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Tuesday, February 12, 2013


From today's Hartford Courant, Bob Englehart's cartoon
I get tired of our so called "City leaders" making our City a joke every step they take. Is there anyone in City hall that has the guts to step up and start determining accountability from our six figure sponges leeching off the people of Hartford, with very little in return except providing material for a comedy show?

In 2011 Hartford was a joke with its snow plow operations, now we are repeating the same actions with the same criticisms. Would we be unable to operate as a City if there was preparation and things went smooth, or do we thrive on the incompetence?

Let's start with a few questions. In a conference call last night between the 5th and 7th Districts of the Hartford Democratic Town Committee, many good questions were raised. You might ask why two Districts of the Town Committee are asking questions. The simple answer is because that is what we do. We were elected to represent our neighbors and these are our neighbors that can't get out of their homes. These are our neighbors that can't get ambulances and firetrucks to them.

More importantly, the elected officials that are failing our neighbors now are the same people that we endorsed for their respective offices to serve the people of Hartford. Hopefully we will remember these failures when we are asked for endorsements again and remember the angry phone calls all weekend from our neighbors .

The first question I have, and most of the callers on the conference call wanted to know is who made the decision to pull our plow trucks off the road? Governor Malloy made it quite clear he told his DOT Commissioner to keep state plows on the road for the duration of the storm. I think anyone that knows the Governor would agree that if his DOT Commissioner failed the people of Connecticut like Hartford's leaders failed us, there would be an immediate opening for a DOT Commissioner.

It is called leadership and with leadership comes accountability. A foreign concept to Hartford City Government. Why do we have a DPW Director if the Mayor's Chief of Staff is on the radio from the EOC barking orders directing snow removal operations. He probably has a hard time finding most streets in Hartford without GPS.Maybe they use the campaign donor lists to decide which streets to hit first, that might help explain the strategy. What is his experience with Snow Removal Operations and why weren't they being run by the people that are paid good salaries at DPW?

Another question the Town Committee members on the call had was if they could attend the debriefing held to discuss the storm response. The reply to our e-mail from Mayor Segarra's spokesperson was "We are not planning on having a blizzard debriefing event.How do you not have a debriefing after an event like this to discuss what worked and what didn't and attempt to provide better service in the future? That is basic management, or do they not want to discuss their failures?

And the EOC, another joke and a colossal waste of space in the Public Safety Building. As of Thursday night, less than 12 hours before the Emergency Operations Center was ready to open, none of the brain trust we pay to deal with emergencies, not the Fire Chief who also loves the title of Emergency Operations Director or the Director of Emergency Telecommunications had bothered to do a dry run of the EOC before it was needed. Imagine the embarrassment at about 7:00pm Thursday when they suddenly realized there was no Wi-fi for internet connectivity and cellular coverage was sketchy at best in the room.

Luckily for Larry Bezel, a HPD employee who handles their network and computers was able to scramble into the night to get internet Wi-fi up and running for the opening of the EOC the next morning. Probably no one will be held accountable for this potential colossal failure.

And the technology that was built into the EOC also came in very handy. The front wall of the EOC is comprised of smaller flat screens for projecting television. It can be used to reproduce images on computer screens or any video that needs to be shared. Apparently it came in handy Saturday night for those being paid overtime in the EOC to watch a Hockey game on the wall in perfect living high tech color while the viewers dined on catered food from Salute Restaurant.
The EOC TV, better than any flat screen, great for watching Live with Kelly and Michael

That television wall also came in handy as freezing rain was blanketing the City and I-91 was being shut down due to numerous accidents Monday morning. A source in the room at the time said that those there, after they finished watching the Today Show, switched to LIVE with Kelly and Michael on the lifesize 10 x 12 wall.

Now I know you might think that maybe traffic cameras or maybe even the local radar might make sense for those managing our Emergency Operations to be viewing, but nope, Kelly Ripa and Micahel Strahan lifesize for the brain trust.

Now it gets even better, If you were digging out a City, what would your priorities be? Maybe heavily travelled routes around hospitals? Maybe routes in and out of the city that carry rush hour traffic? Maybe the area around Downtown that will host the sold out Uconn/Syracuse game tomorrow night?

Nope. I was incredulous when I got the phone call this afternoon that the huge "airport"type snowblower we had contracted to clear city streets was actually in the southend blowing snow on South Street. I had to see that for myself so I shot the video above because I didn't think anyone would believe me, a street that is not a major thoroughfare, is not an artery in or out of the City.

I asked how they decided what streets to clear and they told me DPW Director Kevin Burnham told them he wanted South Street cleared for the rush hour.WHAT? Had anyone heard of Farmington Avenue, Asylum Avenue, Capitol Avenue and rush hour? As I write this now, at 7:00PM,I look out my window at Asylum Hill  and Farmington Avenue and Sigourney Street are still total gridlock.

