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Saturday, April 28, 2012


The statistics for shootings and homicides on the HPD website are a month behind, but we are close to 50 percent less homicides this year than we were last year at this time. Much of that can be attributed to efforts of the Shooting Task Force efforts combined with HPD's overall efforts. Unfortunately another homicide victim was added to this years numbers when a 38 year old man was shot at least 7 times in broad daylight on Brook Street near the intersection with Mather Street. The man was shot by a suspect riding a bicycle who let loose with at least 11 rounds in a very busy neighborhood. The neighborhood has a notorious reputation for its violence, but it is a striking contrast when you actually view the neighborhood in the daylight.

 I visited the scene shortly after the crime scene tape went up and I had to park about a half block away due to streets blocked by police cruisers with their lights flashing. What really struck me though were two things as I walked to the taped off intersection. The first were the voices of probably a couple hundred children celebrating an event on the playground area of the Albany Avenue Branch of the YMCA, complete with music and a DJ. It was a sharp contrast to the crime scene playing out its deadly results a couple hundred feet away. The other were the modest, well kept single family homes on the block of Mather Street where I parked. Several of the homes had mothers on the porches with very young children either on the porches or playing in the front yards.

 Before the crime scene taped area was actually expanded, the pedestrian traffic was heavy with people walking, including women with young children in strollers. I have never really been able to figure out what would be going through someones mind as they commit a homicide. What kind of rage would cause someone on a bicycle to ride up to another human being and unload a 9mm slug into their forehead and continue shooting, hitting them at least another six more times as they drop to the ground. The other four slugs went somewhere, just not into the victim.

 What kind of person could fire deadly rounds without any regard for children on a playground, mothers pushing strollers or even a young child playing innocently in the safety and security of their fenced in yard? The biggest problem though the more I think about it is that there probably isn't any rage that goes into these shootings. It is more about the "business" of the streets and a life is taken over a couple hundred dollars lost in a drug transaction or giving someone the wrong "look". No regard is given to the innocent potential victims or the psychological damage done to the residents, young and old who may be on the streets and see someone shot point blank between the eyes.

 How do we break this cycle where human lives seem to be worthless to these young shooters. They are far from being marksmen and today was by luck that there was only one victim, although I am sure his family feels less than lucky tonight as they plan to bury him. There will also be another "victim" in this shooting most likely as the shooter will most likely be caught and realizes too late that his life and what he could have been will be spent inside a prison. By a great combined effort between the Shooting Task Force and HPD's Major Crimes Unit, 4 of this years 5 previous homicides have already been solved. I am told that #5 is close to being cleared by an arrest and today's most likely will be cleared pretty fast also.

 That average seems to be much more in favor of HPD than the shooters. Do the shooters think they will escape discovery or does that even figure into the decision making? I don't want to seem like I am condoning violence, but what ever happened to fistfights? At least then you had to calculate your odds ahead of time and make a decision who would prevail. It just seems cowardly to me to settle a difference with a handgun, it seems like any coward can do that. And even worse is some coward who thinks nothing of his missed rounds going into a child in a stroller.

Friday, April 27, 2012


Hartford is not business friendly when it comes to taxes for companies already in Hartford or companies considering relocating to Hartford. We also know that we have lost more small businesses and jobs than have been created for years. But what is being done to retain businesses that are already here?

Although no one at City hall seems to be available to comment, at least one case is showing that very little is being done to keep Pitney Bowes Mail Services in Hartford.Pitney Bowes has a rather large facility located at 101 Locust Street in Hartford. They have apparently put the word out to their employees to expect the operation to move to Windsor in the next few months.

One source ,that wished to remain anonymous, claims that in a conversation with Pitney-Bowes management they were told that the decision was being based almost entirely on the property tax savings by a move to Windsor.Windsor's mill rate is almost half of Hartford's.

Nothing may be able to be done at this point to change that decision, but how many companies are we going to let go without a fight? Several unrelated sources have spoke with me expressing their frustration as to how the matter is being handled. Apparently the Mayor's Office is well aware of the move. The frustration level rises with what appears to be little movement to keep the company here.

Mayor Segarra's Chief of Staff Jared Kupiec was made aware of the situation through an e-mail from what I am told. The response from Kupiec was that "I forwarded your e-mail to COO David Panagore". That e-mail was forwarded to me third hand but it appears to be legit.

In a City that was serious about retaining businesses and economic development, I would have moved for a much different response. If I were in that position and knew that 130 jobs, primarily local residents, were on the line I would have been in the Mayors Office in a heartbeat. I would have told him "Come on , we need to go for a ride" and would have headed directly for Pitney-Bowes. They should have immediately met with the management and begin working up the chain of command to find the decision maker that could reconsider the move and do what was needed to try to reverse the move.

But no... in true Hartford style "I forwarded your e-mail to COO David Panagore".

