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.
Davis characterized the actions of Perez's attorney Hubert Santos as "begging" for help from Judge Dewey. They had a year to ask for help and I'm not sure why these motions waited to the last minute. What changed from the day of the first arrest when Santos proclaimed at the arraignment of Perez that they were ready to go to trial at 2:00PM that same afternoon.
The bulk of the arguments, as I understand them, is the volume of documents and evidence against Perez that the State intends to potentially use. Santos claims the documents were "dumped" on them and over 12,000 e-mails from just one person alone may be used. I'm sure there will be some good reading in there.
I have a simple suggestion for Attorney Santos. If your client is being honest with you, and I know we are talking about Eddie Perez so take a moment to explain honesty to him and then ask him a couple times if he understands what honesty means, just to be sure he gets the concept.
Once you are sure he gets it, watch his body language. He typically starts shuffling his feet and becomes very animated when he is lying. If you're not sure what I mean, pull up some footage of his press conferences. If he is standing at the podium, standing still, hands on the edge of the podium and speaking, he might be telling the truth. Then look at another footage, the City Hall "rally" after his second arrest might be a good one.
He is almost dancing, it looks like he was standing on a hornets nest, that's the body language I'm talking about when he's lying, oh yeah, allegedly.
Ok, so once you get that act down, you might ask him honestly what he has done. Hopefully he will lay it all out for you. You might have to re-enforce that "honesty" lesson periodically. Explain to him that by knowing what he has done it will make it easier for you to identify which of those 12,000 e-mails will be important. Explain to him that it doesn't look good for a defense attorney in front of a jury when the State launches that smoking gun during trial.
Hopefully this helps Hubie, I know you have your hands full. I think most people also realize you are doing what defense attorneys do, even when you have a stinker of a case. I would normally wish you good luck, but in all honesty I hope you lose, Hartford's future depends on it.
P.S. Hubie, If you need any help going through the boxes of evidence, I'm available to help.
This seems to be one of those posts that has raised more questions than it has answered.
I have received numerous calls and e-mails asking what type of disciplinary action has been taken against Eric Jackson. Apparently the answer is none.
It would seem that in this Administration, Jackson's activities are acceptable behavior. The fact that a city vehicle was issued to him, even though it appears to be a violation of policy, is apparently acceptable. The fact that he was using the vehicle on non-related city business and headed to a social function (i.e., a party) on a Saturday evening is also apparently acceptable.
It also would seem to be acceptable that he has been found responsible for the crash, originally left the scene of the accident and now has already cost the city in excess of $278,000, not including outside legal fees. It must also be acceptable that he has now brought the City of Hartford into another lawsuit as a defendant, potentially that can result in a decision costing millions.
No disciplinary action against Eric "Crash" Jackson, yet numerous others that have done far less have been terminated. This should work well for some of those who have been terminated though when the question is raised about equal treatment for violations of City policy's.
Some of your calls have provided interesting information though, I welcome the information and promise to pursue all of your tips.
Also, according to the Hartford Tax Collector's website, Mr. Jackson did not own a personal vehicle at the time, nor does he own a vehicle now, at least not one that is registered or taxed in Hartford.
In a lawsuit pending in Superior Court against the City of Hartford and Hartford MHIS Director Eric Jackson count two of the complaint states "On said date and at said time, the defendant, Eric Jackson, was operating a motor vehicle with permission of the owner/defendant, City of Hartford".
That statement might just be the furthest thing from the truth. In a city where "take home cars" are handed out like candy, MHIS Director Erick Jackson apparently found a way to get his hand into the candy jar. Although recently appointed Public Works Director Kevin Burnham said there are specific policies regarding who gets cars and how they may be used, that policy has pretty much been ignored before Burnham's appointment.
On the evening of August 11, 2007 , MHIS Director Jackson was travelling southbound on Interstate 91 in a City vehicle. According to Connecticut State Police, Jackson was responsible for causing an accident that injured the driver of another vehicle that was also headed southbound. Jackson was ticketed by the trooper, and the full accident report is attached below.
