Wednesday, December 1, 2010
Luckily I have unlimited minutes on my cell phone because it seems to be ringing constantly. Probably the number one subject now is regarding the replacement of outgoing Councilmembers. One is leaving on a high note as he ascends to the State Legislature, the other on a low note after a corruption scandal and her arrest toppled her 17 year political career. Thank you Matt for your service to Hartford and continued success at the Capitol.
What they both have in common is the rush by Council President rJo Winch to fill those seats. Although it took weeks to fill the Council seat vacated by Mayor Segarra's rise to the Mayor's office, the rush to fill Matt Ritter's seat before the body is even cold (sorry Matt)is highly questionable. The theory being laid out earlier in the week was that Winch had the five votes on the Council to slide her pick in under the "political" radar without any problem. It appears that Winch's pic is her close friend, Sean Arena.
Winch apparently isn't concerned with information that came out earlier this year regarding Arena's registering his vehicles in New Canaan to avoid Hartford's high taxes and mill rate. To read that entry, click here
The votes seemed to be in place for Arena and Winch earlier in the week, but that was also thrown upside down after the announced "retirement" of the corrupt Councilwoman mentioned above, Veronica Airey-Wilson. It seems that Airey-Wilson is Winch's fifth vote for Arena.
Now here is where the problem arises. According to Hartford's City Charter a vacany can only be filled AFTER it occurs, and then it must be done within 60 days. Any attempt to fill Ritter's vacancy before he resigns January 3, 2011 would be a violation of Hartford's Charter. The specifics can be found in Hartford's Charter, Chapter 3,section 4, subsection C, subsection 2. It clearly states that a Council vacancy "shall be filled by a majority vote of the Council within sixty (60) days following the vacancy.
Now, Airey-Wilson's resignation takes effect on December 31, 2010, which is 3 days BEFORE Ritter's resignation. Hence, Airey-Wilson can not legally vote for Ritter's replacement and Winch's fifth vote for Arena disappears into thin air, like a check written for countertops. Not that Airey-Wislon or some others on the Council pay much attention to laws if past practice is any indication. This most likely will put into jeopardy the plans to replace Airey-Wilson with her nephew Corey Brinson, but more on that in another posting.
Although the current Council President may consider herself a political power broker after she squashed her competition for the Council President's vote by getting Aponte to flip and support her, she may want to listen to her constituents. Just as a reminder, Winch was the low vote getter last go round for Council elections by almost 1000 votes to the next closest Democrat. She recently lost her bid to unseat the incumbent State Representative Doug McCrory in her home district by close to a 4 to 1 margin.
That might seem to indicate that her support in her own home district is tenuous at best, some might say close to non-existent, and how that lack of support translates to citywide votes would not seem to be strong. People are sick of the back room deals being shoved down our throats. Has anyone heard of Winch calling for any resumes or any consideration of a pool of qualified candidates?
This backroom politics is what has killed our city and it needs to change. If Winch continues down this path though it should prove beneficial next fall when the voters will hold Winch and others accountable for their acts.....hopefully. Anyone who under estimates the voter discontent that just swept this country, is either blind or most definitely doing it at their own peril.
Is another shellacing in the works, Hartford style?
I still receive regular calls asking me how Sarah Barr still has a job at Hartford City Hall. Until today, all I could tell people was that I was as confused as they were. Common sense would say that the spokesperson and the face associated with a corrupt, criminal Perez Administration would have been shown the exit at City Hall quickly if a fresh start was really happening.
After all, Barr was the one who was credited with creating the "Gospel of Perez" that taught Perez's staffers the fine art of spinning and embellishing the truth. The "Gospel" was all about the message, forget about the truth. Barr was also the one standing by Perez manipulating the media as Perez faced the Grand Jury and had his home searched by authorities. She was also there as arrest number one took place and there again during arrest number two. She was there at the prayer vigils and Function Room pep-rallies and she was there putting name tags on all the Council Chamber chairs reserving them for Perez Cheerleaders at the State of the City addresses.
I thought that would be a no-brainer for Mayor Segarra, Barr would be out the door. Especially since Segarra seems to have no problem handling the media on his own, and the speeches seem to come from the heart rather than from a script as was the Perez style. And whether those speeches were written upwards, backwards or right to left to account for the "dyslexia defense", there is no doubt Barr was the Perez mouthpiece. And if budget cuts were really needed , Barr's $80,000 or $90,000 plus salary would be a good start.
