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Saturday, April 7, 2012


I constantly wonder why the values and sense of morality are so different from the city where I live and other communities mere miles away from me. I ask this question in all seriousness.

This past week the ink was hardly even dry on the Florida arrest report for a member of the Windsor Board of Education. Almost immediately, actually within hours, the leadership of the Windsor Board of Education were calling a special meeting to discuss his removal. They eventually voted to request his resignation. I'm not sure the message has even been heard by the Board member since he is apparently still behind bars in Florida.

A Deputy Commissioner from the State of Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection made an inappropriate phone call caught on the recipients voice mail and within hours, Governor Malloy was accepting his resignation.

The bottom line though is that there was swift and decisive action against someone who clearly, according to the accusations, has shown poor judgement and has violated the trust placed in him by the people he is supposed to represent. It is not about "innocent until proven guilty", it is about violating the trust and confidence placed in them by their constituents.

West Hartford did the same thing last year when a Councilperson apparently violated the public trust by his actions. In no time public pressure was placed upon him to resign. isn't that the message that should be sent? Public positions have a higher level of responsibility to make the correct decisions when confronted with taking the right path or the wrong path.

Yet Hartford doesn't seem to get that. I had a long discussion with Councilwoman Cynthia Jennings this week about her resolution for "Abe Giles Way". She defended her actions by essentially telling me that the African American community needs their role models and they should be allowed to pick their own "role models". I asked her if Abe Giles was the best she could find? An individual who was convicted in a corruption scandal that cost the City of Hartford hundreds of thousands of dollars, if not millions, when all is said and done.

I threw out a few more names that I thought might be more appropriate. If you are selecting role models,how about Thurman Milner, Frank Borges, Helen Nixon or even Trude Mero. Maybe even Clark King, Hyacinth Yennie, Daryl Roberts, Debbie Barrows, John Stewart, Henry Fuqua, Henry Brown... and I'm only touching the tip of the iceberg. But Abe Giles?

I'm getting a little off track from my original reason for this post, but here goes. Why does Windsor, West Hartford and so many others, including Governor Malloy, have such a different view of right and wrong and accepting responsibility for ones actions?

It became very evident during the Perez corruption investigation and only after his conviction and sentencing did he actually resign. One of his co-conspirators, Veronica Airey-Wilson actually eventually "retired" and collects her pension now from the City of Hartford and one of the other co-conspirators is now headed to having a city intersection named after him, even though he plead guilty. There was no outcry for their resignations, except maybe on this blog, and even when they were surrendering themselves to arrest on criminal charges, not a peep.

A Hartford Police officer, who happens to also be a member of the Connecticut legislature representing Hartford's 6th District, admits to stealing overtime payments from the City of Hartford during an Internal Affairs investigation. Hector Robles was eventually arrested and terminated from his job as a police officer, yet he still serves in the legislature. No demands for his resignation, no pressure placed on him for violating the public trust placed in him, ....nothing.

In fact Robles hasn't announced whether he will seek renomination for his position, but the odds seem pretty good. The convention to re-nominate him may even coincide with his next court date, May 23, 2012, where the felony charges against him are moving forward. This will prove interesting since the 6th District Town Committee which was recently elected proclaiming "change" will be the same group that may be the ones to endorse an alleged criminal.

Then we go to the recently appointed Charter Revision Commission. One individual appointed, and seeking the Chairmanship of the Commission is former Councilman John Kennelly. Kennelly is currently winding his way through Connecticut's court system on his own drunken driving charges. Kennelly was actually appointed to the commission by Councilman Alexander Aponte, someone else who has issues with public trust, as his handpicked choice. Kennelly, by his own admission apparently has alcohol issues he is dealing with. The question needs to be asked as to whether the people of Hartford are properly served while he deals with those issues and his criminal court appearances.

The list goes on and on. Individuals convicted of violations of the public trust and convicted of "selling" community service time and committing fraud through their position in the Hartford Court now serves, and has served for some time, on the Hartford Democratic Town Committee.

One of our local State Representatives was instrumental in filing allegations that a member of an opposing Town Committee slate wasn't a Hartford resident while at the same time it is pretty common knowledge that he hasn't lived in his district in some time.

An individual who has several well documented instances of being an alleged sexual predator until recently served on the Executive Committee of the Hartford Democratic Town Committee, yet it was one of the "dirty little secrets" that everyone talked about, but choose to ignore. The same individual was a paid "political operative", the filings call him a consultant, yet he is also a delegate to just about every upcoming political convention.