According to a source though, Jackson should have never been issued a "take home car". Apparently based on a relationship with another City of Hartford employee "the rules were bent" and Jackson was given a take home car for his use. Apparently a violation of city policy, but we are talking about Hartford City Hall where the rules only apply to the other guys.
Jackson lives at the Hartford 21 building, less than 5 blocks from his office , so the need for a take home car is extremely questionable. Regardless though, the city policy is that the vehicles are used for city business and personal use is prohibited.
Jackson's use of the vehicle, according to my source, was to head to a party on a Saturday evening. As he headed south on 91, he appears to have been in violation of the City's own policy. The date of the accident was 8/11/2007 which was a Saturday.
A law suit has been filed by the victim of Jackson's actions. But even with the lawsuit pending, it appears that over $278,000 has already been paid out in this case. In documents provided to me of accident payments for numerous city vehicle accidents, Jackson has the largest payout on the list.
In addition to Jacksons apparently improper actions costing the taxpayers of Hartford $278,000 it potentially will cost much much more. An outside law firm has already been hired to defend the suit and it may prove expensive. When you look at the "loss record" of Corporation Counsel John Rose though, it will probably be a smart decision.
The question that arises though is how does someone like Mr. Jackson still have a job after an incident like this. His actions potentially will cost millions to the City of Hartford, as according to the accident report, the City of Hartford is "self insured". It seems as though corrective actions have been taken by the city against Jackson. In my FOI request I had asked for any "disciplinary" documents , and none were provided.
And finally, if there is any question that John Rose needs to go, read the e-mail below.
What do you think would happen to someone in the private sector that made a sexist or inappropriate remark like Rose did in the e-mail "Maria...met your husband last week...you are much better looking".
Is it any wonder that the City of Hartford can function at all under the incompetent leadership of Mayor Eddie Perez. The proof just keeps surfacing every day, but after a while you have to wonder how long many of the Perez staffers would survive in the "real world" of the private sector.
I wonder how many people managing construction projects in the private sector would keep a job if the project they were overseeing collapsed. This the case of the new Public Safety complex under the management of the Perez Capital Projects Director James Keaney. I wonder how many architects and engineers would have their invoices paid if they were part of a project that is stalled after the project structure collapsed.
But, in the end, don't worry, all is fine, this is Eddie's world.
If you were an attorney in private practice, how long would you last if you "lost" a check for over $100,000 and then retaliated against the person who originally wrote the check that you lost? That is the case of a contractor who was involved in the Hartford High School project. Because of an apparent overpayment, contractor Rick Rowe of Rowe Construction wrote a check to the City of Hartford for reimbursement of over $100,000. Assistant Corporation Counsel Carl Nasto apparently acknowledged receipt of the check. The acknowledgement was made prior to someone from the City "losing" the check.
Subsequent payments to Rowe for other work that has been done have not been paid. Rowe is upset, and I can't say that I blame him. Sounds like a lawsuit coming on this one.
But as if we need to be reminded that this administration shouldn't even be entrusted with running a hot dog cart in Bushnell Park, more proof keeps coming in.
Last night I was provided with a document that was completed as the result of a Council budget question. It seems that the Council, for whatever reason, wanted a list of the "terminations" of City employees for the period of July 1, 2009 through April 21, 2010. The list was provided by Perez staffers and submitted to the Council.
I was somewhat surprised when I looked at the list and saw one person who was listed on the list and the reason for his termination was listed as "deceased" as of 2/28/10. Since I had seen Lieutenant Christopher Mefford of the Police Department recently, I couldn't believe he looked so good for being deceased for a couple months.
It just makes you wonder, if they can't even tell who is dead or alive how can we trust any of their other information. It sounds like something Mark Twain might have made a comment about.
I confirmed that Lt. Mefford is alive and Chief Roberts also confirmed that. Chief Roberts said he would correct the matter, but I suggested he fill the Lt's spot quickly if they had an opening. Probably no one would catch it at City Hall.
