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Friday, April 12, 2013


Earlier this week, I posted an e-mail from Hartford's acting COO written to Deputy Corporation Counsel L. John VanNorden questioning the mental stability of Councilman Raul deJesus.You can read that e-mail here

Now pursuant to an FOI request, I have obtained another of Mr. Van Norden's e-mails that apparently forced City Hall and Mayor Segarra into damage control mode.. Internal Audit Commission member Bruce Rubenstein sent van Norden an e-mail requesting information regarding issues that were raised in an audit report into the operations of Keney and Goodwin Park Golf Courses.

I am a friend of Rubenstein's and I try to look at these things with an open mind. Rubenstein's request , to me, seemed proper as a Commissioner of a Board he appeared to be doing his due diligence and following up on a Commission recommendation to ensure that the City's interests were being properly protected.

There are still numerous issues with the vendor managing both courses. One of the most troubling was Van Norden's report to the Commission that the vendor apparently did not seem to have the required insurance to run the courses or provide verification to the City that coverage is in place. That means without the proper liability insurance, if someone is injured on the course or if a golfer rolls a cart over and is hurt, the taxpayers of the City are on the hook for the claims.

Now there probably hasn't been anyone on the audit Commission in years that has stepped up and done what they are there to do and I know Rubenstein is touching nerves that haven't been touched in years.It is exactly what the City of Hartford needs right now as we spiral out of Control.

As an example, an employee pointed out cash thefts from the Tax Collector's Office a couple years ago. The Auditor's, as well as the Audit Commission were aware of the thefts. Former COO Lee Erdmann even testified at a Labor Board hearing, under oath, that over $10,000 had been stolen in a 2 week period from the Tax Collector's Cashier's Office.

The Audit Commission did nothing, the Hartford Police were never brought in to investigate and a City employee was a few thousand dollars happier. With a couple other Commissioners like Rubenstein, I am pretty confident the outcome would have been much different..

Apparently Mr. Van Norden can't stand the heat rising at City Hall, it is clear from his e-mail his disdain for Mr. Rubenstein and his level of expected accountability.

In doing more research though and obtaining information from my "alternative means" a pattern seems to be established that makes me wonder if anyone did a background investigation into Mr. van Norden's past. Where was our COO doing her  hiring process investigation.As taxpayers in this City we deserve a Corporation Counsel who is capable of interviewing and vetting candidates and finding the most capable person. That doesn't seem to be the case here.

Is anyone running this City?

It seems , according to media reports that van Norden abruptly departed his previous position as City Attorney for Schenectady , New York. The departure seemed somewhat suspicious. In December 2010, Schenectady media began to raise questions regarding van Norden. van Norden the city's top legal official at the time had been receiving his $96,373-a-year salary for the past six months even though he had been absent from work, and a replacement had been hired to do his job

Read more:

van Norden's legal credibility had also been questioned when he was sanctioned  by the Supreme Court of New York when he was sued for paternity and the Court ruled his actions to avoid a blood test were frivolous and sanctioned him in the amount of $5000.00. You can view that ruling here

In the ruling from the Supreme Court of New York. it is stated that "L. John Van Norden testified that he prepared the papers in support of this application while emotionally upset and angry and did not realize that he was using an outdated section of the Family Court Act". In looking at the e-mail to Rubenstein and the comments he made about the mental stability of Councilman DeJesus, is it possible that those anger issues and the emotional upset are regular behavior?

Here is another media report on van Norden's disappearance from Schenectady City Hall

A request for comment from Mayor Segarra's office regarding van Norden's email  to Rubenstein was not returned.see update below

Here is Van Norden's e-mail provided to me through FOI.

From: Van Norden, John L.
Sent: Tuesday, April 09, 2013 4:34 PM
To: ''; Campbell, H P.
Cc: Segarra, Pedro E.; Kee Borges, Saundra; Kupiec, Jared W.;; City Council;;; Cloud, Adam
Subject: RE: City of Hartford Keney and Goodwin Golf Course Management and Operations ...

