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Friday, January 8, 2010


Some of you may have already watched our "1 Hartford" program, produced by Stan McCauley, on Hartford Public Access Television. Other's may live outside the coverage area or missed the 10:00PM Saturday airing or Sunday at 8:00AM repeat time.

The show has proven very popular as we discuss issues facing Hartford and also try to discuss possible solutions. The weekly cast of characters include myself, Stan McCauley, retired Hartford Deputy Police Chief Gerry Pleasent, Bishop John Selders and Angel Morales. Special guests occasionally appear, and have included Connecticut Republican Party Chairperson Chris Healey, State Representative Minnie Gonzalez, Hartford Council people Ken Kennedy and Dr. Larry Deutsch among others.

I'm going to try to present a preview of each weeks program, as well as the direct link to the show on Stan's Internet TV station, Just click and watch.

This week on the program we highlight Hartford Mayor Eddie A. Perez's recent appearance in TIME magazine as one of the 14 "Mugshots of 2009" and discuss whether anyone really is leading Hartford. We also discuss the revelation this week that Hartford Democratic Town Chairperson Sean Arena has apparently been dodging Hartford's high tax rate as both he and his brother register their cars in New Canaan. Bishop Selders brings up the issue of Hartford Schools and the quality of education being delivered.

Is it time for a makeover as the lipstick appears to be coming off the pig? How will Hartford deal with the budget mess and where will the money or the necessary cuts come from. We also discuss the level of continuing corruption at Hartford City Hall as this weeks released Labor decision outlines large thefts from the Tax Collector's Office, yet no request for a Police investigation.




After having the police called on me yesterday while I was trying to obtain documents from the Democratic Registrar of Voters, I quickly realized that toes were being stepped on.

Then this morning I read cityline on and read the comment that essentially said I was a racist and had a problem with latino and "AA" women. I assume they abbreviated "AA" to mean African-American, maybe they didn't know how to spell it. The other "AA" wouldn't make any sense.

I started to wonder how you would defend yourself against an "anonymous" charge of racism. But then I realized that anyone who knows me would probably say that I was color blind when it comes to dealing with people, and my actions hopefully speak louder than any statement of defense would.

Then I get a phone call from Steve Goode, a reporter at the Courant. He claimed that "someone" had sent him copies of outstanding Personal Property Tax bills for my business. For those who follow this blog, you are well aware that when I use documents I double and triple check their authenticity.

One of the reasons for numerous FOI requests is to get the original documents right from the source. I have many good sources that send me numerous documents, but before I will use them , I verify that they are accurate. I will typically not use a document from a "single source". I make it a point to verify it.

Well, apparently the spineless, I mean "anonymous", source who sent the Courant the bills, never bothered to verify if they were accurate. They are not accurate. In their haste, they failed to check and realize that the bills were being sent to an address I have not had an office at for several years. When I contacted the Assessors Office, I spoke with a person who was more than accommodating. Unlike the Democratic Registrar, this person was actually a credit to the City and understood customer service.

She asked for my number and said she would look into it. Being the City of Hartford, I thought "ok, I won't hold my breath waiting for that call, this will be a battle".If my phone log is accurate, within seven minutes she called back and the issue was on the way to being resolved.

She had verified that the building had been sold, my business had apparently not been there and subject to the taxes in question. She further apologized for the mistake and vowed to work with me to rectify it. She advised me what she would need to reverse the bills and within minutes, it seemed to be worked out.

She apologized a couple more times and explained that due to the lack of staff, returned mail just goes into boxes and no one researches it. She said they used to but just can't anymore. I appreciated her apologies, but told her it's not her fault. She was definitely a breath of fresh air when it came to someone on the city level being helpful.I will admit there were probably mistakes on both sides, but unlike the Arena's, nothing even remotely criminal.

To those who wish to sling mud and discredit me, I called the Assessor within minutes after Steve Goode made me aware of it. Has Sean or Ralph Arena contacted the New Canaan Assesor to clear up their problem. I would bet they haven't. I have given Sean Arena the opportunity to present his side, so far the call hasn't been returned.