As requested, here is the map showing the location and victims information for Hartford's homicides for 2010. Click on any of the markers to view the specific information. The markers are in alphabetical order with "A" being the first homicide of the year. The markers also show the method of homicide as well as if the case is open or cleared by an arrest.
If you have information regarding any of these homicides, I encourage you to call the Hartford Police Department, Major Crimes Division at 860-757-4000. If you are not sure about doing that, rest assured you can do it anonymously by e-mailing me or contacting Hartford Crimestoppers. Please try to provide as much information as possible, every bit of information, no matter how small, can provide a missing piece of the puzzle to solve these crimes.
After this posting moves down into the archives, the map will permanently be available in the right column below the Hartford monthly check register. Just click and drag the map to get to the area you want, and use the sliding scale on the left to zoom in or out on the map.
The more I "play" with this blog the more I learn all the features I haven't been using.
"My Blog List" has been added and can be viewed in the right hand column. Since I think blogs attract more of an audience when the information is fresh, I have also included the feature that shows you the last time an entry was added. If you see someone with "old" entries, nudge them a little bit for some updated content (I know you are a busy guy Chief and you too Councilman).
The City of Hartford's check register was posted in today's blog posting. I will try to keep a couple months worth as I get them in the right hand column. Just click on the month and review them. Hopefully the spirit of co-operation and transparency will continue and they will be readily available each month.
COMING SOON: A couple months ago a reader had requested a map showing the locations of Hartford's homicides. I'm getting close to figuring that out and it should be ready any day now.
A link to the "1Hartford" program has been in the right column for a few weeks also. As Stan McCauley continues to build his "on-line network", accesstv.org, he is tweaking its operations. It seems to be best viewed using the Firefox web browser, but recent changes seem to be making it easier to use. Click on the "1Hartford" logo to view the current weeks program.
Most of these additions are suggestions coming from readers, so if there is something you would like to see to make the blog more interesting, feel free to suggest it. And no Eddie, Susan and Sarah, shutting down the blog is not a helpful suggestion.
A few weeks ago, one of my readers had pointed me to the City of New London's website, where they post their financial information, including the monthly check register. I thought that was a great idea and showed that some cities actually try to be transparent.
Last week, I requested Hartford's check register through an FOIA request. As I go further with the blog, I'm learning valuable lessons. One of those is to avoid Corporation Counsel John Rose's nonsense and his total disregard for FOI requests.
I made my request directly to Hartford's Chief Operating Officer David Panagore. I was pleasantly surprised when the same day I made the request I saw Mr. Panagore in City Hall and he approached me and said he had received the request and would have it shortly. There were no obscenity laced e-mails, no arrogant letters, no roadblocks or hurdles, just a prompt compliance with the law.
Apparently Mr. Panagore graduated from a Law School that actually taught something, as opposed to the vending machine Mr. Rose got his law degree from.
Since FOI is not an area that officials deal with every day, Mr. Panagore and myself e-mailed back and forth a couple of times with a couple of questions he had and I replied with answers. I guess I'll have to wait and see how this progresses in the future, but it actually gave me a good feeling that Panagore was willing to ask questions if he was unsure, rather than just winging it as Mr. Rose seems to regularly do.
I am by no means an FOI expert, but I have made it a point to learn and understand the FOI Act and I am more than willing to pass that on when I can.
When I opened my e-mail this morning, there was an e-mail from Mr. Panagore with a PDF file attached of the City of Hartford's March 2010 check register. Ok, another check mark in the plus column for David Panagore.
The check register is below, take a look and see what you think. I only just started going through it page by page, but the first big question is $106,000 to Star Hardware ? I'm sure a lot more will jump out as we all look at it though and raise questions.
I just got home from the Hartford City Council Budget hearings and after turning on the TV to check up on the RED SOX, I logged on to courant.com to see if anything new was going on. After looking at the "breaking news" I scrolled down to look at the Courant's blogs.
