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Friday, June 21, 2013

NO P-CARD PROBLEMS AT HARTFORD PUBLIC LIBRARY

The final audit report was released this morning  by Hartford's Internal Audit Department and it shows no purchasing card problems in the use of City credit cards.

Next up is the Hartford Board of Education.

The library is below.


Wednesday, June 19, 2013

WHAT IS THE COST OF INCOMPETENCE?

As I Keep hearing more and more about Hartford's Budget struggles, I keep thinking what would happen if Hartford was actually run like a business? Accountability for job performance, requiring timely performance, everything that would keep someone employed in the private sector.

This started occurring to me as I sat through the Hartford Internal Audit Commission meeting this afternoon . I listened to Hartford's Acting COO, Saundra Kee-Borges bob and weave as she was asked some tough questions about the recent P-Card report.

She explained that many of the missing receipts  were actually always in the Finance Department in a shoe box on a shelf. They weren't really missing. WHAT? A shoebox on a shelf, yes you read that right. A half a billion dollar a year operation stores their receipts in a shoebox on a shelf.

I then remembered the original report that detailed the Finance Director Julio Molleda essentially being asleep at the switch and allowing these problems to occur under his watch..Yes the travel policy violations, the P-card shoebox on a shelf deal, the MDM Golf letter of Credit, All Molleda as he continues to collect his six figure salary.

You can hear some great things at Audit Commission meetings. That letter of credit thing was discussed a couple months ago.

Apparently Molleda , in conjunction with the Office of the Corporation Counsel (yes, if you are paying attention, that is also a familiar name,( Saundra Kee-Borges) Apparently when MDM Golf was awarded the contract to manage( manage being a legal term, what it may better be called is a criminal act) Anyway, MDM was required to put up a letter of credit for $300,000 to ensure that they performed under their contract.

The six figure salary earners  were again asleep at the switch and allowed the letter of credit to expire and it was never renewed , so now the tax payers are left holding the bag and the council just approved dumping $10 million into the 2 courses since MDM has run them into the ground.

Even worse is the flagrant violations of the City Charter. At today's Audit Commission  meeting Mayor Pedro Segarra identified Juan Figueroa as his Chief of Staff. Wait a second, aren't we already paying one who won't leave? Jared Kupiec still hasn't announced his departure date from City dis-service. So is Figueroa working for free? I doubt it. The Charter allows Segarra one Chief of Staff. No big deal though, we can eliminate another Police position to cover the salaries.


As long as no one is paying attention, Kupiec can extend his departure and roll over his six weeks vacation time he gets July 1st , that should only amount to $10 or $12 thousand based on his current salary. Hang in there Jared, no one is looking, just please make sure to return the I-pads and all the electronics. And feel free to keep the City car as long as you need, It is part of the Administration's Economic Development plan. If you can't get around to Happy Hour, our businesses might suffer.

And as far as the COO position. How long will this farce continue? The Hartford City Council essentially took a vote of no confidence in the Segarra Administration when they refused to approve Kee -Borges as COO. Now what will it take to find her replacement? six months, a year, how long will Segarra be allowed to run his temp employment service out of the Mayor's Office for Al Ilg, I guess it is not that bad though, at $80.00 per hour how much police overtime would that add up to?

Who paid for Segarra to find his first COO? And who paid for his previous Chief of Staff searches? Isn't that the claim that was made when Figueroa was brought on board. "Special Assistant to the Mayor for the Chief of Staff selection process" I think it was called.

Let's call it what it is, "let's keep Juan happy until we can slide him in as Corporation Counsel and no one will notice he didn't get it in the first place".

All of this incompetence adds up , all as we are talking about selling liens on residences and potentially forcing people out of their homes to close a budget gap. Kudos to the Council for putting the brakes on that tonight.

The list of the incompetence costs can go on and on. Don't forget the $60,000 spent on a national search for a police Chief, even though the right pick was right here among us. The dollars spent for outside legal opinions when we have a room full of City lawyers that have to look out the window to see which way the wind is blowing to determine how their opinions will go, these all add up.

