I think sometimes we seem to take things too seriously and get bogged down in details.
But then at other times we don't take things seriously enough. This past week it seems that many people have trivialized (or at least have tried to)Tuesday's Democratic Town Committee elections. I have heard many comments that the 5th District law suit is a waste of time and just petty politics.
Personally, I don't think anything could be further from the truth. It seems to become clearer and clearer every day that the current administration and the Democratic Town Committee "leadership, and I use the word "leadership" loosely in this situation, feel that laws only apply to others.
A few examples, many of which I have already detailed here in the past, but it might be time for a quick refresher course before the polls open Tuesday.
Lets start with the Democratic Town Chairperson and his slate in the Fourth District.Both Sean Arena and his brother Ralph Arena have registered their cars out of town for years to avoid Hartford's taxes. Now after further investigation, it seems that several others on the "Arena" slate are dodging Hartford's taxes by registering their cars in other towns with lower tax rates, and one even registers his car in another state to avoid paying taxes in Hartford.
Is that the leadership example we want set for others in Hartford? Forget about controlling spending or being fiscally responsible.When the next tax increase hits you can just register your vehicles at a friend or relatives home in a more properly run town with lower taxes, and beat Hartford out of its revenue.
Then we can jump to the 5th District, a longtime stronghold of corruption and political crimes. Al you have to do is read the arrest warrant affidavits for Mayor Perez and Abe Giles to see how the system works. Then add the twist of the Democratic Registrar Olga Vazquez into the mix, and you have the ultimate opportunity for political corruption.
Unfortunately for Vazquez, she seems to be prone to memory lapses so she can't lay out her activities for us. Luckily though, other documents and testimony have been able to piece together the details that Vazquez appears to have forgotten. Falsified petitions, purged or "inactive" voters being taken out of the system to penalize districts not favorable to Perez, refusing to accept voter application cards. And I'm fairly confident that this is only the tip of the iceberg, but I think you get the picture. Is this the leadership we are willing to accept?
And lets travel over to the 7th District. The 7th is home to the "political leaders" who are competing with "team Giles" for the gold medal for the dirtiest political activities. Long home to absentee ballot fraud and other illegal activities to violate the rights of voters, the "incumbent " slate wants another term to continue to line their pockets and prosper at the expense of some of the poorest neighborhoods and residents in the City.
And again, the 4th isn't the only district beating the Hartford Tax Collector out of his dues. The leader of the 7th, at least I assume she is the leader because she has the largest picture on the largest easel in the atrium of City Hall as part of her and her daughters popularity contest for Black History month, also has proven to us that the laws don't apply to her. Prenzina Holloway has shown a total lack of respect for the community and the laws as she admitted to absentee ballot fraud. She reinforced that she was above the law when she drove her Hummer for months unregistered after she refused to pay the taxes on the vehicle. She only stopped driving after the police bagged her and took her plates. Is this the leadership by example we are willing to accept?
Many people in the city are becoming more vocal that they are fed up with the level of dysfunctional leadership that has been tolerated for years in Hartford.
People stepped up and registered and voted in record numbers for the last Presidential election. Now it is time to step up and vote in an election that is probably as important, or even more important for the future of Hartford.
If as a City we are willing to see only a few benefit from government, rather than everyone benefiting, then stay home and don't vote in Tuesdays election.If you are willing to have poor candidates, corrupt candidates or puppet candidates selected for political office, then stay home Tuesday and don't vote.
If on the other hand, you would like to see the best candidates selected and put forth for office,get out and vote on Tuesday.If you would like to see a Town Committee that will educate and encourage citizen involvement and return every one's voice to the process,get out and vote on Tuesday.
And I urge you to vote for the challenge slates, not the incumbents.
Are the challenge slates perfect? Absolutely not. But the risk of sounding like urging you to vote for the lesser of two evils, please consider the history. The current Democratic Town Committee consists of people that in many instances have benefited from corruption and self serving activities for many years, much of which may play out for public view over the next few months in Hartford Superior Court as corruption trials begin for Perez, Giles and Republican Councilperson Veronica Airey-Wilson.
The simple message for Hartford is clear, the same message that swept President Obama into office, it is time for "CHANGE".
Like I said before, I don't believe any of the slates are perfect. But what we have hasn't worked and Hartford is sliding backward fast. The challenge slates need to realize that we are willing to give them two years to work for change. After those two years we will make a decision if they deserve another two years to continue their work or vote them out for more change. To continue to return inept or corrupt individuals to political positions year after year after year because that is the way it has always been is borderline insanity.
I don't know much about the 7th District challenge slate, other than the fact that the incumbent slate headed by Prenzina Holloway has already proven themselves, and not for the betterment of our city or neighborhoods. Prenzina Holloway has been lining her pockets with political dirty tricks for years, it is time to send a clear message that "CHANGE" is needed. In the 7th District, please vote for the challenge candidates and help make a change.