The upcoming nominations for Registrar of Voters should also be interesting. At least one name being floated is an individual who has a well documented case of being arrested for soliciting a prostitute, all done while he was also a City employee. The "prostitute" happened to be an undercover Hartford Police Officer and I am told the video of the solicitation used as evidence is still in existence. Another potential candidate has had a checkered past involving drug use and other criminal charges including shoplifting. Apparently these are also well documented.

Now I know anyone can claim they have changed and "turned their lives around", and some do and some don't. But at what point do they become accountable for their actions?

A local Superintendent of Schools was forced to resign a couple years ago after the outcry over his drunken driving arrest. Judge Curtissa Cofield, an extremely popular and compassionate judge at Hartford's Community Court was swiftly removed from that position after her arrest for drunken driving a couple years ago. If we went by the Hartford way of thinking, she would have been promoted to a Justice on the State Supreme Court.

If it is true that you are judged by the company you keep, Hartford's political establishment can't possibly be thought of too highly. Is it any wonder we continue to not be taken seriously when we can't even have the guts to hold ourselves accountable? Seriously, would this be acceptable in West Hartford or Manchester or most other places in our State?

When you make the decision to board a plane to fly to Florida like Mr. Watts with the thought of having sex with a minor or put the key in your ignition and drive drunk at twice the legal limit or participate in corruption pay offs or solicit a prostitute or shoplift or do the line of coke or concoct a scheme to steal thousands from the City of Hartford, don't you somehow forfeit the right to represent the public? At the very least, how do you expect to gain the public's confidence and trust, not to mention their respect?

Maybe we can have a meeting to discuss this on the corner of Abe Giles Way and ask Eddie Perez to chair the meeting.

Friday, April 6, 2012


Pictured above, Hartford Mayor Pedro Segarra campaigning recently in Orlando, Florida for Mayor Buddy Dyer's re-election campaign

Wednesday night I attended the supposedly public forum regarding the selection of Hartford's new Police Chief. I wasn't impressed with Robert Wasserman or his comments he made to me after the forum, but some things aren't worth my time, so I'm not even going to go into that conversation. The conversation that is important to me is one I had with an individual I had before the forum. That person asked not to be named, so I'll agree with that.... for now.

We had a conversation about Hartford's acting Police Chief James Rovella. That person agreed with me that Rovella has made Mayor Segarra look like a hero when it came to reducing violent crime, shootings, shooting victims and most importantly Hartford's homicides. The person I was speaking with, who I'm pretty sure has a good knowledge of HPD, also agreed that strong leadership and a new focus and direction is needed for the department, which Rovella seems to be providing.

We went back and forth on Rovella's leadership , but all of the comments seemed positive and the only negative this person mentioned was the POST certification issue. POST is essentially the Connecticut Police Academy Board,(Police Officer Standards and Training Council) POST controls the training requirements for police officers to be certified. Due to an apparent "glitch" in Connecticut law, even though Rovella is a retired Hartford Police officer and has been the Chief inspector for the Office of the Chief State's Attorney, the legislature never included inspectors in the same legislation required for police officers. The Inspector's are sworn law enforcement officers with full arrest powers and also carry firearms, the same as most police officers.

Ok, not to get sidetracked, but I told the individual that whoever was telling the Mayor that POST was a roadblock to Rovella's appointment was wrong. A perfect example is New Haven's new Chief Dean Esserman, who came back to Connecticut after several years in Providence, Rhode Island. Any certification Esserman may have had from his earlier years in Connecticut would have been long expired, unlike Rovella who has not had any break in his performance as a law enforcement officer in Connecticut.

Hartford has had a long history of non-certified Chiefs. Patrick Harnett was over ten years retired from Police work when he was hired as Chief in Hartford and was not certified in Connecticut and never had been, neither was his sidekick he brought along, Andrew Rosensweig, who was appointed as an Assistant Chief under Harnett.

Well the conversation went back and forth for a couple more minutes and the unnamed person agreed that Rovella would make a good Chief for Hartford and made an interesting suggestion. "Unnamed" suggested that someone start a campaign to "force" Mayor Segarra to choose Rovella as Chief. I replied that no one should have to "force'" Segarra to do anything. Mayor Segarra is the strong Mayor and has every power to make the decision.I said that if I was the Mayor, and someone like Rovella made me look as good as he has made Segarra look since he came back to Hartford eight months ago, it seems like it would be a no-brainer.

