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Friday, November 26, 2010


"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


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.


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


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.


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 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.


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