Some people might question why I would keep pushing on issues like this and is it making any change. Anyone who knows me knows I'm pretty mellow, but once you get the "Irish" up, watch out. The Perez Administration and others involved in city politics have tried to silence me and discredit me, but rest assured, I will live in a cardboard box in Bushnell Park before anyone forces me out of Hartford or into silence.

And for those who tell me to "get a life", this is a large part of my life, but not the only part. And just a word of advice, contact the last person who told me to "get a life" and ask how that worked out for her.

Thursday, January 7, 2010


Photo of Abe Gile's warehouse at 740 Windsor Street. Abe , just a thought but the word is B-I-L-L-I-A-R-D-S for the banner. You might try getting a refund for the banner

For those not familiar with the Grand Jury investigation into our leader, Mayor Eddie A. Perez, the above building was apparently a topic of much testimony and investigation.

During the investigation by State investigators, documents were uncovered to show that a plan was devised to order large construction dumpsters so political operative and alleged Perez co-conspirator Abe Giles could clean out the above warehouse. The city initially paid for the dumpsters and after the investigation began, invoices were created for Giles to pay back the city for the dumpster bills.

Now that Giles is renovating for the "Windsor Street Recreation Center and Billiards Parlor" the dumpsters will probably be needed again.

The only problem at this point is that Giles will have to pay the delinquent property taxes on the property before any building permits can be issued for renovations.

Oh wait, now that I think about it, the Mayor never bothered with permits for his kitchen and bathroom renovations, so why should Abe?


Over the last several days I have received numerous calls questioning actions by the Democratic Registrar of Voters Olga Vazquez in removing voters from the voting lists.I will admit that most of the callers appear to be politically motivated since Vazquez's actions, according to the callers, is cutting down on members to the Democratic Town Committee.

Apparently though, according to the callers, this is not a citywide purging of voters. Rather, it seems to be selective to decrease the number of delegates in specific districts that are less than "accepting" of the current Hartford "leadership".

In an effort to prove or disprove these allegations, I went to the Registrar of Voters Office to obtain the list of purged or "inactive " voters for the last few months. Although the employees at the front desk in the Registrar's Office were very accommodating. their boss Olga Vasquez was a totally different story. Once employee even went so far as to tell me that they had received a 14 page report that very morning covering what I was looking for, so it wouldn't be a problem.

Then Vazquez emerged from her office and demanded to know what I wanted and why did I want it. I repeated my request and Vazquez stopped for a minute and the "deer in the headlights " look overcame her. She then thought for a minute and replied that I needed to put the request in writing.

(Recently, Vazquez was ordered by the FOI Commission to attend an FOI Training session as the result of a seetlement of a complaint against her. I had hoped the training would be beneficial, but apparently not. Hopefully the next time a $1000.00fine will get her attention)

OK, no problem Olga. I took out my Blackberry, hit compose e-mail and asked for her e-mail address so I could send her the request. Apparently she became more agitated when I asked her when the report would be ready since her staffers had just told me it was done that morning.

She began saying that she didn't work for me and she didn't just sit around waiting for my requests. I guess that is fair since she must be extremely busy hitting the delete key on her keyboard as she purges voters en-masse in the non Perez kool-aid drinking districts.

As she stormed back toward her office, I mentioned to one of the staffers "I guess they don't teach customer service to our elected officials". Vazquez heard my comment and quickly returned asking "what did you say? what did you say?". I repeated the comment and added, "your customer service is terrible". She then began saying "do you want to be escorted out of here? I'm calling the police"

She fumbled with the phone but seemed to be making little progress. I offered to call the City Hall police officer, Officer DiScenzo, myself, but I got his voice mail.

Rather than waste time, I had to make a stop in the Council Offices, I told Vazquez to send the officers to the Council Offices if they wanted to speak with me. I never thought she would be insecure or ignorant enough to call the police and waste their time.