A fire truck or ambulance would never get through even down the center because there is no room for anyone to yield. I do feel comfortable though knowing  that South Street is moving smoothly during rush hour.

In the video above , I also took some shots of a few streets in Windsor Locks this afternoon. Notice the streets plowed curb to curb, the huge mounds at the intersections have been pushed back, and Rt 20 in front of Bradley Airport is pushed right back to the curb.Windsor Locks kept their trucks on the street throughout the storm and it shows.

 Picture above from, clearing snow on Park terrace. It might be easier blowing the snow into the park, but at what we are paying per hour for the rental, does it serve any purpose to ignore the major arteries and have the borders of the park clear?

Windsor Locks kept their trucks on the street throughout the storm and it shows.

Why do we settle for being a joke and when are we going to insist that those we endorse "have a set"  and are willing to step up and hold people accountable when it becomes clear they are incompetent and not serving the people of Hartford? Maybe a debriefing and an honest assessment might begin to chnage hartford's course . Admitting you have a problem is the first step in correcting it.

Again, I know it was a historic storm, but it was just as historic in Windsor Locks, Windsor, Wethersfield and Plainfield as Stan McCauley reports and they all seemed to deal with it. Our failure to meet the challenges we need to plan for are also becoming just as historic, or is it tradition.


550 Main St said...

The mayor's Chief of Staff is not only running snow plow operations, he is running the City, right into the ground. Why does Pedro surround himself with losers who damage his reputaion more and more everyday.The likes of Jaffee, Kupiec,Panagore, DKR, at least he smartened up to two of them. Pedro is a decent guy, but he has surrounded himself with terrible advice

Anonymous said...

So much for "Customer Service" training the City forces employees to sit through. Where were the "Core Values" during the blizzard? What happened to the City's "Mission Statement", does it not apply during emergencies? Disgusting and not fair to anyone in Hartford.
Maybe the next storm the PD, FD, and EMS should deem the weather not safe and just wait the storm out like DPW did, (while enjoying shrimp).

B Squad said...

Cant blame Kupiec for trying to help. Obviously somebody was failing, and he stepped up and took control. That is not a terrible thing. Now they need to follow through and ensure this shitshow doesn't happen again.

Big Dave said...

I saw Pedro on the news with his shovel. He had to have Kupeic there to show him which end was the handle and which end was the shovel.

Anonymous said...

Why do our taxes go up and we get shoddy services ? The snow removal in Hartford was a joke.Then again citizens, it was YOU all that put these losers into office,complain elsewhere.

Anonymous said...

Where was DPW? They were plowing snow in 12 hour shifts and more for the residents of our city. Trying to plow around abandoned cars that should have been off the road and citizens that have to walk in the roads in the height of the storm,and residents screaming obscenities at for doing our jobs. While Teachers,Police,Fire Get the lion's share of the budget, DPW is always cut in man power and funds all the time, but you want the same amount of services. It's nice to sit back and look out the window and complain. Try riding with a plow driver and see what they have to deal with. There are only so many trucks but everyone wants their street to be first. PLOW MY STREET BUT NOT MY DRIVEWAY. Where would you like the snow to go? Residents and contractors were dumping snow right back in the street as soon as it was plowed. Where was HPD support? Or when the Traffic Division calls it a rap for the night DPW is still dealing with parking issues and snow being dumped back in the roads. Where is our support?


Anonymous 2:24PM: with limited resources it is all that much more important to effectively utilize what you have. Can you honestly say that was done during and after this storm? And I think the compliance with the parking ban by residents was the best I have ever seen so far. I can understand the residents upset after they already pay someone to clear their driveways and the plow comes by days later and buries them again. Maybe if the plows stayed on the street and did that on a timely basis there would be a lot less upset people.

Anonymous said...

Mr Brookman I can assure You The limited resources where used effectively. In the storm city plows were getting stuck in the snow. As far as parked cars, I guess from your window you could not see city plow trucks stuck on side streets where cars are parked on both sides and the plow can't get down and has to try to back out of a street with cars behind them or cars abandon in the middle of the road. Driving these trucks in theses blizzard conditions is not easy task. The men and women of DPW work hard for the city. I suggest in the next big blizzard instead of hanging out in the EOC. See what the DPW is going though before you through DPW under the Bus.


the plow trucks were stuck because they let the storm get out of control when they wimped out and went home during the height of the storm. And i was never in the EOC . All of my observations were first hand from going out in our neighborhoods, something the dpw diector and supervisors should have tried. to get a grasp of the situation