford had to offer to wide eyed kids anticipating the arrival of Santa Claus. Remember the store fronts that rivaled something from 5th Avenue in New York. The animated window displays of G.Fox and Sage-Allen. Then the trip up to the 11th Floor of G.Fox to Santa's Village and ultimately to sit on Santa's lap and let him know what we hoped for under the tree on Christmas Day.

But that was when Hartford was vibrant and wasn't the skeleton of itself that it is now. We actually had Channel 3 that would broadcast live from their Headquarters on the Plaza as Santa descended down the side of a building in his sleigh. Downtown was full of retail and reasons to actually bring a family downtown. Even the Police Department was steps away from the Plaza and crime wasn't a concern with the police presence downtown.

I just don't understand the move this year, and after stopping by Bushnell Park this afternoon, I really do believe we have a city run by people with no clue how to turn this City around.

If you wanted to impress visitors to your home, wouldn't you put your best foot forward ? Just hours before the switch is supposed to be flipped, Bushnell Park is a mess and there is no excuse for it. The leaves in the Park haven't been done yet, large areas of the Park are covered with leaves and trash. There are a few large piles of leaves surrounding the Carousel that seem as though they were just left there by maintenance crews and just never picked up. The picture above is just an example of the condition the park is in.

The other issue I have is why the operation had to be moved to Bushnell Park. Are we limited to how much excitement the City can tolerate as we try to get people back here? Why not keep Constitution Plaza lit as well as Bushnell Park and maybe include portions of the Riverfront? To connect it all together maybe hayrides or horse drawn carriages to move people around downtown with frequent stops at businesses and restaurants that are trying to weather the economic storm in Hartford.

Imagine if we had all the Christmas lights, hay rides, ice skating a bon-fire in the park on the same night there is a Uconn game at the XL Center, people might just talk about the excitement in Hartford.

We obviously know there is a market for it if anyone can remember the lines of traffic waiting to get into Goodwin Park for the old Holiday Light Fantasia.

It just seems that there is very little creativity in Hartford's thinking and just because we want to be vibrant or try to convince people we are vibrant, doesn't mean it is going to happen without some work.

Maybe if we had high level City employee's that actually lived in Hartford, they might notice and actually pay attention to the things we see everyday as residents.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

A DEFINITE, ABSOLUTE, UNEQUIVOCAL NO, THEN MAYBE THEN YES.... MAYBE


That seems to be the stance that has been taken by Hartford's Mayor Pedro Segarra as to his mayoral run.

Initially it was no, definitely not when he assumed the Mayor's Office in July.

Since becoming Mayor he has been evasive as to whether he would run for a full term or not. This past Sunday on Face the State he still wouldn't commit. He stated he "had taken out the papers" for a possible run but he was still considering it. Then a few hours after the program aired, the Hartford Courant announced that Segarra was running for a full term.

Although I might agree that as of right now the Office of the Mayor is Segarra's for the taking, it seems like the honeymoon period after his shotgun wedding that put him in as Mayor might be quickly ending.And just my thought here, the comments that Mayor Segarra is waiting for someone qualified to step forward and no one has yet is reminiscent of the Perez ego when he appointed himself to the Board of Education because "no one else was qualified".

The people that call me and those that follow City Hall have a great concern for the Mayor's sudden case of laryngitis when it comes to speaking out about the continuing corruption in Hartford. Specific examples are the hiring of former Mayor and now convicted felon Eddie Perez by a non-profit receiving major funding from Hartford's taxpayers, the lobbying contract to Matt Hennessey funded through the Hartford School system and John Rose landing at a law firm that he paid almost a half a million dollars to while he was Corporation Counsel.

And quite a few people are very disappointed that the Mayor has not addressed the air of corruption that permeates the Council Chambers. During the period of the Perez Grand Jury and eventual conviction, Segarra was someone that seemed to still be able to bring integrity and honesty to the Council. Segarra was able to ask tough questions when they needed to be asked and he was also able to avoid the distractions of the corrupt Perez Administration and focus on the business of Hartford, especially during tough, borderline disastrous, budget times.

By luck for the people of Hartford, Segarra was able to persevere and attain the position of Council President. I think this was partially due to his sense of fairness but also in great part because he was able to focus on getting the job done without the grandstanding we see frequently on the part of the Council. I honestly shudder to think where we would be now and where we would be headed if someone else besides Segarra had become Council President and eventually became Mayor.

