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Friday, July 15, 2011


I don't know how much clearer it needs to get, but we obviously have a real crime problem in Hartford. I know, that might seem like a news flash to some of our "leaders".

I started off the evening attending Reverend Henry Brown's latest prayer vigil at the corner of Martin and Nelson Streets. Martin Street has been extremely violent this year. Although many people were watching the vigil from behind curtains in their apartment windows, only a handful ventured out to show their solidarity as a neighborhood. The bright spot was when a group of kids on bikes stopped and Henry said a prayer with them.

As we were about to leave the vigil, the police radios squawked with a report of "shots fired" at 32 Vine Street. It was a little after 6:00PM,still daylight, and the streets were still very busy. Henry and I both drove by the location and we stopped to talk to residents that were out on the sidewalk.

The people we talked to were telling us that no one really pays attention to them and the sounds of gunshots and shooting victims on the sidewalks are a regular occurrence. I texted Chief Roberts about the incident because I knew he had the Mayor in tow once again for the latest episode of "Pedro on the Beat". Unfortunately I guess my text interrupted their stop at the Jazzfest in Bushnell Park. The Chief texted me back that they were "on the way".

While waiting for the Chief and the Mayor to show up, the group of people talking to me grew by a few more residents, and it surprised me the information they were providing to me. I asked if they had passed it on to the police and they said no. The wall of mistrust between the community and the police, and I think vice-versa also, amazes me.

Why would they share information with me, the guy standing there in a suit and tie, but not with the Police? Definitely something that needs a lot of work in our "Community Policing" plan. They were also surprised that I was taking the time to talk to them, no "politicians" ever stopped and talked to them. That was obvious later on when the Council President drove by, beeped and yelled hello to the Chief and Mayor as she drove by.

It also surprised me that when the Mayor and Chief showed up I introduced Mayor Segarra to the group that had been speaking with me and they had never met him before and didn't recognize him.

The original call for the shots fired never did strike a victim apparently. They did hit a car that was in the line of fire and the windshield of the vehicle was hit twice and one round exited through the drivers side window. The outcome could have been much different if the vehicle was occupied, especially if the infant had been in the child seat strapped into the back seat

The same residents that were talking to me, invited me back to their community day and cookout that they have scheduled for next Saturday, definitely a positive side to strengthening their neighborhood.

I had just barely arrived home when the word of Hartford's latest homicide reached me, homicide number 19 for 2011. The victim was shot on his front porch at 67 Oakland Terrace. The victim is being kept alive on a respirator until family members make a decision regarding organ donation. The one shot to the victims head was described by Doctors at Saint Francis Medical Center as a "non-survivable temporal head wound".

I guess the main question is now that we have reached homicide 19, what is being done? Has anyone heard of any "summer initiative" being implemented? Has any of that $500,000 that the Council cut from the Police Budget being re-instated for extra coverage in what many residents who are calling me are now referring to as the "triangle of death"? Should the "election year" driven mill rate cuts instead be channeled back into additional funding to address this violence?

What do I know though? I'm only talking to the residents from the affected areas. I guess we should leave the decision making to the "politicians" who drive by and shout their "hello's".

Wednesday, July 13, 2011


The Maple Avenue Revitalization Group (MARG)will hold their monthly meeting Thursday night at 6:00PM in the basement of Saint Augustine's Church, located at 10 Campfield Avenue. The meeting is open to the public.

A Public Safety report will be the first agenda item, followed by a question and answer period for Mayoral candidates.

Light refreshments will be served. Stop by and become involved in your community.


Seriously, President Winch, I have to ask, have you ever read the Charter of the City of Hartford? Do you understand the wide range of power given to the Council under the Charter?

I am somewhat surprised by your constant statements lately that we need to make Department heads live in Hartford.Do you realize you already have the power to make that happen and it is no ones fault but yours when it doesn't? Do you understand that the Mayor can only appoint a Department Head for 90 days as an "acting Department Head". Do you understand that the only way an "acting Department Head" becomes permanent is by your vote, and not by the Mayor.

The comment in the Hartford Courant today about an unnecessary ordinance change "The major change is that it affords the council an opportunity to put in a resolution asking the mayor to terminate some one's employment if they don't comply," Winch said also makes me wonder if you understand the Charter.

You have the power to remove any Department head if you and your colleagues come together and conduct a hearing and put together the 7 votes, whether the Mayor agrees or not. Chapter IV, section 3, subsection "a" will explain this if you need any clarification.