More people began filtering in at that point and "unnamed" stated once again "Start a campaign" before he wandered off. I officially announce "campaign season" is underway.

Hartford's homicide rate and gun violence was so severe by last May, that it even attracted the attention of Governor Malloy who was instrumental in bringing Rovella and others to the table to begin a plan to combat the violence.The Hartford Shooting Task Force was born and Rovella was appointed its leader. He hand picked some of the best and brightest people from HPD, state and federal agencies and even the Judicial branch. Immediately the team began to produce results and has attracted attention from far and wide. The City of New Haven recently enacted their own shooting task force modeled after Hartford's, and assisted in it's development by Chief Rovella.

I had never met Chief Rovella, or even heard of him, until the task force was formed and I have to honestly say that I was a little aggravated when the Task force was announced and someone from outside HPD was going to come in and take charge. I have the highest regard for Lieutenant Lance Sigersmith, Commander of the HPD Intelligence Division and I felt the leadership should have gone to him.

It is interesting though to hear Lt. Sigersmith sing the praises of Chief Rovella though and tell how much he has learned from him in such a short time. He tells how Rovella both listens and also definitely makes it known what he expects when it comes to accountability. The shooting task force seems to function like clockwork and in the few weeks that Rovella has been the acting Chief, sources at HPD are telling me those same techniques are being used to bring HPD to a higher level or performance and also accountability.

Word is that one Lieutenant was suprised recently to find Chief Rovella in his office working at 3:00am. When does this guy sleep?

I have to say, I only recently actually met Chief Rovella and had a very interesting conversation with him one night at City Hall. He is an intense individual and you get the feeling you are almost connected to a polygraph as you talk to him. He makes intense eye contact and maintains that as he speaks with you. He is more than willing to talk about his vision for Hartford and his love for the City.

For anyone that knows me, I do not trust people quickly, I am skeptical of many things, especially when someone is making a sales pitch. Rovella actually seemed genuine and I began to get a feeling why the shooting task force was successful. His vison and confidence comes through loud and clear and you just want to say "where do I sign up to help?"

Last night I had a second opportunity to spend some unexpected time with Chief Rovella. I though it would be a few minutes, and even though I didn't actually time it, I think it was close to 2 hours we spoke. I'm not sure if this will make sense, but spending time with Chief Rovella is like being in third gear while at the same time Rovella is constantly in overdrive and speeding ahead.

His vision, and I don't say this lightly,is overwhelming. It's not rocket science or even re-inventing the process. I think it is more about being able to listen, filtering through ideas and practices to see what works and most importantly knowing what it will take to achieve that vision. The thing I think that sets him apart though seems to be an uncanny knack to motivate people and get them to rise to their maximum potential.

I don't know how he has been able to do it in such a short time, but it seems that he has been able to turn around even some of what were the worst attitudes at HPD and make them believers in his plan. I jokingly asked a couple officers singing Rovella's praises where the altar was and where they lit their candles. I don't know if it is a "fatherly " demeanor or just the realization that Rovella isn't out to prove himself or just the fact that he is in this for all the right reasons, but to me, his love for Hartford is amazing.

I observed a traffic stop by members of the shooting task Thursday night and I spoke with one of the supervisors afterward. I asked why it was so low key, and why they were so friendly with the individual they arrested. I was told that was Chief Rovella's way, treat everyone with respect because you never know when you will be dealing with that person again or maybe need their help.

Isn't that the meaning of community-police relations? Treat everyone with respect, right there with that one goal alone, Rovella has my vote for Chief.

At Chief Rovella's request, our two hour conversation was not recorded , shot on video and was off the record. I wish it wasn't because anyone who hears this guys plans for Hartford would ask Mayor Segarra why he hasn't been appointed permanent Chief yet so he can really begin implementing some serious change. Even though Rovella has the title of acting Chief, I think he has been handcuffed by City Hall to implement any extensive change yet. With the summer and the high crime months coming, he should be let loose to begin rebuilding immediately.

Even though Rovella's adult career was in law enforcement, you get the impression immediately that he is a "big picture" guy. He talks about the correlation between HPD and their performance and Hartford's potential for economic growth. He talks about programs for youth and his plans for the PAL program, the Explorer program and how he plans to attain those goals.

