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Tuesday, September 24, 2013


A cart Path at Keney Park Golf Course, Where is American Golf? It never looked like this when they were the City's Vendor
The full court press was put on the Internal Audit Commission by City Hall  to not release the Keney Park Tree report. Below is the "opinion" written by Hartford's Deputy Corporation Counsel L. John Van Norden in an attempt to keep the Audit report from Public scrutiny. His opinion didn't work.Van Norden seems to take offense with the Auditors using "legal terms" in their Audit report. Apparently that is a bad thing when it comes to laying out the facts. Instead maybe the Auditors should take a lesson from Van Norden in sugarcoating facts and rather than call the illegal removal of trees, call it a "Golf Course Tree Conversion Claim" as he calls it in his memo.

"Golf Course Tree Conversion Claim" does sound a lot better than saying a vendor defrauded the people of Hartford by removing assets, namely 275 Large red Oak trees probably worth hundreds of thousands of dollars . I can see why Van Norden doesn't want the report released since he and his bosses allowed the Letter of Credit that was required from MDM to protect the taxpayers of the City of Hartford in the case they defaulted , to expire. Van Norden and the Finance Director allowed the letter of credit to expire without any efforts to protect us from a lousy vendor. There is no financial recourse against MDM since they apparently have to assets available to attach,

Van Norden goes on to quote the City Code regarding the powers of the Audit Commission in his "opinion". If the fact that no one in City Government was paying enough attention to 275 large tress, one of the most valuable assets we have in our green spaces is not a City Government issue, I am not sure what is. It might also be an issue that apparently no legal action has been started to protect the City's interests from a vendor that has destroyed two valuable City assets. Are there any lawsuits or claims that have been filed by Van Norden, Kee-Borges or anyone else on the City's behalf to protect our interests? I can't find any.

Finally, Van Norden states that apparently the Auditors shouldn't focus on the law in their reports but should instead leave the legal analysis to the jurisdiction of the Corporation Counsel. Since the Corporation Counsel is or may very well be the focus of this audit as well as others, that might constitute a huge conflict of interest for Van Norden, to potentially sit in  judgement  of his own actions or that of his boss.

In the end, it is nothing more than a smokescreen to protect the Administration from another embarrassing misstep. On the positive side though, I think we are coming to just expect them now so it doesn't have the same shock effect

This opinion seems more negligent than any report the auditors could file.

And Mr. Van Norden, I know you are from out of town, but it is Keney, K-E-N-E-Y, not Kenny


RB said...

What A City! Hartford NEVER misses a chance to shoot itself in the foot!

Mayor seems oblivious said...

City Hall (mayor and staff), stop hiding! Stop spinning. PLEASE!!You are failing miserably. Put everything out there. Don’t hide the bad things; it only makes us look worse. People make mistakes, the City has been mismanaged for decades, and now, in this day of mass electronic media and social sharing, it is all coming to light. Social media and FOI make it impossible to hide dark little secrets. YOU ARE LOSING THE SOCIAL MEDIA PR BATTLE. It's so bad, that it has flooded over to regular media. Unfortunately, Mayor Segarra is at the helm when the walls of secrecy are crumbling down. Time to reformulate. Management in this city has sucked for so long, and now it’s all coming out. It's not your fault Pedro (you inherited it) but when your staff tries to hide it, it sure looks like your fault. WAKE UP PLEASE!

Anonymous said...

Actually, American Golf was also regularly in default of their lease and not making the improvements they promised at Keney @ Goody. There were many tools in this contract for the city to hold the firm accountable for improving the courses apparently nobody noticed or cared.

Anonymous said...

Where did they find this city attorney, some mail order law school - and Pedro can't pawn that one off on his predecessor.

Ummm...Mr Van Norden, perhaps you didn't notice, but Keney and Goodwin parks and their golf courses ARE city assets regardless of who is managing them. Are you going to tell the City's Independent Auditors who must review and opine on the golf course assets and financial statements in the City's CAFR that they have to exercise caution and not to express critical findings?


anonymous 2:19pm,

I don't ever remember Keney being in such deplorable condition when American Golf was operating the courses.

Anonymous said...

I can only view and read the first page and part of the second page of this memo. Can you show a pdf copy instead of scrib?


anonymous 7:17PM

no I have to use scibd to embed PDF documents, blogger doesn't have it built in. Try double clicking on the document title above the report and that should allow you the option to download or print the document

Mike Lupo said...

Kevin, you are correct. American Golf took these two golf courses and dramatically improved them in a way the city could never do.

Now that MDM Golf Enterprises lease is up, let's see how the city can screw up another bidding process. Hopefully, American Golf will bid, win and put Keney and Goodwin back together again.

Sadly though, Hartford has a terrible record of running things, overseeing people that run things and never seeing that things don't run well at all.

Hartford will never change, City Hall will never change. The Mayor should have demanded all department heads to resign a long time ago and start all over. Corp Counsel's office (among others)should be disbanded and legal services contracted out.

But who is to blame for all this mess? Mayor, Council, department heads? No, the voters continue to elect the same crew of do nothings.

Time for change all around. But let's start with golf course management. Maybe, just maybe that could be successful. Then we move on to the bigger issues.

Mike Lupo said...

Since when does South Hartford have a mountain range going through it behind Goodwin Golf Course? Check out MDM's website for Goodwin:

Not too deceiving, huh?

Anonymous said...

OMG! Kevin I am so glad someone else has noticed the deplorable conditions of our parks.

I left Hartford in 2001 and moved out of state. Upon my return in 2008, I was mortified at the conditions here. Not only the parks, but the streets as well (i.e. Wethersfield Ave., especially!) And it was a mess long before the MDC started its little project.

I used to love this City and even worked for the city and bought a home here back in 1997 (when all the parks/streets were kept up).

On a positive note, I do live closer to the Front St. area, and I have to admit it's a pleasure for me and my neighbors to stroll around that area.

Now that I have returned, I cannot wait to finalize some personal matters and get the hell out!!!

Anonymous said...

You would never see West Hartfords Rockledge in that kind of Condition !!! Because West Hartford hires the right people for the Job !!
Hartford always broke(recieves more $$ than most towns) and Incompetent.