All those thoughts went out the window today when I realized Sara Barr's true value to the people of the City of Hartford and restoring our image as a thoughtfully run City. Just when you think Hartford is a laughing stock and can't do anything right, Sara Barr steps forward and earns every penny that the taxpayers of Hartford have paid her since she lost her job at Channel 3.
Anyone who has followed the debacle of this years "Festival of Light" must have seen that Hartford appeared to be a huge disappointment to countless children and adults. Many of them families who ventured into Hartford last Friday for a spectacular holiday event. The only problem was that those who ventured in were left in dismay after the switch was flipped, and what to their wondering eyes did appear,...... but an artificial tree lit in the middle of Bushnell Park.
Luckily for us, all the disappointment has now been forgotten by one little media statement from the Barr spin machine......"WE DID IT FOR THE SQUIRRELS". Yes you read that right, the lack of the 250,000 twinkling lights promised before the event apparently happened out of consideration for Bushnell Parks wildlife. Lights require wires. Wires carry electricity. Squirrels eat wires. Birds land in trees. Trees have lights, the same lights with wires that carry the electricity that the squirrels might eat and, as the Barr theory goes, birds could get electrocuted as they land on those wires that carry the electricity that the squirrels eat.
Brilliant, brilliant...absolutely brilliant. It is so bizarre that people will have to believe that. And tell me what suburbanite wouldn't be willing to overlook the original failure and give Hartford a second (or maybe even third, fourth, fifth or more) chance. Consider the alternative, the poor little squirrel falling from the tree, smoking nuts and all after eating the wrong wire before the bird could land and electrocuting himself. This might be a good time for the "chestnuts roasting" joke, but I will choose not to.
So anyways, back to Barr. For a city that seems to have a severe credibility issue on just about every front, why would we even think of using the truth when the absurd will do just fine. Why would anyone admit "we screwed up, we underestimated what the public expected" when you can tell people "we did it for the squirrels".
From what my City Hall sources tell me , Barr will next take over media efforts for the Hartford Police Department. Tell me I'm crazy but her next effort is also brilliant. Those same visitors to the City who were disappointed by the "Festival of non-Lights" also seem to have serious concerns about Hartford's gun violence. Barr's latest effort will kill two birds with one stone. That might not be the right choice of words if we are concerned about electrocuting birds on the lights, but I'm not as good at the spin as Barr is.
Anyway, the new plan like I said is brilliant. Barr has apparently instructed the Hartford Police Department to immediately cease referring to anyone taking a bullet as a "shooting victim". Instead, according to her directive fresh out of the Mayor's Office, from this point forward any one shot in Hartford is to be referred to as "suffering from a severe case of lead poisoning". Like I said before, absolutely brilliant. Shooting victim scares people, "suffering from a severe case of lead poisoning" should change everything, it worked with the squirrels.
If they fell for it with the "doing it for the squirrels" defense, why wouldn't they buy it with the "lead poisoning" defense, hopefully it will work much better than the "dyslexia" defense, I guess two out of three ain't bad.
Keep it up Sarah, these fools will never see through the smoke and mirrors.
P.S., it also gives me a reason to re-use the lovely pic above. Many people asked me where I got that pic from and in all honesty the photographer who took it recently passed away. I'll never forget how the photographer loved seeing me use the pic and was proud of the naturalness and quality as opposed to the "staged" photos he seemed to dislike. Brian Libert was never seen without his camera and loved clicking away, many pics were flattering and many were not, but they always seemed to capture the true essence of his subjects personality. Don't you agree?
Monday, November 29, 2010
Above: arrest photo of Councilwoman Veronica Airey-Wilson
For the second time in less than a month, embroiled Hartford Councilperson Veronica Airey-Wilson is managing to take the easy way out.
Airey-Wilson, who played a role in the Perez Corruption scandal and was eventually arrested along with Perez ,took Accelerated Rehabilitation to avoid going to trial.
After that decision many were calling for her resignation for her violation of the public trust as an elected official.
Now, it appears as though Airey-Wilson will be able to avoid those calls for her resignation and save face, courtesy of the City of Hartford's pension fund. City Hall sources have advised me that Airey-Wilson submitted her paperwork to accept early retirement shortly before today's 5:00PM deadline. According to those same sources, Airey-Wilson's "package" also includes paid medical insurance at the taxpayers expense for life.
It seems ironic that the State Attorney General is attempting to revoke Perez's pension for his criminal acts while Airey-Wilson is being rewarded and given a graceful exit from City Hall with her pension.