He walked me around what had been a mothballed school, now home to the shooting task force and a few other police functions and detailed how he envisions the building being a hub for police/community relations. The pools being used for youth programs. the gym being used for basketball games to build relations between cops and kids, the auditorium as a place for community gatherings, this office here, that division over there and on and on and on.

Like I said before, I readily admit I am a skeptic, I am used to hearing baseless plans from our city officials, but with Rovella you can't help but buy into his vision and I began thinking what the building is going to look like when he is done. Not if it is done, but if he pulls resources together and gets results like he has done with the shooting task force, when it is done. And with that mind of his in overdrive, I am pretty confident it will be sooner than later.

I actually think the "unnamed" person has a lot more influence with the Mayor than I do, but it seems like the time that a decision is made based upon what is best for Hartford. Conducting a national search is good when it comes to providing cover yourself as a politician to say "hey, we crossed our t's and dotted our i's by doing a search" but when the solution is right in your midst, why waste the time. Tell Mr. Wasserman "thanks, here is your payment for your contract, we're all set, we have the perfect fit tight here".

Mr. Mayor, the campaign has begun, but let's do what is right for Hartford. Forget the agendas of others and do what I'm pretty sure you realize is the right thing. Appoint Chief Rovella as permanent Chief and let him make us proud.

You might just have more free time to spend in Orlando as he gets things under control.


Last night the HPD Union and mayor segarra reached a tentative contract agreement, ending an almost two year impasse.Specific details of the agreement aren't available , but one source said it is an agreement they feel comfortable taking back to the membership.

It's interesting the speed with which the final agreement actually came about since most sources familiar with the negotiation's said they broke down last week. I wonder where the pressure actually came from to reach an agreement?

More on this as details become available.


Well, actually the black Ford Explorer. According to City hall sources, Mayor Pedro Segarra has ordered his Chief of Staff to turn in his city issued vehicle. This capped off a rough week for Segarra in dealing with wide spread criticism of his giving a $20,000 raise to his Chief of Staff Jared Kupiec as well as the use of the city vehicle.

We probably haven't heard the end of this yet, but a word of advice... those red and blue lights you see in your rear view mirror now may actually be a police officer and not a member of the Mayor's Cabinet on a "Happy Hour" run, so pull over.

No comment was available on this due to City Hall being closed for the holiday.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012


City Hall sources are telling me that city employee Union's leadership have been summoned to the "Green Room" in Mayor Segarra's office tomorrow afternoon. The purpose of the meeting is apparently to discuss potential "givebacks" and furlough days from the Unions to help close Hartford's budget gap for the next two years.

It should be interesting to see how that goes. The term "good faith" just keeps jumping into my mind as I wonder if the Union's will buy into this, especially after the raises given out in the Mayor's office.

It seems like only a couple of years ago that several of the Unions bought into the "shared sacrifice" plea, only to find out a few weeks later that the Mayor at the time, Eddie Perez,gave his Chief of Staff Matt Hennessey an almost $15,000 bonus for all of his hard work.

I guess as much as some things change they still remain the same.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012


Every weekend a contingent of Hartford Police officers are hired on overtime to maintain order in the streets surrounding the bars near Union Place as the bars are running and for a while after they close to control the crowds. The area has been the source of quite a few shootings and gunfire as well as fights and general drunken behavior. The "Downtown Special" as the assignment of officers is called seems to do a decent job of quelling the potential violence.

Apparently this past weekend after word of raises for the Mayor and his Chief of Staff started making the rounds it didn't sit well with people. As the previous posting detailed, Hartford Police officers have been working without a contract and also without raises for nearly two years. Apparently the Mayor's handling of his raise and the $20,000 raise for his Chief of Staff made some officers sick. The "Downtown Special" assignment seems to have went home sick Saturday night.

That has now created another problem as HPD sources are telling me that the "Downtown Special" has now been cancelled indefinitely.

I have a couple problems with this. First off, it used to be that cruisers were pulled from several neighborhoods to block off streets and control traffic usually from around midnight to after 2:00am when the bars emptied out. I always felt that was done at the expense of the neighborhoods that deserved those cruisers to be patrolling the neighborhoods they were assigned to.

More importantly though is why this is allowed to be such a burden on the HPD budget. Roughly $5,000 is spent every weekend from the Police overtime budget to facilitate the "Downtown Special". That is money that should be spent elsewhere, no other neighborhood, with the exception of the "North Main detail", has the luxury of this type of coverage.