I can go on and on, but again we need to start using some solid business principals to manage this City and accountability needs to be at the top of the list. Not everyone is cut out for the jobs they are hired for, proper managers know how to identify that and move on. Apparently not in Hartford.


AUDIT COMMISSION REFERS APONTE TO ETHICS COMMISSION

The Internal Audit Commission today voted unanimously to refer their investigation of Hartford Councilman Alexander Aponte's involvement in the SAMA land deal to the City's Ethics Commission fro review.

Aponte, a member of SAMA, apparently didn't disclose his relationship with SAMA and voted on the deal, creating an apparent conflict of interest.

As I posted yesterday, Aponte is not a newcomer to questionable ethics and deals.

You can read more of Aponte's history here

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

THE SPOKESPERSON WHO DOESN'T SPEAK

Some days I wonder if I have a different view of what a "public servant " os or should be. To me a "spokeperson" is supposed to provide information when it is requested. Especially when they are paid by the taxpayers.

I have given up getting anything out of the spokesperson at the Board of Education, David Medina,.Any breath used to ask him a question is a waste of oxygen. Bur I have a feeling that after tonight's Board meeting, there might be quite a few people rushing to Kinko's to update their resumes. Once they realize the Kishimoto gravy train is jumping the tracks and about to derail.That's a posting for another day though.

It is clear that the Segarra Administration has fully gone into the bunker mentality now. Segarra's spokesperson Maribel LaLuz has shown that she is very good at cutting and pasting the ribbon cutting notices, but when it comes to managing a crisis or providing real information, forget it.

I have made several requests for information from her recently, both by phone and by e-mail, amd no response. Not even a "drop dead" or go to he**". nothing. And we are paying for this?

Unfortunately, as with many spokespeople, they fail to realize what their real purpose is. Srgarra has run his City Hall Office as a full time campaign operation. He learned well from his predecessor, Eddie Perez. Eddie was even able to establish the 311 System as his own personal polling operation .

La Luz needs to realize she must address the good as well as the bad, if not she needs to catch up with the Shakira tour bus and try to get her old job back.

I have been trying to get her to answer a couple questions. If a departure date for the Mayor's disgraced Chief of Staff Jared Kupiec has been set. Nothing, crickets. No response to the voicemail, no response to the e-mails, nothing.

I have been trying to find out what Al Ilg is costing us. Ilg was brought back as a special assistant to Segarra after the Council refused to appoint Saundra Kee-Borges as Chief Operating Officer. The only response I got was that he was "part time". I don't care if he is part time or fulltime, I asked what is he costing us. No response.

It is not just about propping Segarra up and improving his image. it is about providing information to the public about the operation of their government, both good and bad.

It is clear that LaLuz is out if her league when it comes to this position. If things get any worse for Segarra, it will be interesting to see where the breaking point is.

Ir is also another example of the over inflated salaries for public service employees at City Hall. I was speaking to a resident last week and he was amazed to find out that Laluz makes almost double what most television reporters in the market are being paid. And these are reporters that deal with deadlines everyday and some do 2 or 3 stories a day 5 days a week.

 With Laluz, if we see a couple press releases a week out of her, that is a lot. And most of those are feel good ribbon cutting events for Segarra. The Mayor will be cutting the ribbon at an opening Saturday at 11:00am. blah blah, blah.And forget about Medina. most of his releases are "no comment".

I think the only City Agency that has stepped up their game when it comes to providing information is HPD. Under Chief Rovella, they seem to get it. Nothing is off limits, with in the normal boundaries. A spokesperson is available 24/7 and now when you ask for info, you will most likely get more than what you ask for.

HPD seems to have learned a valuable lesson that LaLuz would do well to learn.
The big dog ( the media) is always going to eat, it is your choice whether you decide to feed him or make him go through the garbage to find what he wants, but he is not going away.

Maribel, except for the old caviar, I have no trouble going through your trash, and as you have learned, I will eat.