Mayor Segarra made a couple of quick decisions when he first took office. Although I commend him on those moves, in all honesty they were no brainers. John Rose, Susan McMullen and Lillian Ruiz shouldn't have been tough decisions for anyone attempting a clean sweep of City Hall. It seems as though one of the other crooks at City Hall must have stolen the Mayor's broom though because the housekeeping suddenly stopped.

I have had conversations with the Mayor about others at City Hall that should be shown the door, but in respect to him, those were private conversations and I respect the Mayor as someone I consider a friend and he shouldn't have to differentiate between our talks as friendly conversation or fodder for a blog, so I'll draw the line there.

But, more importantly, the people that I am speaking with seem to share a lot of my thoughts.

Whoever becomes Hartford's next Mayor needs to set a clear tone and we need to know where he (or she) stands. Mayor Segarra has been quite clear that he wants people to feel good about Hartford. His actions show that and in part I think it is working. That is entirely understandable and with a Masters in Social Work i fully understand, I think, where Segarra is coming from. If the Mayor isn't rescuing a cat from a tree or consoling a fire victim, I'm sure we will be able to find him serving hot chocolate in Bushnell Park at the skating rink.

If that is what makes Hartford interesting and draws people back, good job Mayor Segarra. But that is only half of the job. We need a Mayor that can determine when to be the nice guy and also be able to flip the switch and make the tough decisions when needed.

In trying to recover from a corruption scandal, a clear tone needs to be sent to everyone. Whether it is the resident's of Hartford, a business owner looking to move to Hartford or even the people firmly entrenched and profiting from Hartford's corrupt political system, the message needs to be clear...THOSE DAYS ARE DONE!

For someone that has brought dignity and integrity to Hartford City Hall, I would think Mayor Segarra is as offended, if not more offended, as many of us are with what we still see at City Hall. A Councilwoman still sitting there while she is on probation for her arrest in the Perez corruption scandal. The Councilman who is actually Segarra's replacement is neck deep in a federal investigation, and malpractice and fraud allegations. I won't even go into the names I'm hearing that are going to be shoved down our throats for Councilman Ritter's replacement when he goes to the Legislature.

I'm sure this bothers the Mayor, and yes he is only one person, but people want to hear him setting a tone that Hartford is going to move forward and prosper. We are going to do this with every effort to be corruption free and beyond reproach and those who can not play by the rules aren't welcome in Hartford City Hall.

Only doing half of the job, the "feel good" part, is not what the people of Hartford are looking for and we need and deserve the full "Mayoral Package" not just the feel good options.

WHERE IS THE "LIST OF ELEVEN OTHERS" ?


The first "anonymous" poster on the Robles Hearing Report raised the issue of the "others" doing the same "double dipping", a/k/a Larceny, that Robles has been accused of. Many keep referring to the "list of 11 others" and asking where that list is?

The real answer....it doesn't exist.

According to police sources, at least four of them who were closely involved with knowledge of the investigation, the list of real names never existed. In the initial interview with Lieutenant Ed Daley, Robles's supervisor,reference was made by investigators as to the numerous other officers also "double dipping". The tactic of deception is a legitimate interviewing technique when trying to get to the truth.

Although Lt. Daley was interviewed as part of the investigation, there have been no allegations that he was involved other than supervising Robles's time records and not properly supervising Robles's performance.

In the case of Robles the tactic apparently worked as his IAD report and interviews reflect.

It has seemed to create more of a controversy as the word of the list has become public knowledge. I have been assured by Chief Roberts though that if any other names are revealed, those individuals will also be aggressively investigated.

At the time of his termination, according to police sources, Robles repeatedly mentioned the "list of 11" and the "others who were doing the same thing". Robles was given the opportunity to reveal names of others involved.

In the meantime, a new computerized system to track private duty jobs, overtime and payroll should be on-line any day now. According to Chief Roberts, the new system will allow the Department to track billing and payroll and "red flag" any abuse or mistakes.

THE ROBLES HEARING OFFICER'S REPORT



After the IAD report into "double dipping" and larceny allegations against former Hartford Police Officer Hector Robles, a departmental hearing was held into the charges. That hearing evenually resulted in the termination of Robles. The report of the hearing officer, Captain Achilles Rethis, is below. Robles is also the State Representative for the 6th District, recently re-elected as the Democratic candidate

Robles Hearing Officer Report