After listening to a couple of hours of the smoke and mirrors of the Perez budget being explained, I wanted to check the "Capitol Watch" blog to see what was being done in the final hours of the legislative session to reduce the budget gap. Instead of finding a headline about work being done in the final 24 hours of the session, there was a headline that read "Finalists Named For Best-Dressed At Capitol; Defending Champions Cafero And Klarides Are In The Running". You can read the full entry by clicking here
My first thought before reading the full entry was "what pompous fool from Fairfield County would waste the time on something like that?"
Does the legislature not realize that people are losing their jobs and losing their homes. In addition to the State budget, cities like Hartford are on the brink of failing and all some rich legislator is worried about is who is the best dressed?
Many people in Hartford can't even afford basic necessities and here some legislator is worried about who looks best in Gucci loafers or a Ralph Lauren suit?
Imagine my surprise when I read the article and saw that the legislator that I thought was some "pompous fool" was none other than our own Hartford State Representative Kenneth Green. Apparently the best dressed title is awarded by Rep. Kenneth Green's annual contest for the best dressed legislators and lobbyists at the state Capitol.
Is it any wonder that Hartford, and the state for that matter, is the mess it is. Rather than focusing on correcting the mess we call government, we can sleep sound at night knowing that Hartford's state representative Kenneth Green has taken on the role of Chief of the Connecticut State Capitol Fashion Police.
I wasn't convinced before tonight, but maybe it is time for some shakeups in the Hartford Delegation.
Oh, and the Red Sox just took the lead 4 to 1 on a base clearing double.
A couple months ago, Hartford Police Lieutenant Jason Thody was apparently "partaking" of Hartford's night life with a couple buddies of his in the Union Place area downtown. During that time there was apparently also two members of the United States Marine Corp also"partaking" of Hartford's night life.
Unfortunately, as the night progressed the paths of the Marines home on leave and the paths of Lieutenant Thody and his buddies crossed. As is a nightly occurrence in the Union Place area, the mix of alcohol and testosterone can be problematic. From here the story has a couple versions depending which one you hear.
The Hartford Police Internal Affairs report hasn't been released yet, but here's what various police sources have told me. Apparently, the two Marines and Thody's two buddies got into an altercation. Here's where the two versions veer off though. In one version, Thody was also an aggressor, in the other version Thody was trying to break up the fight. An officer that was also at the scene that night told me the first scenario was correct and Thody came close, in his words, to "taking a pinch". Translation is that Thody almost got arrested.
Fast forward to the fight being broken up and the end result was the Marines both got arrested and the Lieutenant and his buddies walked away. Actually, from what I am told, Thody didn't just "walk away", he had to seek treatment for a broken nose. Like I said, don't mess with the Marines. Again, I'm not sure what the IAD report shows, but apparently it did show fault on Thody's part.
Thody was demoted today from a Lieutenant back to Sergeant for his involvement. I have not been able to find any information on the status of the Marines court cases. Hopefully the court also did the right thing and dismissed the charges.
When I post here, especially when someones activities are called into question, I always wonder if I have covered all angles to get all the facts. Today was one of those days.
The blog posting yesterday about those "feeding at the trough" set a record for the blog. As of this afternoon 32 comments had been posted and a good dialogue (for the most part) was going on. But then my first call of the morning was from a "real" journalist who's opinion and advice I respect very much, not to mention that they are usually right on the mark. The caller asked me where the comment was from the Ebony Horsewomen.
I thought the documents and the facts spoke for themselves. Apparently that is not the way it works I was told. Helen Ubinas had given me similar advice a couple months ago and I have tried to get comments from the subjects of the postings when it was appropriate. The Archdiocese of Hartford's spokesperson refused to comment last week on Eddie's prayer vigil tonight and I posted that.
So to be fair, I went to 337 Vine Street, the location of the City owned stables housing the Ebony Horsewomen, Inc. I asked for Patricia Kelly and a woman loading a washing machine replied "that's me". I had met her about a year ago, but today she was in "work" clothes.
