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Friday, May 7, 2010


Sometimes you have to wonder if the Hartford City Council realizes what their function is. Without making this sound like an attack on a specific Councilperson, I will say that there is enough blame to go around for everyone on the Hartford City Council.

Today, Councilperson Cotto was making the media rounds in support of his upcoming resolution demanding that the City of Hartford not do business with Arizona companies. This is a result, apparently, of the State of Arizona tightening their state laws to address immigration problems.

A polarizing issue? Most definitely yes. Is it any business of the Hartford City Council? Absolutely not.

At a time when the City is facing dire budget problems and a multi-million dollar deficit, a failing education system, huge losses of jobs and businesses fleeing the city, unaffordable tax increases, an understaffed police department and even potential conviction of a corrupt Mayor, are the priorities in order?

In addition, the resolution is pretty much meaningless. I asked another Councilperson and a city staffer in the Finance Department how much business the city does with Arizona companies. Surprisingly, the answer was that to the best of their knowledge the answer was zero.

I guess we could also ask how many companies boycotted Hartford businesses when we became a "sanctuary city", and although I don't have any real numbers, I would venture to say that number is zero also.

Resolutions such as this may make the Council feel warm and fuzzy because they are doing something, but does it further the business of the City? Again, absolutely not. Does it bolster the image of the Council people in the community. Maybe, but then again maybe not.

Many people are not focused on what happens in Arizona. I'm sure they are trying to focus on what happens in Hartford though. Will they be able to stay in their apartments when the landlord increases their rents to pass on tax increases. Will they be able to keep their cars when the taxes increase and they can't pay them? Do they make the tough decision to pay the increased car taxes or pay their car insurance?

Or do they maybe take a lesson from the Hartford playbook and like our former Democratic Town Chairperson totally beat Hartford out of the revenue and find an address in another town with a lower mill rate to register their cars.

Councilperson Cotto is not the first councilperson to lose sight of his obligation to the people of Hartford first and foremost. In the past, numerous resolutions have been introduced for reasons totally unrelated to the duties of a Councilperson.

I can recall the resolution a few years ago addressed to the Bush Administration condemning the war in Iraq. That was such a powerful piece of legislation by the Council, that from what I understand, George W. laid awake for months unable to sleep since his policies had lost the support of the Hartford City Council.

And while the Council is on a "correct all ills" resolution binge, how about a resolution banning doing business with any California business. Aren't they the State that passed Proposition 8 banning same sex marriage. And a resolution against the Catholic Church might be in order, they are oppressing a woman's rights to choose how she wishes to treat her own body. And there must be a resolution in the making for something banning doing business with businesses in Alaska. After all, that's where Sarah Palin is from so something has to be wrong there.

While we're at it, lets pass a resolution banning any use of BP Petroleum products in the City of Hartford, look what they have done to the Gulf and the concrete around the device that failed was poured by Haliburton. Oh, and lets not forget a resolution banning any Hartford resident from staying at a Marriott Hotel. Remember the charge and the lawsuit led by Mayor Perez when the Hartford Marriott wouldn't unionize its workers and all the money the City spent on that battle? Something must be wrong there, so let's show them also.

Maybe once this Council takes care of the illegal border crossings in Arizona, they can renew that resolution opposing the war. But then again, someone might raise the issue that this council can't even control what is going on in its own borders.

To the "Nero's" of Hartford fiddling while Hartford burns, please focus, focus, focus.

Once you solve the problems of Hartford that you were elected to address, feel free to move on and solve the world's problems.

The entire bill is attached below. The notion that anyone can be stopped at anytime because of the "way they look" would seem to be untrue. I know, I'm caucasian so that is easy for me to say, but look at line 20 on page 2. The law only allows for verification "after any lawful contact by any law enforcement official". Jumping out of a cruiser, pouncing on someone because they "look illegal" as the protest t-shirts imply, seems to be unlawful. According to the law, probable cause needs to be present for the initial contact in the first place.

That is the same standard we deal with every day. A police officer needs probable cause to stop anyone of us for a minor motor vehicle violation. Is it easy to establish "probable cause"? Usually yes it is, a broken tail light, a bulb out, something hanging from your rear view mirror are all motor vehicle violations that can establish probable cause. Can it be abused by a police officer? Yes.

But on the other hand they are motor vehicle laws, enacted by our government that we have put into place. The same can be said of our immigration laws that have also been put into place by the government that we put into place. How do we make the decision which laws as a society we are going to enforce? Is there a mechanism we can use to change laws we don't agree with? Yes, it is called the voting booth ( or privacy kiosk if you are from Connecticut).

I've never used heroin, but there are those that choose to. Does that mean they have a right to break that law and ignore it without any repercussions? I don't think the argument would work in court. The same might apply to crossing Arizona's border illegally. Do you agree with the process and how it is enforced? Maybe, maybe not, but it is a law and there are alternatives to become a US citizen legally.

