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Saturday, July 13, 2013


As the blog is quickly approaching its 1 millionth hit, and as I said yesterday it is an engine for change in Hartford, it can also serve as a valuable asset to serve as a spot for solutions. With over 5,000 page visits on some days, I know people are reading. Many of those readers are City employees and government professionals. Many are business people and educators. Many are Police Officers and firefighters and many politicians, even a few Judges have confided in me that hey are regular readers.

I know the media follows because many of them grab their stories from here, Some are good and acknowledge where they got it, others don't, but it is still flattering even if they don't.

With all those eyes on the blog, all of those eyes are also attached to functioning brains. Probably different degrees of functionality coming from those brains , but I'll stay away from that for now.

Bottom line is that there is a lot wrong with Hartford right now. But the fact that keeps me here , is that there is far more that is right with Hartford. The solution is here, if Mayor Segarra and others just take the time to listen.

It is easy to point out the wrong. Unfortunately it just seems to get easier and easier everyday with the poor judgment and crazy decision making by the Mayor and his people. At least a few times a day, callers to me start the conversation by saying "you can't make this stuff up". No you can't.

I am going to post a few of my thoughts and I guess pet peeves here, like I usually do. But I am asking my readers to put some thoughts into their comments and post ideas that will make Hartford a better place. Feel free to offer guidance to Mayor Segarra, whether he will admit it or not, him and his staff are faithful readers.

I am asking that you keep the comments civil and actually  provide ways and suggestions that you think might work.

1.) First on my list is to let the Hartford City Council know why they were actually elected. They are the policy body and the budgetary of Hartford City Government. The Mayor is the Chief Executive Officer, he runs the day to day operation. The Council is not supposed to micro manage any City Department. They are not advisers to the White House, they are not meant to try to set or influence immigration Policy in Arizona through their resolutions. Quite frankly they should be focusing on anything that involves the people who put them in Office. Taxes, spending, fiscal matters, that's why they are there.

They are not there to question whether a police car has a corvette engine or does it a PPV or a passenger car. (PPV is a Police Pursuit Vehicle package that police cars come with, usually beefed up suspension, brakes, engine, transmission, everything to make sure the vehicles stay safe as they are used 24/7  usually under harsh conditions).

They shouldn't be questioning compensatory time or overtime The Council approves budgets. how those budgets are used is the reason we hire department heads and hold them responsible for their budgets. Furthermore, it is the Mayor's responsibility through his COO to make sure that works. Now I will give the Council a little bit of a pass here. If the Mayor has abdicated his responsibility and the COO is asleep at the switch, then hearings need to be held and the failings brought out in the open. The Council can not just step in and assume the Mayor's role and take over.

It is called checks and balances not divide and conquer.

2.) An immediate review of all non-union salaries both at the Board of Education and City hall needs to take place. I say non-union because most other salaries are set by collective bargaining agreements and aren't touchable until the next round of contract negotiations. Any regular reader knows my feelings already about the $120,000 plus salary being paid to the spokesperson for the Board of Education. I feel the same way for the Mayor's spokesperson ( although I think right now and for the immediate future she will be earning every penny of it)

 It is just inconceivable to me that the Mayor's spokesperson makes almost double what many media professionals in this market, some with over 25 years experience. These salaries need to be brought in line with something close to those being paid in the private sector. It is called public service for a reason and was never meant as a way to get rich

3.) Analyze and make sure that every revenue stream available to the City is being pursued to the maximum. It boggles my mind that rent payments from the use of the Pond House Building in Elizabeth Park are being paid to the Friends of Elizabeth Park, rather than the City of Hartford. Numerous politicos and nonprofits such as the Spanish American Merchants Association, a condo building on Woodland Street, home to a few politicians and at least the address for one Department head ( notice I didn't say home, because it is just a sham address for him to say he has a Hartford address)

But anyways over 15 of these locations have been getting totally free trash pickup from the City of Hartford for years. While most others have to contract with a private hauler, these addresses have been living on easy street when it comes to trash. Not only do they get the service for free, the City also has paid hundreds of thousands of dollars in tipping fees for the weight of the trash picked up.
Between the Pond House rent and the trash fees, not to mention the $500,000 they gave away on the SAMA land deal, the Police Department would not be worrying about budget cuts, the money would be there to fund them fully.

4.) We have a suite full of lawyers in the Office of the Corporation Counsel yet we still contract out a major portion of the legal work to outside lawyers. Why? Some of the work contracted out is for work that a lawyer fresh out of law school should be able to do blindfolded. Real estate closings and FOI hearings just being a few examples

Reports are that several hundred thousand dollars of hardwood trees, large red oak and others were cut down and sold by the vendor entrusted with managing Hartford's two golf courses, At the same time the vendor, MDM Golf, is in default of their lease agreement, not paying their rent, not carrying the required insurance, but yet being allowed to still collect the green's fees every days as most golfers are telling me the courses are in deplorable condition.

I am unable to find any lawsuits that have been filed against MDM by the City to protect from or collect these losses. Isn't that what lawyers should be doing to protect the City's interests?

