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Thursday, May 10, 2012


There was a lot of finger pointing going on at the Capitol the last few days, much of it coming from Mayor Segarra and his dynamic duo.

In a statement released this morning, Segarra , who happens to be in San Francisco , said “The result tonight is a reckless disregard for the residents and business owners of the City of Hartford. After months of meetings, proposals and conversations – and six days of continuous discussions with all stakeholders – the entire legislative delegation finally came together to support House Bill 5156 (LCO Amendment 5565). It was not a perfect bill, but it would have made essential technical corrections to Public Act 11-212 and allowed the City the ability to generate the additional revenue that was assured 3 weeks ago when a previous compromise was struck and my recommended budget was due. The continual back-and-forth, the brinksmanship, the willingness by some to kill a bill or concept simply because it wasn’t 100% of what they desired will only end up hurting residents and business owners."

I guess I have to ask who was actually responsible for "the reckless disregard" as Segarra states? It seems that much of the proposed Segarra budget is based on phony revenue projections and non-existent dollars he used to balance the budget. In the private sector I think it would be called fraud, and I think more than a few corporate people have gone to prison for similar actions.

The real facts are that Segarra and his budget team used  projected revenue that  the failed legislation would have raised to balance his budget. There was no firm commitment that the legislation was going to pass and it seems both reckless and irresponsible, and possibly fraudulent, to count on those numbers. It feels the same that if I purchase a lotto ticket, I may actually win so I am going to go spend that money before I even have it. In this case, Segarra's bid for the lotto win failed and we are left with a $9 million budget hole that now needs to be filled.

It may actually be worse than the $9 million hole though. Segarra's budget also seems to be counting on more "funny money" , including $1 million dollars in Union concessions. As of today I don't believe that there is a single penny being given back yet by any of Hartford's unions. It may actually be a tough sell to union leadership to get any voluntary givebacks considering that Segarra handed out large raises to his inner circle while many lower paid employees haven't received raises since 2007.

Then there was the $45 million Segarra and Chief Operating Officer David Panagore claim the State of Connecticut owes Hartford for school building projects dating back over 8 years. As you might expect, Governor Malloy and the State of Connecticut have a different take on that. Even though both Segarra and Panagore claim they are using that money to close budget gaps over the next five years, there is no commitment that the money even exists or is owed to Hartford.

The failure of the bills to pass may just be a blessing in disguise though. First of it is going to make the Council take a long hard look at the budget and actually force them to cut City spending. The Charter requires a balanced budget and the Council needs to make that happen. Council President Shawn Wooden told me last night that the Council was well underway in making substantial cuts to the Mayor's proposed budget to reduce spending.

The loss of Segarra's version of "Monopoly" money now makes the council's job even more difficult. This action is long overdue though as Hartford has relied on the annual "band-aid" fixes from the Legislature to address budget and revenue issues rather than take the hard look at it's spending. Hartford's annual budget spending has increased over $130 million a year since 2001. Most people would also say that the budgetary increases have not corresponded to an increased delivery of city services.

In Segarra's press release today he stated that the bills failed "because of disingenuous motives and an inexplicable unwillingness to compromise". Hopefully he wrote that comment while looking in a mirror with his Chief of Staff Jared Kupiec and COO David Panagore behind him. If nothing else, Segarra may be forced to realize now that his tactics aren't working. How much more can his crew embarrass him before he realizes that he is being made a fool of and it is time for change?

For anyone that reads this blog regularly, you already know I am not a fan of Senator John Fonfara. But I can give credit when it is due. Fonfara stood his ground on these bills right up until the final minutes. Much of that was due to pressure from Metro Hartford Alliance President Oz Griebel, but he still held his ground. I think in this case his constituents are actually going to benefit from his actions.

I had a long conversation with Griebel at the Capitol Wednesday night, and he clearly understands what it is going to take to start turning Hartford around. It is not going to be a higher mill rate or higher taxes on a City that is already the highest taxed in the state. It is going to take a common sense  business approach, not poorly conceived political solutions.

Although Segarra claimed that the bill would have been the right thing to do, nothing could have been further from the truth. What it would have done was bail him out from his fraud budget, but at what cost?

The proposed legislation would have directly put a $ 9 million burden on the backs of Hartford residents who are renters. The proposal would have upped the assessment percentage on rental properties and most property owners and investors would not absorb the additional tax costs, they would pass it on to their tenants. How does that benefit Hartford's residents who are renters, many of them already living on the financial edge?

These failures by the Segarra administration need to lead to a few very important conversations. First off needs to be with the Council, and they should be very upset with the precarious position Segarra has placed them in with the phony money budget. The second conversation needs to lead to some deep soul searching by Segarra. How much more can he allow Panagore and Kupiec to conduct business in this manner.

