According to several sources, the demise of Casares as Chief occurred the day he was called in to the office of acting COO Saundra Kee- Borges as Casares was getting ready to make Fire Department promotions. Saundra Kee-Borges was trying to secure a promotion for her boyfriend Terry Waller. Apparently the puppetmaster Kee-Borges asked Casares directly "you are going to make Terry a Deputy Chief, right?" Casares apparently gave her a blunt answer, "NO." That did not go over well and Casares announced his retirement shortly there after.
Luckily for Kee-Borges there was someone waiting in the wings willing to sell his soul to the devil to get those all important Chief's bugles for his collar. That person was Carlos Huertas, a veteran of the Hartford Fire Department. Huertas has not been shy about telling people about the deal he had to cut to get the Chief's job. It was a package deal, According to Huertas, he was told he would have to take Kee-Borges boyfriend Terry Waller as his Assistant Chief if he was to get the permanent Chief's position. Huertas claims the message was the same from Kee-Borges and Hartford Mayor Pedro Segarra, the job was his if he took Waller.
Huertas wanted the job so desperately, he agreed to those terms and appointed Waller as his "acting" Assistant Chief. The rest is history.
The last year of the Hartford Fire Department , under Huertas, has been a disaster. Numerous arrests of firefighters, on duty and off, and unfortunately the first on duty death in 40 years.
The most troubling part though is that a man I thought was honorable has proven himself to be quite the opposite. I personally have been lied to directly by Huertas on a couple occasions and his less than honest ways extend all the way to the Mayor's Office. As an example, I recently spoke to Huerta at an event and he unveiled his plan to me for a board of inquiry into the death of Firefighter Kevin Bell. Huertas surprised me by telling me he had appointed Deputy Chief Dan Nolan to head the inquiry.
I think he noticed my surprise and he told me that he chose Nolan because he wanted to get to the truth. He told me that him and Nolan had "buried the hatchet" and it was all about getting to the truth of Bell's death. He even went so far as to tell me that they were having lunch that week to go over the inquiry. Nolan is not always known as a "team player" when it comes to the Administration, but if you want to get to the truth, there is no one better. Not surprisingly, the lunch never happened and later that week Huertas essentially shut down the inquiry , he claims on orders from City Hall.
Another Huertas glaring lie apparently occurred today. After the word of the McLoughlin incident surfaced today, apparently City Hall was caught off guard and somewhat embarrassed at the treatment of McLoughlin. Huertas apparently tried to explain his actions by saying that McLoughlin
refused to accept his phone calls as required on a paid suspension so he switched him to an unpaid suspension. Yet City Hall sources have stated that there is in fact an e-mail from McLoughlin to Huertas offering alternative phone numbers and contact information for use during his suspension.
I would think that at the very least, Segarra deserves honest answers from Huertas when questions are asked How can the Mayor have trust and confidence in any department head that doesn't
There is still a lot of information that has yet to come out regarding the Bell fatal fire , which will probably only further the lack of trust in the HFD administration.
This so called leadership or lack there of has only fostered the lack of accountability at HFD and has attributed to the tone of anything goes. This is a perfect example of what happens when you push politics into promotions and force people who are less than qualified through the ranks for personal or political gain.
It needs to end and a competent Chief needs to be found. The lives of our firefighters and our residents deserve it. A Chief needs to be identified and appointed immediately who isn't willing to sell his soul to the devil to get the position. Integrity matters and that needs to be the tone set through the entire Hartford Fire Department if these problems are going to be turned around and brought under control.
That change needs to begin at the top of HFD and the Huertas tenure needs to end immediately.