If there was truly a relationship between Mayor Segarra and Governor Malloy, a successful conclusion for Hartford seems like it could be worked out. For anyone who has witnessed the interaction between the two lately, I am not sure where that relationship actually stands. Although on the positive side for Governor Malloy, the company is staying in Connecticut from what sources tell me. But if no one is making the moves to save those Hartford jobs, nothing will change.

One community leader I spoke with explained to me the fight they had to get sidewalks along Airport Road because so many of the jobs in the South Meadows and Locust Street area are held by local residents, many of them who walk to work. Many of those people will not be able to commute to Windsor due to various reasons. Bottom line is that good paying jobs for local residents are being allowed to move, with what appears to be no fight at all.

The list of jobs lost over inattention to what's happening in the business community as well as stubbornness should not be happening. Channel 3, ING, Metlife, Sunshine Laundry, Gordon Bonnetti Florist and the list goes on and on. Let's not add 130 jobs at Pitney-Bowes to the list.

Calls to Pitney Bowes and the City for comment have not been returned.

Thursday, April 26, 2012


Relax, you have Mastercard.

That apparently seems to be the mindset around Hartford City Hall as the cash strapped City continues to spend over a million dollars a year on food, beverages and other items purchased on City credit cards and paid for by the taxpayers of Hartford.

Yesterday's posting pointed out a few purchases by one person, the principal at Kinsella Magnet School, but it doesn't appear as though she is the only one.

There is still a lot of digging to do as I go through each cardholders purchases, but if you have the time, take a look and feel free to e-mail any thoughts or questions you may have.

The list may not be entirely complete, for example the Mayor's Chief of Staff Jared Kupiec's card only shows a few weeks of purchases, which is only a partial report for some reason, even though I requested the full report.

It looks like Best Buy as well as a couple of downtown food and liquor establishments are being kept in business by the city credit cards.

FOI Hartford Card Holder Transactions 1 (5)

Wednesday, April 25, 2012


How David Medina, the Director of Misinformation for Hartford Public School's still has a job is beyond me.

Jenna Carlesso at the Hartford Courant did a story today regarding the Principal at the Kinsella Magnet School and questionable charges on her City of Hartford credit card. The principal, Pamela Totten-Alvarado, had her city credit card (also called a p-card, short for purchasing card) suspended when some charges appeared. You can read the story here

When Carlesso asked, according to the story, for the record of charges , Medina responded by e-mail in a written statement that "We cannot respond to your request for a comment because all matters involving individual purchase card use are personnel issues and therefore outside of the public domain."

WRONG...WRONG...WRONG and just to be sure the overpaid mouthpiece understands what I am saying....WRONG! Medina is an embarrassment to anyone claiming to be working for open and transparent government. I am hoping his response is just out of ignorance, but as a former editor for the Hartford Courant I would hope he would be more familiar with Connecticut's FOI laws.

Mr. Medina, even if the records were personnel records as you stated, I am sure you know that personnel records are not exempt from disclosure except for a few specific items such as medical records, social security numbers banking information and the home addresses of police officers and firefighters.

I had already obtained the credit card records over a week ago for something I am working on, but I guess there is no time like the present to prove the mouthpiece wrong. Below are the credit card records for the subject of the Courant's article that Mr. Medina claims are exempt. Eliminating Mr. Medina's position would be a budget cut that makes sense.

Tighter controls over these credit cards would also make sense. Anyone that has ever worked in the "real" world of corporate America realizes that documentation is needed whenever a charge is made. Receipts detailing the reason for a purchase, the restaurant or store receipt and usually a note detailing the person being entertained , etc.

As you can see from the attached report, that doesn't seem to be the case in Fantasyland aka Hartford City Hall

A purchase for $140.21 at the Nightclub Belere in Morocco is approved because "per Mrs. Alvarado this purchase was made during her peace corp teacher exchange conference in Morocco 6/30/11-7/31/11". How do you get one of these jobs? A month in Morocco at the taxpayers expense?

Another purchase at Best Buy for $2059.50 on 11/02/11 was approved as "OK" because Mrs. Alvarado said "this purchase was used to reward the 7th and 8th grade students with a dance and activities for good behavior". When did Best Buy start selling high school dances?

A purchase at the Coach Store on 9/26/2011 for $150.00 was approved because Mrs. Alvarado said "this purchase was for a reward for a student at Kinsella Magnet School". A $150.00 Coach handbag for a student? Call me a skeptic, but might there be something more appropriate? And once again, where is the documentation?

Almost $13,000 dollars in purchases were made at Best Buy over several months, all approved, according to the documents, because "Mrs. Alvarado says....". These purchases could all be legit, but don't count on David Medina to shine any light on the truth.

More on the use of Hartford's city credit cards to come. In the mean time, here are the "personnel records" David Medina refused to release to the Courant.