Why don't we just play by the rules we already have rather than deflecting attention or ignoring the obvious?

I have attached the Charter of the City of Hartford for your viewing pleasure.
Hartford City Charter


Once again in true Hartford fashion, politics and egos promise to interfere with what is best for the residents of Hartford.

Sources on both the State and local level are telling me that a case of severe friction and turf wars worthy of Hartford's gangs are brewing in the Law Enforcement community.

It all started with the organization of the coalition formed between the City of Hartford, the Chief State's Attorneys Office, HPD, the Hartford County States Attorneys Office, and several other agencies and Towns.

Sources are telling me that the tension began when Mayor Segarra attempted to take the lead to give the appearance that it was his initiative that brought the group together. Apparently that was not the case.

From what several sources have told me, the initiative resulted from Governor Malloy instructing Chief States Attorney Kevin Kane to get involved and do "something" about Hartford's escalating violence and homicides. This was after Governor Malloy began asking " why isn't Hartford asking us for help?".

It seems that Kane and several others from his office and the Hartford County State's Attorneys Office set up a meeting with Mayor Segarra. Kane outlined the initiative and apparently questioned why Chief Daryl Roberts wasn't in attendance. Eventually, again apparently on Kane's insistence, Roberts was summoned to the Mayor's Office to be part of the meeting.

Although the Connecticut State Police are said to be part of the initiative, they have not been visible and no one from CSP was in attendance at the dog and pony show when it was announced on July 1st at the Mayor's press conference on Martin Street. When I asked Chief Roberts about their absence at the press conference, he replied to me "Oh, you noticed that?".

The Task force has actually been aggressive in locating guns and the shooters and has already made arrests of some very severe and dangerous individuals. The sad part is that one person close to the task force told me yesterday that an arrest is pending in a Homicide, but that they are waiting for the Mayor to schedule a press conference to announce the arrest.

I am not going to give the details or identify the homicide, but there should be no question that the suspects actions show that there is no way this person should be anywhere near Hartford's streets, press conference or not.

This is just crazy that we are letting political agendas and election year politics drive a very important crime initiative. Give credit where credit is due and stop the grandstanding.

It would be a shame for a program that has already shown proven results to be killed because of egos, but then again, that is the Hartford way.

Maybe we need a few more people like Kevin Kane who pretty much stood in the background when the initiative was announced but knows how important the program is to combating violence, whether he gets the credit or not, as well as the members of the task force doing the actual heavy lifting. Instead we have politicians who seem to be driven by their need for acceptance.


It seems like it will never end, but once again, the deck chairs are being re-arranged on the sinking Titanic known as HPD. In a city suffering from extremely violent crimes this year, I'm not sure anyone on the command level at HPD gets it.

When approving this years budget, the Council seemed to send a clear message that they thought the Hartford Police Department was top heavy with "leaders". The Council cut $300,000 from the budget specifically from the Chiefs Office and , again, seemed to make it pretty clear that they wanted two Assistant Chief positions cut. As of tomorrow, one position will be eliminated and resulted in the termination, retirement,resignation or whatever you want to call it, of Assistant Chief Lester McKoy.

Now as a result of that, one other Assistant Chief position that the Council wanted cut remains still filled by Assistant Chief John Horvath, the lowest in seniority of the two remaining Assistant Chiefs.

In reassigning the tasks that Chief McKoy was responsible for prior to his termination, retirement, resignation or whatever you want to call it, it has resulted in a full scale shake up of the Chief's Complex.

Not only was Chief Horvath's position "saved" through the efforts of Chief Roberts, it also resulted in two new police officer positions being cut from the new recruit class to find the money to save Horvath. If that wasn't bad enough, Assistant Chief Horvath has now been assigned a Lieutenant to serve as his "Executive Officer". From what sources are telling me, this is the first time that an Assistant Chief has had an executive officer assigned to them.

If the Council was trying to send a message to the Chief, it seems like the message isn't being heard. The two remaining Deputy Chiefs have also had their assignments redefined. Since the creation of those positions at the start of the "Neighborhood Policing Plan" several years ago, one Deputy Chief was responsible for the North half of the City and the other responsible for the South half of the City. That will no longer be the case.

