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Monday, January 16, 2012


The first regular meeting of the "new" Hartford City Council was held last Monday and the public comment session was interesting. I wasn't able to attend in person and I just watched the recording of the beginning of the meeting, the public comment session.

I hope that Council President Shawn Wooden doesn't fall into the "Cal Torres Syndrome" as he gets comfortable in his new role. Torres had a way of treating the public with disrespect when it came to shutting them down if they were delivering a message he didn't like. Wooden seemed to fall prey to that as the session dragged on and he made numerous attempts to cut off one person who is a regular at meetings.

The real fireworks began though when one resident who is also a regular at meetings, Alyssa Peterson, raised legitimate and well documented credibility issues regarding Councilman Alexander Aponte. Aponte has had complaints filed and sustained against him for his practice as an attorney.A panel of his peers concluded that Aponte had engaged in behavior that they called "dishonesty, fraud and deceit". Aponte shot up in his chair and urged Wooden to shut down Peterson's comments when she questioned Aponte's integrity.

Read the original Aponte vs. Statewide Grievance Committee posting by clicking here

Aponte claimed that Peterson's comments were a "personal attack" and forbidden by Council rules. The charges and resulting decisions by the Statewide Grievance Committee are well documented and a matter of public record. As an attorney, Aponte should be well aware of the difference between "personal attacks" and legitimate documented actions. I think we call that "history" and if Mr. Aponte does not want his history quoted, he may not want to create it in the first place.

I realize that this was Mr. Wooden's first time in the President's seat, but he needs to be reminded that those members of the public who take the time to go to Council meetings to speak are his constituents and it is important that the Council listen to what they have to say and that they are treated with respect.

And since Ms. Peterson was shouted down by a belligerent Aponte, below are the documents she was referring to. You can read them and make your own decisions about Aponte's character and integrity.

Aponte Grievance Panel Finding of Probable Cause


If every time you were caught speeding you knew that you would never get fined, would you change your behavior and slow down? Most likely not since you know there would be no repercussions to your actions.

That is pretty much the reason many municipalities, Hartford included, seem to not take the Freedom of Information Commission seriously.

Let me just state this up front to make this clear, the staff members at the FOI Commission Office are some of the most helpful people that I have ever dealt with on the State level. They are always responsive when I call to ask a question and they go out of their way to provide decisions to support one side or the other.

The actual members of the Commission are a totally different case. Their decisions many times seem to defy common sense and they seem terrified to actually impose fines even when the FOI decisions are clearly a violation of the FOI law. The first time a violation occurs by a City or town I can understand their intent to educate, but aren't they tired of seeing the City of Hartford at the table in front of them defending their defiance of the FOI laws?

The sad part is that the FOI laws are not difficult to interpret, a quick search of the FOI website will usually provide a similar case that should answer any questions as to whether documents can be denied to the public or not.

A recent case is attached below where I requested documents from the Hartford Police Department and was denied the documents. The Corporation Counsel's Office claimed that the documents were exempt under the law because they were "part of an ongoing investigation". Apparently they forgot to read the rest of the statute where it states when those documents can result in criminal charges. In the documents I had requested it was clear that they were purely an administrative matter and there was no criminal matters involved. HPD Internal Affairs Commander Lt. Rob Davis even testified to that at the FOI hearing.

In another matter when I had requested documents under an FOI request, it was stated by a City Official "make him go through FOI to get it. It will be at least a year before he gets it and then it won't be worth anything". Maybe some fines and some backbone on the part of the FOI Commission members might change that type of thinking.

FOI Final Decision Dailey


Apparently the City of Hartford is giving up on its persecution, or should that be prosecution, of the Dan Nolan wrongful termination case. Recently a Superior Court Judge denied the City of Hartford Corporation Counsels request to vacate a mediators decision. You can read that decision by clicking here.

According to Hartford Firefighters Union President Vincent Fusco, in correspondence with Nolan, wrote "I talked to the city and was informed that they are not pursuing any further appeal's regarding your case. Currently they are conducting an audit of your pay and benefits to make you whole."

In earlier conversations with Nolan before his recent deployment to Afghanistan, Dan had told me that his main objective was to clear his name of the allegations as well as clear the Nolan family name who have a long history of service to the people of Hartford through the Hartford Fire Department.

It is also ironic that the Union President who now offers a conciliatory tone to Nolan was also one of the first people to initiate the Nolan investigation through his request to former COO Lee Erdmann. It could also prove interesting how strong Nolan pushes for reinstatement as the opening for Chief of the Department will also be up for grabs soon as Chief Ed Casares will be leaving in March or April. I am sure most would agree that Dan is far more qualified to run the Department than some of the other names I hear being floated about.

It also seems ironic to me that after a long fight Dan has stayed professional and maintained his dignity as he serves our country in Afghanistan while the Mayor who orchestrated his removal is now a convicted felon, most likely headed to prison.

Stay safe Dan, I for one look forward to seeing you leading a Saint Patrick's Day Parade in your HFD uniform, back where you belong.