Well, she did. A few minutes later an officer walked into the Council office looking for me. He asked for my version and I told him exactly what is written above. He then related that he asked Vazquez if I threatened her and she said no. He asked her if I was using obscene language and she said no. Apparently Vazquez told the officer that she felt I was harassing her.

At one point someone in the Council office even handed the Police Officer a copy of the FOI law and he read it. He then stated to no one in particular, "it says right here that he has the right to walk in and ask for public documents". The officer didn't even have to study the statute, he got it right away. (maybe he can get a job in the Corporation Counsel office)

Excuse me Olga, but you ran for the position, now do your job. A resident and citizen requesting public documents is not harassment it is you fulfilling your obligation under the law.

As the old saying says "where there is smoke there is fire". If the Democratic Registrar's reaction to my request for public documents is any indication, I think we might have a five-alarm fire here.

I'll keep you posted as to where this goes.

And a note to Chief Roberts: your officers were extremely professional. The first officer to respond, Officer Ortolazo and his "backup" who's name I didn't get are a credit to your department. It's just sad their time was wasted on something like this
(and yes, the Chief does read this blog)

Wednesday, January 6, 2010


UPDATE*** Thursday, January 7, 2010 - the corrected full version of the Arbitration Award PDF document is below. The original scan had missing pages

On October 27, 2005 Vilma Rivera-Saez began working for the City of Hartford in the Tax Collector's Office. Everything appeared to progress smoothly as she worked her way up to supervising cashier in the Tax Office.

At some point prior to August of 2008, Ms. Rivera-Saez apparently began noticing cash shortages in the daily cash receipts. Sources familiar with these shortages told me that Ms. Rivera-Saez had noticed suspicious activities by another employee in the cashier's office, and allegedly reported these suspicions to, at the time, Acting Tax Collector and Deputy Finance Director Lydia Rosario.

This attempt at reporting the thefts and suspicious behavior to Lydia Rosario was apparently the start of a chain of events that resulted in the eventual termination of Vilma Rivera-Saez from the City of Hartford.

According to the State of Connecticut Department of Labor, Arbitration Award (full report attached below)numerous details raise more questions than answers.

Apparently the person that was allegedly suspected by Rivera-Saez and others in the Tax Collector's Office, according to the report and City Hall sources, was a fairly new employee in the office, Yordano Vazquez. Whether Rivera-Saez knew Yordano Vazquez's ties to acting Tax Colector Lydia Rosario before raising her suspicions is unknown, but according to the Arbitration Award report, Rosario and Vazquez were very tightly connected.

The report details that both Mr. Vazquez and Lydia Rosario, the Tax Department head at the time, were both congregants of the same church. If that wasn't enough, the report states that Mr. Vazquez "is engaged to be married to Ms. Rosario's niece".

During the course of the hearing, testimony was entered stating that the city was unable "to account for more than $12,000 in cash shortages from July through December 2007". Although the city never produced any information or evidence that showed Rivera-Saez was in any way responsible for the thefts, on August 4, 2008 she was terminated from her position.

The interesting part is that although Rivera-Saez, as well as others, were complaining to Acting Tax Collector Lydia Rosario about their suspicions, Vilma was the one branded a thief. The arbitration panel apparently didn't buy that accusation. They state that "Although the City implied that the grievant (Vilma Rivera-Saez)had "stolen" money through an improper deposit scheme, there was no evidence offered to show the grievant was, in fact, a thief".

The panel further questioned the degree of punishment handed out by Rosario and former Chief Operating Officer Lee Erdmann. The panel considered Rivera-Saez's "unblemished disciplinary record" and said it appeared that Rivera-Saez received the "ultimate level of discipline, termination" while the cashier, Yordano Vazquez, "was only given a slap on the wrist".

Although this whole report would seem to raise some serious "red flags" regarding the looseness of cash procedures and controls in the Tax Office, the way it was handled by the City Auditors and Administration is even more troubling.