FOI Totten-Alvarado P-card0001


The official number of Republicans voting in yesterdays GOP primary have been filed.

An impressive 158 Republicans turned out city wide, (yes, I'm being sarcastic). That averages out to 6.58333 persons per polling place. The City of Hartford paid to have 24 polling places open citywide, although I am being told that at least one polling location had no one show up. Most polling places probably had more paid GOP workers than they actually had voters.

The final dollar amount spent hasn't been tallied yet, but it will most likely be at least $400.00 to $500.00 per vote, if not greater. It would have been more cost effective to take every Republican in Hartford out to dinner and get their vote while they were dining.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012


Hartford's political "machine", if there actually is such a thing, suffered another body blow tonight. The Hartford Charter Revision Commission had its second meeting tonight and the major item of business was the election of a permanent chairperson. The appointment and selection of the chair is important as that person, in theory, guides the direction of the Commission for its duration.

The permanent Chair is able to decide what moves forward as far as any changes to Hartford's Charter, what eventually is referred to the Council for change, and potentially to the voters of Hartford.

The choices tonight were political insider John Kennelly and former State Representative Ken Green. Kennelly was fresh from his pleading in Superior Court where he accepted probation and court imposed penalties for his recent drunk driving arrest. Ken Green was recently elected along with a "reform" slate, of which I am also a member, for the 7th Disrict Hartford Democratic Town Committee.

The votes of at least two Commission members appointed by Working Families Party
members put Green over the top in the vote count to become Chairperson as well as former Republican Councilperson Corey Brinson's vote for Green.

It was generally expected that those Commissioner's appointed by Mayor Segarra as well as Democratic Council members would have been enough to carry Kennelly, but that apparently didn't happen.

This should be an interesting 16 months under Ken Green's leadership and may result in substantive change to Hartford's Charter.

Maybe there is hope yet.

Monday, April 23, 2012




In January, I wrote a post that was very difficult to write, not knowing what the future had in store and facing a possible prognosis of losing eyesight. You can read that original post here. Before I go much further, I just want to thank everyone for their support, words of kindness and the prayers that I know were being said, I never knew how many people have "prayer lists" until they began telling me I was added to theirs.

Two people in particular played a key role in helping me maintain my sanity during this difficult time, first is my mother who naturally did what mothers do by supporting me and even insisting on making sure she accompanied me to the office visits with the opthamologist and the laser surgery. She claimed it was because I shouldn't drive after having my eyes dilated or after the laser, but I think it was more to be there if the news got much worse than the first day I was given the diagnosis. I know she had many sleepless nights worrying about what could happen.

The other is my closest friend, who will remain nameless, but anyone close to me knows who he is, and he knows it also. We have known each other for over 25 years and his daily phone calls to make sure everything was OK shows what a friend is all about. The first night I was given the possible prognosis of going blind, he insisted on dragging me out for dinner and get me out of the house and my sulking that night. He is a great husband and father to his family and the best friend someone could ask for.

OK, so enough of the sappy stuff.

For all the original details , read the post above, but today was three months since the laser surgery on my left eye. I was on edge, not knowing what the "verdict" was going to be. The large smile on the opthamologist's face when he came into the exam room, was the first indication I had that it was going to be a good day. My right eye has some issues, but is holding its own compared to what the left looked like

Before he came in, they had tested eye pressures done a few other tests and then took color images of the retina and macula in the back of my eyes. I'm not a doctor so much of it meant nothing, but the images he showed me told me the story. I think the doctor thought he was given the wrong "after" photos, and he said even he couldn't believe the results, using words like "impressive" and "remarkable" to describe the outcome of the laser surgery.

The surgery was done in January, and because of the swelling and condition of the retina I was told at the time it would take three months to determine the results.

Today was the day and you can see from the pictures above the difference. The "before" picture was taken on January 6th, 2012. The yellow and green colors are relatively normal. I guess the green is the preferred shade, but some yellow can be expected for someone with diabetes and my age. The red is not good, white is bad and black is the worst. As you can see from the before pic, the upper half of my left eye was definitely in trouble.

On January 26, 2012 I had laser surgery to try to stop the swelling, or macular edema, in the macula and the retina which had the potential of causing blindness within a year if left untreated and at the time, even the laser wasn't a sure fire fix. My vision had deteriorated so much in less than two months, I was scared of the outcome. I was already being prepped mentally for the next possible step which were steroid injections directly into the eye. I had enough trouble getting used to putting contacts into my eyes, never mind watching a needle coming toward my eye.

The after picture above shows the results after three months. It is not perfect, but the whites and black are gone and just a tinge of red is left. It is still something that needs to be monitored closely for both eyes , but I feel much better than I did on January 6th. And whoever perfected the laser for this surgery is amazing. Prior to the laser this would have been definite blindness.

Thank you again for all of your support.