The Office of the Corporation Counsel is not accustomed to receiving direction or inquiries from individual commission members, a commission being a body that acts as such and derives its authority as a body. We are accustomed to Pat Campbell serving as the spokesperson for IA. Has there been a change in organization? Does Mr. Rubenstein now serve as the IA spokesperson or director? Does he speak for the Commission? Perhaps I missed that appointment.

I am also constrained to officially raise an issue with Internal Audit that I had hoped might be resolved with less formality. Mr. Rubenstein continues to represent litigants in suits against the City. I had my staff run a review of our records and we count ten(10) active and pending lawsuits of claims filed by Mr. Rubenstein or his office. We have raised this issue in the past with Mr. Rubenstein who indicated he intended to reconcile the ethical dilemma by abstaining from any investigation of the Corporation Counsel Staff. In the course of researching an opinion request to the City Ethic’s Commission, we became aware of a specific statutory restriction, applicable to IA Commissioners, which is implicated by Mr. Rubenstein’s representation of parties with adverse litigation interests to the City.

Chapter 2, Article II, Section 2-41(c)(3)(f) of the City Code provides that “No member [of the Internal Audit Commission] shall: * * * (f)

Hold any financial interest in any work or business of the city or official action of the city”. Mr. Rubenstein’s financial interests as an attorney for parties adverse to the city appears to represent a violation of this restriction. The Office of the Corporation Counsel, mindful of its ethical obligation to maintain the appearance of propriety and to protect the public interest in the perceived integrity of government processes, requests that the Internal Audit Commission initiate an investigation into the eligibility of Mr. Rubenstein to serve as a member of the commission and determine the scope and applicability of Section 2-41(c)(3)(f). As we have previously indicated to Mr. Rubenstein, we will also be asking the Ethics Commission to evaluate the ethical duties of a City Commissioner in this context so that the Corporation Counsel is guided in its handling of matters in which Mr. Rubenstein represents adverse interests..





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Mayor Segarra's Office responded with the following comment at 6;15PM

Van Norden takes full responsibility for his email, he stands by the issue he raised regarding the statutory restriction and doesn't agree that his tone was offensive. The tone was direct and professional and discretely addressed significant legal and administrative concerns to a specific and limited audience with jurisdiction over the issue presented. But you should also know that Jared responded to his email and had an amicable exchange with Rubenstein. That email is below…

----- Bruce:

I cannot speak for DPW, Finance or Corporation Counsel, but this is an issue that Van Norden and I have tracked very closely, especially over the last year. In fact, it was at our request that this audit was pursued. You may or may not be aware that an RFP for a new management company was recently released and responses are due back April 18 ( The deadline, based on number of responses, may be extended. Traditionally appropriate Department Heads work with Internal Audit staff to verify follow-up on recommendations and same is tracked through the City's HartStat process. Pat has been very helpful in this regard and is quite vigilant to ensure that proper protections and protocols are instituted to address areas of concern. I suspect (and expect) the same will occur with respect to this audit. -J -- Jared W. Kupiec Chief of Staff Mayor Pedro E. Segarra City of Hartford


Anonymous said...

Are you kidding me? This is disgusting on several levels, not the least of which is we are about to turn the keys of the kingdom over to a COO that can't even use Google and check on this guy before she hired him. I don't mean tis as a reference to mental illness , but this is insanity. A clean sweep at city hall is in order, starting with Mayor Segarra. his incompotence as a leader is coming through more and more everyday due to the people he has around him. This is all preventable if he were to get rid of his punk Chief of Staff and the deer in the headlights acting COO who is so far out of her league and doesn't know which way to turn.

Anonymous said...

Yo Negro,

set up a PayPal acct. so we can contribute for your services. Your updates and info are better that a subscription to the Hartford Courant or local TV.

otherwise these Cinderella Political Thieves will WIN.

Makin law and babies said...

Attorney van Noreen has been intemperate with 5 city hall figures this past month....shall we say anger management? Is he being sued again for increased child support for his out of wedlock baby again?