In the summer of 2008, apparently before Vilma Rivera-Saez was terminated, the City Auditor Patrick Campbell began to investigate a series of cash shortages in the Tax Collector's Office. Campbell's investigation revealed a scheme in which checks were substituted for cash in several daily deposits made during the month of November 2007.

Campbell apparently found that "someone" was taking cash out of the daily receipts and replacing the cash with checks received in the mail. Campbell testified at the hearing regarding the scheme "It operated by, say for instance, cash of $1,000 was received, just for instance,during a particular daily transaction. What happened was that some of that cash,a check coming in from and outside source, in this case coming in through the mail, was taken and was placed in that batch of cash, swapped out from the batch of cash. They took $500.00 out of the cash, put the check in there so it would still equal $1000.00".

Although Campbell's investigation showed clear criminal activity on the part of individuals in the Tax Collector's Office, no mention was made during any testimony as to an investigation or any inquiry by the Hartford Police Department. HPD sources have confirmed that no request for an investigation was ever made by acting Tax Collector Rosario or Auditor Patrick Campbell nor was an investigation into over $12,000 in stolen cash ever conducted.

Although no evidence ever pointed to Vilma Rivera-Saez indicating she had any part in the thefts, the Union brief quoted in the report indicates she was singled out by acting Tax Collector Lydia Rosario who was "looking for a scapegoat" and "simply blamed the grievant( Rivera-Saez)rather than her niece's fiance".

One hearing officer,Attorney Marc S. Mandell, in his written opinion stated "The scheme was not terribly sophisticated or difficult to understand...the scheme collapsed as it inevitably had to, given how clumsy it was".

The scheme was clumsy, as was the City's response and subsequent investigation. Many questions are still unanswered, the real thief has not been identified or prosecuted and the money has not been recovered.

In the end, the Board decided that "the City of Hartford did not have just cause to terminate Vilma Rivera-Saez".

It seems like someone with a little common sense could have realized that right from the start.

The entire report on the Arbitration Award is below

Arbitration Award Vilma Rivera Saez


If nothing else was learned from the Tiger Woods scandal by anyone in the public eye, it should be this, tell the truth up front and move on. Lies and untruths have a way of being proved false very easily.

After seeing the copy of a tax bill that Sean Arena faxed to the Courant. I decided to check and verify that the information was accurate. According to the Hartford Tax Collector's Office, it is not.

According to the Tax Collectors Office's records, the tax bill in question does not show Sean Arena anywhere on the account for James Holcomb. Printouts from the "Munis" system are below. (Munis is the City of Hartford's software program). Officials in the Tax Collector's Office stated unequivocally that Sean Arena was absolutely not listed on the Holcomb tax account.

Arena did cut a lucky break though courtesy of the "MUNIS" system. According to the Tax Collector's Office staff, widespread problems have occurred due to the outside vendor hired by the city for printing and mailing tax bills. Apparently numerous complaints have been received because tax bills are being addressed to the proper owners of the vehicle, and the Munis system for some reason is also adding the listed owner of the mailing address the bills are going to onto the bill also.

In the case of the bill faxed to the Courant, Jay Holcomb is the registered owner of the vehicle and since Arena is the owner of 79-C Morris Street, the MUNIS glitch also added him to the bill. A preliminary check with the Motor Vehicle Department also confirms that Sean Arena IS NOT LISTED on the registration for Holcomb's vehicle, CT Registration 879-WCT.

A call was made to Sean Arena for comment, as of this time he has not returned the call. If Arena is able to provide any documentation, such as a registration showing his name on it for the vehicle in question, I will gladly post that here.

Several people have called me in regards to what action the City will take to recover any revenue owed to the City of Hartford by the Arena's. I spoke with Hartford Tax Collector Marc Nelson and although he would not discuss a specific case or a specific individual on the record, he did outline the power given to him by Connecticut State law.