The 4th District Challenge slate is something I am proud of the way it has turned out. In late November or early December, there were at least 3 challenge slates planning to run, all being organized by people with very strong personalities. I think they all had something to bring to the table, but running three slates would only dilute the pool of voters.
The most likely result of running three challenge slates is that they would almost certainly guarantee a win for the incumbent slate as they split the voters into three different directions. I asked the leaders of the challenge slates to sit down and we met at a small restaurant and over lunch discussed the situation. The end result is that only one challenge slate was put forward and has done a good job working the neighborhoods, registering voters and encouraging voter involvement.
The 5th District challenge slate is also a slate that I would encourage those in the fifth district to cast their votes for. Is the slate perfect? Again the answer is no. But there are several people that have proven that they care about Hartford and work hard for the city, and not to line their own pockets. There are a few people on the slate that I have only had the opportunity to get to know recently, but others that I have known for years.
One is Jean Holloway. And if you ask what is in a name, in this case nothing if you look at the other Holloway above. Jean is an individual that I have had numerous conversations with regarding her love for Hartford. Many times I have thought she was on the verge of tears as she describes the state of Hartford now as to what it was years ago. It almost seems that she thrives on helping people facing issues in Hartford and that is what gives her the drive to keep pushing forward
Another is Steve Harris. Steve is someone that was born and raised in Hartford, and has such a strong love for the city that most likely when it comes time for his last breath it will be taken proudly on Hartford soil (hopefully many many years from now because we need people like Steve around to fight the good fight). I actually joined the Greater Hartford African American Alliance because of Steve Harris and a couple others. When I first heard Steve speak at a meeting, his passion and love for the City came through when I heard him address issues facing Hartford.
A couple others I have only recently had the opportunity to get to know would definitely add a positive effect to our city. As you know, I sometimes have a tendency to be rather outspoken. At least two of the members of the challenge slate have relatives that have been the subjects of my postings. Surprisingly, these two, unlike our vindictive Mayor, didn't seem to hold a grudge when we met.
One is Rebecca Wareing, wife of Richard Wareing. She did tell me she can't watch our "1Hartford" program while her husband is in the room, something about his blood pressure skyrocketing. After our conversation, I realized that her "no nonsense" demeanor may come from her military background. Rebecca's background and honesty would seem to definitely be an asset to any Town Committee slate.
Another is Marc DiBella. If someone ever took as many shots at my father as I have taken at his father, MDC Chairman William DiBella, I'm not sure how I would react. Marc seems like someone willing to work with anyone for the common good, putting personality and differences aside. Again, not a bad trait for anyone in the political mix. Maybe our Mayor could take note of this.
And Eric Crawford, for anyone who has ever met Eric his personality speaks for itself. I once spoke with Eric several years and he described his upbringing in Buffalo, New York. He told me how he never realized what was outside of the inner city until he took a Boy Scout trip and saw the opportunities outside of the city.
Eric strives to point the youth of Hartford in the right direction and is a role model that everyone can be proud of. Just spend a minute speaking with Eric and you can't help but feel as though honesty and integrity flows from him. I'm usually a pretty tough judge of character, but Eric is one of those people that you can't help but trusting as soon as you meet him.
And if ever there was an example that proves the old adage "don't judge a book by its cover" it is 5th District challenge slate candidate Julio Concepcion. Julio used to work in the office of Mayor Perez. I hope this isn't demeaning, but Julio was an "assistant to the Mayor", essentially functioning as the Mayor's driver and spending many hours in the presence of Eddie Perez. I "judged the book by its cover" and assumed that Julio was formed in the same mold as Perez.
After the few conversations I have had over the last weeks with Julio, I can admit that I was wrong from what I have seen. Julio seems like someone who is eager to immerse himself in Hartford and its neighborhoods to do the right thing for the City.
Getting young people like Julio involved in our city is what leadership is about. Not to overstate this, but I predict that Julio will be someone to watch for future leadership roles as he moves up through the ranks. That is exactly what leadership is about.
It seems like we have too many "leaders"(again using the word loosely, actually extremely loosely) who want to retain their stranglehold on their perceived "power".To me, I see a true leader as someone that nurtures and teaches younger people what being a leader really is about and bringing that young person along.
The 5th District challenge slate seems to get that, from what I have seen, and I look forward to watching them in action rebuilding the political landscape in Hartford.
I would never try to tell someone who to vote for, even as many people have asked me who they should vote for. Usually I give them my thoughts, advise them to find out all they can about the candidates and educate themselves, and then make an educated decision at the polls.
I hope my thoughts can help the education process.
Get out and vote on Tuesday....PLEASE...PLEASE...PLEASE. Hartford's future depends on it and the whole foundation of our Democracy begins on the local level with the Town Committee's.
And to show that we need some levity at times to bring us back to reality, the video below shows that one person can make a difference and motivate others to join in on the process. That one person can be you.