The North Main detail was instituted to patrol the area of North Main Street after many complaints of unruly behavior, traffic problems, public urination and other quality of life issues from the club patrons on North main Street.

If the bars are creating the problem, shouldn't they be paying for the solution? In cities like Springfield, MA, it seems like every club has two officers hired for the doors of the clubs to maintain order. Why aren't we doing that in Hartford? There probably aren't two many clubs in the Union Place area that couldn't be classified as a "nuisance" and be required to hire officers if they want to remain open.

I don't think this was the way to get the Mayor's attention. I would have suggested informational picketing at every stop Mayor Segarra makes until a union contract is signed. The Mayor is very image conscious and anything questioning his leadership would most likely prove embarrassing and result in some serious negotiations.

It also puts the other officers in danger anytime the HPD is short staffed. Without the downtown special, regular patrol units would have to answer any calls for service in the Union Place area and the show of force for an area with thousands of bar patrons, many highly intoxicated at 2:00am, just won't be there and it could result in officers getting injured.

I am quite confident that Mayor Segarra is aware that we routinely lose officers to other agencies, many times based purely on better pay and benefits. That cost the City of Hartford quite a bit when you consider the investment that is made in recruiting, testing , academy training and ongoing training. The raises at a time like this for the Mayor and his Chief of Staff are wrong and so is stalling the HPD Union contract.

Some true leaders need to step up and get this done before it hurts the residents of Hartford more.

A request for comment from HPD has not been received yet, if and when a comment is received, I will post it here. In the meantime, West Hartford Center might be the safer bet for your weekend entertainment

Monday, April 2, 2012


The "Blue Flu" that is.

It doesn't seem to do much for morale at HPD when the Mayor's Chief of Staff gets a $20,000 a year raise and a Ford Explorer SUV City vehicle and the Hartford Police Department has been working without a contract for almost two years now. For more on the "shared sacrifice" and the Chief of Staff's raise, check out the link to Jeff Cohen's blog in the right column

Members of the Hartford Police Union are apparently starting to raise their voices over the fact that they have been without a contract for over 22 months. Several members of the union have called me over the last few days, most talking about the initial planning of "efforts" to get the City administrations attention. According to several sources, a planning meeting is going to be held this week to discuss and "organize" these efforts.

Hartford Police Union President Rich Holton wouldn't discuss specifics of the contract negotiations, but his frustration was clear. Holton did credit acting Police Chief James Rovella with "jumpstarting" negotiations over the last few weeks since his appointment.

Others have told me that there are still major issues to be worked out before a contract agreement can be reached. Among those issues are retiree health care benefits as well as private duty job pay. Currently police officers working private duty jobs are paid straight time for those hours, even though the city recoups and actually profits substantially from the billing for those hours worked.

Another issue being discussed is the privatization of the HPD booking/detention facility. This is apparently being discussed to get more uniformed officers onto the streets, but I'm sure many might question that decision. Booking has been a source of numerous problems, and payouts, for actions of police officers and supervisors working inside that area. I'm not sure that bringing in essentially private security guards is the best choice.

With the current staffing of HPD any slowdown or reduction in the "speed" of services and responses could cripple the already understaffed department.

Others mentioned the possibility of refusing to work "private jobs" which although being costly to the officers, would also cripple construction and road jobs as the warm weather approaches. The MDC project alone may need dozens of officers each day to work on City streets. Under Connceticut State law, Hartford Police officers are required to man those traffic positions as opposed to "flagmen".

A few of the officers I spoke with also expressed their disappointment in what they felt is the lack of a good faith effort by Mayor Pedro Segarra in the negotiations. Unofficially they felt that they stepped up during last years campaign and supported Segarra when mayoral challenger Kelvin Roldan began slinging allegations towards Segarra. The union also endorsed Segarra for Mayor during last November's election. Am potential vote of "no confidence" in Segarra and former Chief Roberts was pretty much squashed when the idea arose last year.

I am not a big union person, but the fact of the matter is that Hartford's police officers probably have some of the toughest working conditions in the state and are well below surrounding towns when it comes to their pay rates. The administration is also well aware that it is costing the City money through attrition when trained HPD officers leave for better pay and benefits in other agencies.

What's fair is fair and the games need to end, Mr. Mayor. For our benefit this contract needs to be settled now.