5.) City cars. No ,I do not support vehicles for ERT. City cars have been abused for years.  I have seen the trunks of City vehicles used for hauling mulch from Home Depot like a delivery truck and City cars used to haul the family around for dinner out in replacement of the family having a car. It is time to change and revamp the policy.

 One of the most egregious examples was a former Assistant Police Chief who commuted to Stamford everyday in a City car, fueled by the taxpayers gas pumps. And not to mention his occasional romps into Manhattan on weekends  for dinner when he would run the tolls on the way back and the toll booth cameras would click his license plate and send the tickets to City Hall to be paid by the taxpayers of Hartford.

The occasional accidents and towing fees back to Hartford for repairs were just an added benefit of his car use.

The first step will be the creation of an inventory system for the vehicles and accurate tracking, because as we saw with the Kupiec joy ride, no one even knows who has the cars.

6.) The internal Audit department's recent reports regarding the poor cash handling procedures and the use of City credit cards is just clearly mismanagement and screams out for a change in leadership in the Finance Department
Receipts stored in a shoebox on a shelf and almost a half a million dollars in bounced checks sitting around without any collection efforts. Give those checks to HPD and tell them whatever they collect will be put back in their budget. That number will be cleaned up real quick.

7.) And finally for tonight, Councilman Kennedy's Special Events ordinance needs to be rescinded. A few years ago, the Council capped all of the fees for special events at a maximum of $10,000. This means that any group who has a parade or an event will only be billed up to a maximum of $10,000, no matter what the cost to the City/ Some Hartford parades run up a tab of $70,000 to $80,000 per event and they are billed $10.000. The taxpayers, or more specifically the HPD Special Events Budget eats the rest of those costs. And in many cases the initial $10,000 is never paid either.

This was done not out of any fiscal responsibility for the City, but purely to keep groups with political clout happy and not making them raise the funds to conduct their events. It needs to end.

I am sure there are many readers that have their own special insight or ideas to help Pedro and the City Council out and maybe help him see something they aren't t seeing. Only time will tell if they are listening, but then again, that is what elections are for.

Please keep your comments civil, constructive and on point. Thanks


City Hall Worker said...

First please so not believe everything that the adminstration says.. Do you really believe that a finance department really keeps receipts in a box? Or that HPD does know which officer has which car? Yes, there are serious problems, but lets start at the top. Replace all the department heads, yes, but we need to look outside the City. Many departments need professionals who require special training and education that may not be available by limited the search. Give Hartford residents preference and a higher pay becuse they do live in the City. Let the departments do their jobs. The adminstration micromanages to the point of gridlock. If DPW needs a vehicle policy, let them write it and then have it reviewed by the council. The new travel policy has been tied up in the Mayors office since he became Mayor! Trust your employees, for the most part, people want to do a good job, go the extra mile and make changes. However the adminstration hinders the good workers and caters to the "squeaky wheels" so they won't sued. Let the bad apples, it is worth more in morale than you know. Finally create a functionally HR office. If employees are the most expensive budget item, treat them as such. As with any machine you need to keep it maintained or it will continue to breakdown. Thanks for the open forum.


I can only go with the information I have. I have the COO on video at the last IAC meeting saying that the p-card discrepancy was corrected when the receipts were found in a box on a shelf in the finance department.

Anonymous said...

The solution might come if the City of Hartford gets a Federal Audit. Internal auditing could be bias as all those attorneys have united to cover their backs. Seems that there are a few attorneys in the council, so it is the COO and the Mayor. They are the ones creating the mess and violating not only the policies but the trust of all City of Hartford citizens. They need to be fired as any corrupt city employee.

Menotell said...

Kevin you are doing a phenomenon job, bringing us first hand the latest of what's going on in City Hall. You have also given us the opportunity to voice our opinions as well as letting us vent out what we see as wrong, especially, since no one else is listening. Your summary says it all.

But, as you, yourself know that the ones who can make a different will not listen. Finding solutions would be wonderful but I don't for see any changes any time soon. We the people of Hartford want to see these changes, but right now, you seem to be the only one combating this war. It seem that everyone is just waiting til election year to come. That's a very long time to wait, especially at the rate that the City is deteriorating and spending. The City of Hartford is not sitting pretty and soon Hartford is going to be known as the "Corrupted Capitol" of Connecticut. That's so embarrassing, the people that have worked to make changes in the past has given up and have move out of the City of Hartford. The only person that we can thank for all that is going on, is Mayor Segarra, his self center, money hungry staff and the Council, whom I don't see them getting involve and making waves.

If Councilman Wooden wants to run for Mayor in the next elections, he needs to step up to the plate and start acting like he can make a different. So far, he and his crew of Attorneys have only been focusing in all the petty stuff. I have notice that what's important they set it aside. Perhaps the Council needs to be educated on what role they play.

The Mayor needs to stop eating up our Tax dollars and start leading by a example. Or he needs to step down and let someone else take charge. He wasn't elected to sit pretty and gain weight, at our expense. Everyone seems to think that the City doesn't have educated city residents. That being based on flock that the Mayor has appointed, his friends needs to be replaced by people who can really make a different and are interested in making Hartford the Rising Capitol of Connecticut. Downtown Hartford is like a ghost town. You only see movement Mondays threw Fridays or on special events other then that, there's nothing going on. We have to keep Hartford alive.