Also, at least two Lieutenants have had their responsibilities increased in addition to the Lieutenant who has been assigned as Horvath's executive officer. Lt. Mac Hawkins, who was supervising Major Crimes for the last few months, has been assigned as the "XO" to Horvath. Hawkins played a key role with his performance on the Pawtucket Street shooting video.

Lt. Brian Foley has been assigned as the new Commander of the Major Crimes Division and the Evidentiary Services Division. This move seems to make sense as the two divisions typically work hand in hand after almost every major crime incident. Foley is a capable supervisor that will hopefully take full advantage of the opportunity. Foley comes from a family with a long line of law enforcement professionals.

The interesting part is that Foley currently has a lawsuit pending against Chief Roberts. It might be hard to prove any discrimination on the part of Robert's against Foley now that Foley has been given what many would consider the prime assignment for a Lieutenant at HPD. Foley's claim was that Roberts had made homophobic and unprofessional comments publicly directed at Foley.

Lieutenant Lance Sigersmith, who had commanded the Major Crimes division until recently when he was transferred to the Intelligence Division will also apparently take on the responsibility of the Crime Analysis Division. Sigersmith is also a very capable and professional supervisor and probably one of the most well educated members of HPD, having attained his Masters degree.Lt. Sigersmith would be one of those at the top of my list if I had a choice for the next Chief at HPD.

I think the expansion of the areas of responsibility for Foley and Sigersmith make sense in streamlining the Department. The assignment of Hawkins to shadow Horvath does not. Supervision and uniformed bodies on the streets are what we need right now, not another layer of management to prop up an Assistant Chief.

City Hall should really look at the issue of cutting the two new police officers to save Horvath's position. Horvath will most likely retire and be gone in a couple years, the two new recruits who were cut would be serving the City, quite possibly for the next 20 years or more. As the numbers of officers continues to drop, we need every body on the street possible. Although the number of Officers came close to 460 with the addition of a new class last July, the numbers are now back to around 428 officers.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011


Is it possible to stimulate business growth in Hartford? Is there any hope for real "economic development" with a mill rate almost 30 mills higher than the next closest Connecticut city, New Haven at approximately 43 mills?

One of the challenges in running for Hartford City Council is trying to figure out what to do if I am successful in my campaign and actually get there.

One of the things that I think is necessary is a plan that will actually allow us to compete with other towns to attract business back to Hartford. What business owner would locate or start a new business in Hartford with a tax rate of 73 mills when they could travel probably a mile in any direction and see their tax rate almost half of that in our neighboring suburbs.

I know this plan would need a lot of work, but Hartford has had a history of giving tax breaks and incentives, primarily for large corporations, to move into Hartford. But shouldn't that also be done to encourage more small business development. The reality is that small business, typically the businesses with under 50 employees, are the engine that drives any City, not just Hartford.

As an example I use Sunshine Laundry on Maple Avenue. Sunshine Laundry employed probably over 40 Hartford residents, many of whom actually walked to work from the surrounding neighborhoods. After a devastating fire, Sunshine Laundry did not rebuild on their site primarily because the property taxes on a new building would have killed the business's profit. The owner actually looked at properties outside of Hartford and considered moving his operation to a neighboring town where the taxes would be close to half of what they are in Hartford. The fire site is now basically a vacant lot and the business operates out of a few storage sheds on Prospect Avenue, near the West Hartford town line

Now my question. Does it make sense to develop a program that any business willing to move into Hartford, or anyone starting a new business in Hartford, and willing to make the commitment to hire Hartford residents would receive a tax abatement to equal the mill rate of comparable suburban towns? This would hopefully make Hartford able to compete with Windsor, Bloomfield, West Hartford, East Hartford and every other town that is willing to make the effort to lure small business away from our City.

I would probably prefer to see the abatement's issued only on new construction or for abandoned or vacant buildings not currently generating revenue for the City, but that could be open for debate. I guess my thinking is that nothing times nothing is still nothing. If we were able to convince businesses to take a chance on Hartford while only asking them to bear the tax liability they would incur if they started in a suburban town, I think that would at least give them a reason to consider Hartford.

Hopefully at the end of the term of the tax abatement, whether 5, 7 or even 10 years, Hartford will have its act together and the Grand List will be growing, the mill rate will be decreasing to a competitive rate and a lot of our vacant businesses will be occupied by companies that can compete and are committed to Hartford.

I know it is just a thought, but let me know how you would tweak it or if you think it would even work at all.