I told her why I was there and we sat down in a little room apparently used as a classroom. I asked her about the questions I had and her answers flowed out precise and to the point. I was thinking I had misjudged her and the operation. As much as I wanted to believe, something just wasn't clicking on my sincerity meter. The answers were too perfect, but I wanted to believe.
How can you not believe what you are being told when I told her "thanks for answering my questions , I'm all set now" only to be stopped and told "no you can't leave until I give you the tour. Ok, I wanted to be open minded, I wanted to believe
The tour started at the trophy case and then we walked into the stable area, where immediately we were met by a kitten that she spoke to like it was a child. Then out into the paddock area and the chicken coop where she explained how "the kids" are amazed when they see where an egg actually comes from. Then "take a look over here at the baby bunnies" as she poked her finger into the cage and talked to the mother bunny with her babies huddled in the corner.
And who isn't impressed by the majestic nature of a horse prancing around the corral. But I just still wasn't convinced. But I wanted to believe, really I did. Her explanation essentially was that the $108,000 was paid to her because she was actually saving the organization money. Reverse then play, let me hear that again? Yes, she needed health insurance and her husband needed health insurance. Her husband had preexisting conditions and was pretty much uninsurable. Ok, still losing you here, but I'm trying to follow.
She pays roughly $1800.00 a month for insurance for just the two of them. I understand that but why does the organization pay for that? They don't, she said, that's why they pay her $108,000.Ok, a little quick math here but I asked her, $1800.00 multiplied by 12 is what, $22,000 maybe $24,000 per year and that saves money by them paying you $108,000.00?
Yes, because we add our Workers Compensation insurance in there also. Ok, I guess I just may not understand this modern math.
And not to beat a dead horse, oops, sorry, probably not the right term. Not to ask too many questions but is it proper to be boarding horses and charging people to do that, when you pay the city nothing for rent and where does that money go, to the programs? That answer was simple and quick, "I do not board horses here for people".
After I left I just kept playing her answers over and over, I really do want to believe. But then this afternoon I got three calls and at least two e-mails relating to the posting. They were all from people that were very familiar with the Ebony Horsewomen and they all appreciated information that they were aware of being brought out..
I might add that none of the five individuals were people that had an "ax to grind" as far as I knew. And in fact I was speaking with one of my "confidants" about one of the e-mails and the response was "wow, I've never heard him say anything bad about anyone".
This whole matter really had me thinking how could this be made to look good or if I was in her position how would I justify it.
Just to back up a little, before I met with her I looked at her 2006, 2007 990's in addition to the 2008 990 that I had posted yesterday. I was troubled by a $3000.00 "bonus" she paid to herself as President of the Board in 2006 and the same type of $95,000 plus payments to Diversified Equus, Inc. for all three years.
And then finally, I called four people that serve on some high profile non-profit Boards to see if I was overreacting. I explained the scenario of the payments from a non-profit back to a private corporation owned by the President of the non-profit. I asked them if the actions were proper and the answers from all four were identical....."absolutely not". Two of them even went so far as to say I needed to contact the Attorney General's Office immediately.
Andrea Comer sent out an invite through "Facebook" for a worthwhile event .
The information is below, click on the link to find out more about the screening of "the Lottery".
According to Andrea,"The film profiles four New York families as they go through the school choice lottery process. Given Connecticut's achievement gap, legislative efforts this session, and the national focus on education reform, this film could not be more meaningful and timely.www.thelotteryfilm.com".
The screening will be held on Thursday , May 13, 2010 from 5:00 to 8:00PM at the Jumoke Auxiliary Building at 230 Scarborough Street in Hartford, CT.
After getting fed up with the lack of openness in Hartford City Hall, I decided to begin a program on Hartford Public Access Television called "WE THE PEOPLE". Through tips received we have been able to expose numerous issues that the Perez Administration would prefer to keep quiet.
Any information received is kept in strict confidence, feel free to e-mail me at email@example.com or call me at 860-883-2297 with any information.