Respect, it goes a long way, especially when you are looking for $9 million dollars from the State of Connecticut.
Over the last week I have spent some time at the Capitol observing the inner workings while the Legislature is in session and I can't help but thinking Democracy shouldn't be this difficult. Yesterday was a perfect example.
Apparently last Friday an amendment to a bill was moving forward that would essentially giver Hartford $9million dollars from the State to help Mayor Segarra close his budget gap. Maybe not a gap, more like a canyon that will only get wider in the next few years under the reckless budget plan of the City of Hartford.
The deal was set except for one detail. Representative Doug McCrory was apparently trying to get a commitment from Mayor Segarra and his Chief of Staff Jared Kupiec for the use of a city field for the midget football program. You are probably asking what one thing has to do with the other. Spend any time at the Capitol and you will quickly learn that it is not about right and wrong and what benefits a community, it is about old fashioned horse trading. If you need something to benefit your constituents, you have to cut a deal when someone else needs your support.
In the end it wasn't McCrory's request that put the bill in jeopardy, it was one local business leader who put pressure on State Senator John Fonfara and later Saturday evening the bill was "killed" . (it is campaign time and those business contributions weigh more heavily than constituent's needs).
Monday was a new day and the horse trading began once again. Segarra and his Chief of Staff were scampering around the Capitol all day wheeling and dealing, from caucus rooms to the private office of Fonfara and everywhere in between. In order to be "deal makers" though, I think you need to come from a position of respect and be willing to compromise , not just make demands. At this point I think Segarra needs the help of the legislature more than the legislature needs him.
It just boggles my mind that a $9million dollar deal bailout for Hartford came down to arrogance and refusing to work with McCrory for his football field. All he needed was a commitment for a flat space for Hartford's kids to practice. If it was my call, I would have told McCrory the bulldozer was on the way to level a field and I was headed to Home Depot to buy the grass seed, and when could I pick up the check for the $9million.
It seems like a no brainer, but there is a flip side to the coin also. Hartford doesn't have the best track record when it comes to using the State of Connecticut's funds wisely. You might remember a couple years ago when Hartford was at the Capitol crying poverty and they needed $3million for school tranportation. The legislature found the money for Hartford only to be surprised a few weeks later when the Board of education gave out $2.8million in bonuses.
Hartford can not continue to spend money they don't have and expect the legislature to continue to bail them out. Maybe some cuts in spending and a little belt tightening might go a long way to show that we realize we have a problem and we are working to solve it. To project a $128million dollar budget canyon 5 years from now, as Segarra has done, and do nothing to begin to address it, is nothing short of reckless and incompetence.
The Mayor also needs to begin asking who is behind these failures and constant embarrassment for him. Two names seem to be the ringleaders of almost all of the failures and missteps...Panagore and Kupiec. As I go around the City I have begun asking people to name one, just one, of their success stories for Hartford. No one has provided me with any , although they can rattle off the failures and times that they have both made Mayor Segarra look like an unprepared amateur.
The WFSB building, the market at Hartford 21, the $45million that the State owes us to close the budget gap that the State claims they don't owe, Occupy Hartford which cost the City tens of thousands of dollars at the same time the CEO was bringing them coffee and donuts, the Chief of Staff's City SUV and his love of the lights and siren, the pay raises , the bonuses, I think you get the point.
Again, it goes back to respect on both sides . The letter below was sent by Mayor Segarra to Hartford's delegation today. I kind of doubt Mayor Segarra wrote the letter, but by the tone I can almost tell you who did. The dynamic duo should have learned a few weeks ago that they aren't going to shame Governor Malloy into forking over $45 million dollars by embarrassing him. Trying to do the same thing to the Legislature probably won't work either.
It might be wise for Mayor Segarra to make the trips to the Capitol by himself and leave his baggage back at the office, unless he needs the lights and siren to get there.