Can a police officer arrest someone because they "look" like a heroin addict. Definitely not. Can a police officer arrest someone if they have "probable cause" to believe the person is involved in drug activity and after further questioning find heroin on the person, then they have every right to arrest the person. We are a nation of laws and that is the way our system works. Enforcement of all laws , not just those we like or agree with.

Millions of others have played by the same set of rules, what makes Arizona's borders different.

Arizona Senate Bill 1070


peter brush said...

Coucilman Cotto is, I believe, a sincere lefty; one in a long line in the Hartford municipal government. He has no regard for the limits of government at any level, but only for "social justice" or some such tripe. Do we still have a relationship with the town in Nicaragua the council befriended in the eighties because it didn't like Reagan? Do we still have an ordinance that decries the evils of apartheid? How about we boycott Puerto Rico because it allows discrimination against sexually disoriented and "transgendered?"

Jeff said...

Just another fine example of a self serving Hartford politician. Let's waste time on an issue that matters to me while Hartford falls apart.

I'm sure if Arizona Governor Brewer got wind of Hartford's desire to boycott, her first thought would be... "Isn't that the capitol city with the Mayor on trial for corruption?"

Hartford should be keeping it's head low out of embarrassment and focusing on its own issues, not poking at other cities and states who already laugh at us and our Mayor.

peter brush said...

Well put, Jeff.
The situation here is really a disgrace and a joke. Unfortunately, the joke's on us. These clowns downtown want to spend $550 million this year and raise out taxes 10%. Cotto thinks of himself as on a student council government. The money just sort of arrives, and it is the council's job to distribute the dough to various student clubs (interest groups) and to make the occasional pious progressive public performance. And, while ostentatious liberal hymns emanate from 550 Main, the indicted mayor sits atop a crumby corrupt bloated bureaucracy. The best we can hope for is a new Mike Peters to replace the current crop of mad hatters. Or, might we hope for a state takeover with the imposition, as in Waterbury, of an oversight board?

Hugo Chavez said...

Cotto is a self serving person who,while owning no home or car in Hartford,is glad to tax us who do.Mr Cotto does have more filly working for the City or City funded non profit then any other Council member though.Of course Cotto is very close to Mayor Perez and as Jeff and Mr Brush did say his " left wing" stuff" is really just an illusion in which rhe resolutions are meaningless.His real concern for for his "non left wing agenda" of getting jobs,contracts and raises for his family and friends.

Juan Machatero said...

Cotto is a master politician who wont vote for a thing unless it will help him,his family or friends.His resolution is worthless and without force and effect.I have heard that Cotto doesnt own a home or a car but yet has voted for every one of Mayor Perez's tax increases the last 6 years.

Anonymous said...

Cotto has been in office for only two budgets. I don't know how he voted on the 08-09 budget, but he was one of four who voted against the 09-10 budget (Segarra, Cotto, Deutsch & Kennedy)

I'll be critical, but let's not resort to ad hominem attacks just because we disagree.

Ken Krayeske said...

I cannot agree with Kevin's premise that the ordinance against the war was overstretching by the Council in 2003.

More than 100 people filled Council Chambers that day. Mayor Perez strongarmed his Dems into not accepting it.

Bob Painter embraced Kevin's theory that Council had no place in international affairs. Many years later, with the war still raging, Council passed the resolution.

I, for one, think it would have had much more meaning in 2003.

Look at the March check register. $7 million to the IRS. $.51 of every dollar goes to military spending. That does not count the borrowing we are doing to pay for the war.

For you small government fiscal conservatives, please tell me how borrowing that much money is either fiscally conservative or helps reign in government spending.

The wars abroad have a direct impact on the City, and it was wise of Elizabeth Horton-Sheff to introduce that bill years ago.

Bruce Rubenstein said...

Over the many years of my activism the Council has passed many worthy resolutions that had no legal effect,so one more won't matter.This one by Luis is something I agree with ( the substance) and that is why I sent out the the US Justice Department an opinion on the 2 issues before them pertaining to the Arizona "papers please" law...they are the issue of federal "pre-emption and the issue of the seeming violation of civil rights and civil liberties of all those seemingly under "reasonable suspicion" under this draconian law.I think the state statute can be successfully challenged under the 4th,5th and 14th amendments.

Anonymous said...

While I do see your point, Kevin, I have to file this under a "it can happen here" label. Part of the issue with the AZ law is that if it stands, other states may pass similar laws and the next thing we know we have turned the country into a police state. Any opposition, even symbolic opposition, to a bad law matters. Plus, you know as well as I do this Council is not inclined to do anything about the problems you mentioned anyway. They are in a holding pattern until they find out what happens to Perez.

Anonymous said...

Perhaps I need a refresher in fifth grade civics. Does a municipal gov't in one state have the right to oversee the actions of a state gov't in another state? For crying outloud, concentrate on your work and solving your gov't problems instead of wasting your time and the local tax payer's money on drafting feel good/no impact resolutions. I think Mr. Brush's second comment hit the nail on the head. Didn't I see Cotto on TV last week trying to spend the tax payers' money on developing a NEW skateboard park downtown when Hartford's existing parks are in disrepair???