UPDATE:

Maribel Laluz called me this morning asking why I was lying on my blog. She claims she sent me the information I requested  on June 12th. I would think the voice mails I eft asking for the information as recently as Monday might have been a clue that I never received it. But anyway, here is the e-mail she claimed she sent June 12th. Note that even that one has an apology for the delay. 

Kevin,

Thought I sent this awhile back. My apologies. 

 

Al Ilg is a part-time temporary employee of the City. He works approximately 20hrs per week and gets an hourly rate of $79/hr. Recruitment is his primary charge.    

 

Jared's last day is still to be determined. You'll know as soon as it's announced.

-Maribel

Maribel La Luz

Director of Communications & New Media

Mayor Pedro E. Segarra

p. 860.757.9731

c. 860.539.5485

t. @maribellita


 



WE DON'T NEED NO STINKING ETHICS

That seems to be the mantra at City hall these days where it appears that anything goes. Whether it is filling up on caviar at the taxpayers expense on New Years eve or extending a resignation date to gain thousands more in vacation benefits, it would appear that the Segarra Administration has no concept of shame.

As posted here yesterday, Segarra's Chief of Staff is trying to stretch his City Hall leeching to at least July 1st, at which time he will be rewarded by the taxpayers of Hartford with another 6 weeks vacation.

Now it seems that Segarra's last supporter left on the City Council may be following the Mayor's lead when it comes to ethics. Councilman Alexander Aponte is the subject of discussion at the Internal Audit Commission meeting, according to the Commissions agenda posted in advance of their Wednesday meeting.

The agenda lists item 5b as:
a.       Vote on how to proceed with the special review relating to Councilman Aponte’s involvement with and voting history on matters regarding the Spanish American Merchant’s Association (SAMA).  This includes the consideration of referring an issue relating to Councilman Aponte’s City Council vote on the sale of a City owned property to SAMA to the Ethics Commission.
 
Apparently Aponte failed to disclose or recuse himself from a vote on the shady land deal when the City of Hartford sold a property to SAMA for $1.00 and then SAMA turned it around and sold it to Hartford Hospital for half a million bucks.
 
Apomte is apparently a dues paying member of SAMA, which in most circles amounts to a conflict of interest that should have been disclosed prior to the vote.
 

Monday, June 17, 2013

THE CHIEF OF STAFF UPDATE

Despite repeated requests to the Office of Mayor Pedro Segarra and his spokesperson Maribel LaLuz, no response has been received to my questions of when Segarra's Chief of Staff Jared Kupiec will be departing from City Hall.

Normally a resignation is accompanied by a departure date, but as we know with this Administration, nothing is normal.

One source familiar with City Hall operations told me today that if Kupiec remains until at least July 1, 2013, he will become eligible for another 6 weeks paid vacation from the City. That pay can buy an awful lot of Caviar.

ENOUGH IS ENOUGH

One of the largest drivers of violent crime and shootings in the Northeast sector of Hartford is and has ben, the West Indian Social Club. Three more shootings took place there this past weekend. This is unacceptable and can't be tolerated by a City that is trying to curb its gun violence.

Another troubling factor is that Police resources are being stripped from other neighborhoods in the City to fill the "North Main Detail" every weekend. These are resources that should remain in the neighborhoods where they are assigned to provide stability and police protection that the Community thinks they are getting.

The West Indian Social Club should not be allowed to continue to operate driving violence as they have been.

It is time for the City and the Police Department to step up and demand that the Club start hiring a police detail every weekend at their expense to start being part of the solution rather than a major contributor to the problem. It is also time that Mayor Segarra and Chief Rovella take a strong stand that the behavior taking place on Upper Main Street is unacceptable.

In addition to hiring Police Officers at their expense rather than the residents of Hartford, The Fire Marshall, The State Liquor Control Inspectors and License and Inspections should all become regular visitors to the Weekend Chaos on North Main.

There is a big difference between being a Community asset and a community nuisance.