Nelson stated that under Connecticut law he is empowered to collect taxes on the Grand List. Apparently it is the responsibility of the Tax Assessor to investigate and place the untaxed vehicles onto the Grand List. At the time the Assessor places the vehicles on the Grand List, Nelson as the Tax Collector has 30 days to act and bill the vehicles accordingly. That would include any taxes, penalties, interest etc. The taxpayer would then have 30 days to pay the bill.

A word of advice to Sean Arena, tell the truth, reimburse the City for lost taxes , penalties and interest, register your vehicles in Hartford and move on.


Holcomb Tax Records

Tuesday, January 5, 2010


While researching the City of Hartford's on-line tax database system, I found many names of people in "leadership" positions in Hartford who were delinquent on their motor vehicle taxes. I have spoke with several of them and the response was pretty much the same. They are all struggling to make ends meet and they are unable to afford Hartford's high taxes and ever increasing mill rate.

One of Hartford's "leaders" who did not show any past due motor vehicle taxes owed in Hartford was Democratic Town Committee Chairman Sean Arena. Oddly enough though, neither Sean Arena or his brother Ralph Arena showed any vehicles at all registered or taxed in Hartford. Ralph Arena is a member of the 4th District Town Committee.

Since I know they both drive vehicles, I was wondering how this was possible.

The next stop was a visit to the Connecticut Motor Vehicle Department to find out if the Arena's had vehicles in their names and if so, where were they taxed? Surprisingly, DMV records showed that both Sean and Ralph Arena had vehicles registered to them and taxed in the Town of New Canaan, Connecticut. By Connecticut law, the vehicles must be taxed in the town where they are "garaged", in this case, Hartford. Not in the town with the lowest tax rate.

Their bills were both sent to an address of 156 South Avenue in New Canaan, Connecticut. According to the Town of New Canaan, 156 South Avenue is a low income/senior housing project. Apparently the Arena's sister, Patricia Arena is a resident of this complex and the bills are sent to her unit.

You might ask why the Arena's would choose to register their cars at an address not their own? The answer is quite simple when you consider the financial gain to the Arena brothers. New Canaan's mill rate is 13 mills, Hartford's mill rate 68 mills. This difference has resulted in a savings of thousands of dollars for Sean and Ralph Arena, while fleecing the City of Hartford of thousands of dollars of much needed revenue.

It most likely would also result in substantial insurance savings for registering the cars outside of Hartford.

All of this information was obtained through public documents and public information from agencies that understand and respect the Freedom of Information Act. Thank you to the DMV and the Town of New Canaan.

More government as usual for Hartford it would appear. Hopefully the Tax Collector and the States Attorney's office will take note and look into this matter.

4:30PM UPDATE- In an effort to divert attention, Sean Arena has apparently offered to the Hartford Courant to produce a Hartford Tax bill showing that he and his partner, James Holcomb did pay taxes on a vehicle registered in Hartford. The problem is that the vehicle is his partners vehicle, not his Audi. A challenge to Sean, produce the tax bill for your vehicle that you drive, not your partners. You may have to go to New Canaan to get a copy of it.

Arena's Tax Printouts


Many of you may recall the questionable move by Hartford Democratic Registrar of Voters Olga Vazquez to hire Democratic operative Prenzina Holloway during this past November's election. As a result of that hiring and the subsequent coverage, it came to light that Holloway was delinquent on her motor vehicle taxes.

As a result, Hartford Tax Collector Marc Nelson seized Holloway's check for her services and applied it to her back taxes. I support that move, but it raises the question whether Holloway was the exception to that policy.

Apparently she was. City of Hartford Tax documents show that Connecticut State Marshal, Perez ally and Democratic operative Abe Giles is also deeper in debt to the City for back taxes than Holloway was. Giles continues to receive payments from the City for a moving and storage contract from the City of Hartford to handle civil eviction proceedings.

What was good to settle Holloway's delinquency should also apply to Giles back taxes.

Below is the most recent accounting for Giles's taxes on only one property. Other tax bills are also delinquent and the amount is higher than the $11,943.92 shown on this one bill.


Giles Tax Bill