It seems like this "Cabinet" and Segarra's management team should be compared to the gang who couldn't shoot straight. They have alienated just about everyone who is in a position to help Hartford, but if you read the press releases and letters, it is everyone elses fault except theirs. When is Pedro going to realize this isn't working.

And finally the real discussion needs to be how are we going to reduce spending and start living within our means as a City. All the band aids don't matter one bit if we can't realize we have a real problem with revenue vs. spending

In the meantime we need a Mayor who can put the social worker mentality aside and start making the tough decisions he was elected to make and stop listening to those who have no clue what Hartford needs or even how to get there.

Hopefully Mayor Segarra is enjoying his trip to San Francisco, some real work needs to be done when he returns


peter brush said...

In stead of asking the State for permission to raise the assessment rate on apartment buildings how about asking the State to relieve municipalities of obligation to deal with public sector unions? How about cutting the muni budget by 5%, or $27million. I think we taxpayers could deal with the cuts in "services."



considering that the Mayor is projecting a $128million gap in 2017, your figures are a good start but that needs to be the minimum cuts, we need to look at more. the $128 million deficit divided by 5 equals $25.6 million. that is what we need to be cutting each year to avoid the gap in 2017, unless the grand list suddenly increases , which isn't likely

James Brown (good god) said...

Two words describe this: phantom money.

Peter stop beating a dead horse it's not the unions that are screwing up the city it's the Mayor and his no so dynamic duo who are screwing up this city, and this latest dybical is a perfect example.

I think your opinion would differ if you had to slash and cut services, trash pick would be delayed(and the rat problem would come back, besides being at city hall)if your house or apt. were to catch fire it surely would burn to the ground, it would take even longer to get police to respond to an active crime, never mind being told that for minor crimes you can file a report over the phone, snow removal would be non existent, it's bad enough now. The parks would all look like the picture Kevin posted last year, I could go on but I stop for now.

Maybe just maybe they can stop taking trips, going out to dinner on your dime, stop paying people at city hall over priced salaries for jobs that are compensated apporx. 40-50% less in other towns and cities, stop giving these dept. heads paid insurance and fat pensions, which create the highest unfounded liability to the pension. Again I'll stop for now.

This matter is going to get worse when the City Treasurer sues the city for not fully funding their pension liability, add that 16 million to the phantom 9 million that equals a 25 million shortfall that's a huge hole to dig out of.

There is a huge problem when the budget when spending line goes up year after year and the revenue side stays flatlined year after year. You need leardship that has vision and the courage to lead something the city does not have now.

The tax payers should revolt and as for a recall vote.

James Brown (Good god) said...

The closer you look at the Mayors budget the more you see phantom money. Since the tax bill won't be brought back unless it's in an implementer by the Gov. It will be intresting to see how the City makes up the loss. The other phantom money is the so called 9 million the state owes the city for the past school projects. So that's approx 18 million plus the 16 million they are shorting the pension fund that's 34 million short. Good God.

Anonymous said...

James, the implementer will not be used as Roldan and Fonfara will put a "hold" on anything,as they did the other day.

peter brush said...

it's not the unions
I had the SEIU guys banging drums, blowing whistles, and demanding their pensions starting at 6:00 a.m. yesterday. Perhaps that caused my hostile tone towards public sector unions to be exaggerated.
Perhaps it wouldn't take a State law to deal with them. Can the City simply require greater pension contributions, limit COLAs, adjust overtime policy?
The bulk of the budget is in the school district. What, if anything, can the municipal government do about it? I suspect the answer is nothing.
There are clearly areas that could be cut that don't involve public saftety (i.e., fire and police). It's my understanding, for example, that we are presently providing services at clinics for sexually transmitted diseases and infectious diseases. The City is hoping to get Medicaid reimbursement for them. How about just cutting?

Anonymous said...

I bet since the Mayor is in San Francisco, Assistant Mayor Boetie Batman is siting in his office pretending to be commander of the world.....

Anonymous said...

My biggest complaint is why not use the 500 million for that stupid bus way to build a new civic center downtown? that would prove to be more intelligent, and also pull in a failing pro franchise like Phoenix Coyotes or Minnisota Vikings..any franchise would demand a new stadium, then UCONN and all the other vendors jump on board..Jobs , money, etc.. Logical.. but wait a bus line from dumpy New Britain to Hartford is better for all the scared aetna employees ...

The Rock said...

The odd thing is that both Pedro and Oz testified in favor of HB 399 when it was drafted. You can bring up their testimony on the legislative web site. I guess their was only one guy who stood by his testimony and that was Oz Pedro was the one who changed his position. Pedro and the not so dynamic duo were playing both sides of the fence, not go mojo for the city.
What are they going to do when they really realize that they are not getting that 9 million they allege the state owes them for the school projects. Monday's council meeting should be a good one, let's see if the not so caped crusaiders, and Mr. San Fansicso, aka Pedro, shows up.