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Tuesday, April 5, 2016


The past several days have been interesting. Over the weekend I received several calls from people that had been big supporters of Mayor Luke Bronin. Most of them were questioning what they called my blind support of our new Mayor Bronin.

After taking the weekend to think about it and make some phone calls of my own to people I trust, I agree they were right.

If Pedro Segarra or  even Eddie Perez were pulling the amateur stunts that Luke Bronin is pulling now, I would have been all over them. I think deep down I was probably hoping things would work out and Bronin was actually making bold, well thought out initiatives to get Hartford back on track. As I look back though, I should have seen more of the warning signs.

It is times like this when I really value my friendship and the "political" mentoring I received from John O'Connell. Like it or not, you always knew where you stood with John and he taught me much about Hartford's politics He was invaluable when it came to budget process and questions, but more importantly he was a student of politics. One of the best lessons he ever gave me is to learn how to count your votes.

If you had something that was important and wanted to move forward, you count your votes to gauge support. If you could persuade or lie up the votes, then move forward. If the votes weren't there and never were going to be there, regroup and build another plan. I thought Luke would know that, but apparently he never counted his votes on the City or the State level before pushing forward with what should have been an ill advised power grab.

And "Power Grab" is not my term, it was a term used by speaker after speaker last night to describe the "Financial Sustainability Bill". It was also disheartening to see all of Hartford's Unions made out to be such a big part of the financial problem at meeting after meeting conducted by Mayor Bronin. I would think that before going to the "nuclear" approach to solve Hartford's budget problems, the Unions would have all been called in to sit down and be part of the solution.

Last nights meeting and the Financial Sustainability Commission Bill was a major test for Bronin's Administration. It wasn't a test that Bronin passed, to be honest it was a resounding failure. It was kind of sad to watch Luke Bronin pushing the plunger to set off the blast for his first implosion. I would think it would have gone much further  for Bronin to admit the idea was ill conceived and say that he was requesting to pull the resolution and go back to the drawing board to start over again with a better plan that would work

It was also very troubling to listen to the next speaker to the microphone after Bronin. Melissa McCaw, Bronin's Director of Management and Budget. McCaw's answer to many of the questions asked by the Council were the same " I am sorry, I have only been here a couple of months and I will have to defer on the answer to that". EXCUSE ME! You have a half a billion dollar budget due in less than  two weeks and you are "deferring" on critical questions.

There were speakers from the public that came to the microphone that seemed more knowledgeable on Budget issues than Melissa McCaw, or at the very least much better prepared.

The Back Lives Matter protest seemed to really throw a curve to Bronin's rehearsed remarks and forced him off script. I am not sure why the BLM protest tried to ride the coattails of Hartford's Unions , the majority of whom are very supportive of the BLM movement, but it was the Unions night to air their concerns to the Council, Bot BLM. I doubt they garnered much support or sympathy for their cause through their actions

I and many others thought, or were led to believe that had already happened. According to testimony last night from Hartford's Union leaders, it did not happen and in fact the Unions had already put forward cost cutting suggestions, only to be pushed aside.

And what steps have been taken on the City level to attempt a fix of the budget problems, and whose decision was it to jump past any local solutions and go right to the State for help? I understand there are many moving parts here, including that legislative help from the State would need to take place during the Legislatures "short " session this year. The term "kick the can down the road" was used several times times during the night. Our days of can kicking really do need to end and we really do need to come up with sustainable solutions if we are ever going to see our grand list and Hartford's economy grow .

One of those was incumbent Councilwoman Cynthia Jennings asking why we couldn't continue to "Kick the can down the road". I guess that statement might explain why we are in the mess we are in now.

We are still operating in a Democracy though and those sustainable solutions need to come out of equal partnerships. A partnership with all stakeholders siting at the same table, having an honest and respectful dialogue and not through a "power grab" by a Financial Sustainability Commission, locking out the majority of Hartford's elected Council, its residents and its stakeholders.

The solution is within our reach, but we have to be willing to do the hard work to make it happen. And that includes making the difficult decisions, putting the political impact aside and doing what is best for Hartford.

It is what John O'Connell would have done.


Anonymous said...

As someone that works in municipal government in a Town close by to Hartford, let me tell you one thing. When Union's suggest that they have cost savings, 99.5% of the suggestions are completely non-workable. It almost always involves saving money by reducing the work given to contractors and bringing it back in house, of course on overtime. My experience is that Hartford would be better off to contract out even more and more.


But we don't know any of that until we at least sit down and start the conversation.

Benny Yungman said...

That was a great post. Bronin's plan was not well thought out. Take some time and do it right. There's money to be saved and a gigantic power grab was not a good first move. A chess game is never won on the first move.

Anonymous said...

There was no mention of council woman Thames.... How long before someone come for her for trying to fool the residents.

peter brush said...

having an honest and respectful dialogue
The problem is that those who are on the receiving end of government dollars have no concern for those of us on the paying end. Municipal employee unions prefer more employees with more pay and benefits. Beneficiaries of government largess from education to subsidized housing couldn't give a fig if the City goes broke. And local pols get elected by catering to those groups. Who represents the property owners?
John O'Connell could only get elected 20 years ago because of the minority representation statute. Today, his seat on Council is occupied by someone from the labor left WFP. It was not that wicked smart to change the charter from City Manager to Strong Mayor. The State has stacked the deck against municipalities, and the idea that we are self-governing is a joke.
I wasn't at the meeting last night. It may be that Bronin hasn't been particularly adroit in playing his hand, but the general idea of getting the budget OUT of the hands of our local pols as much as possible is attractive to me. Judge Killian, if I'm not mistaken, said here on the Brookman Blog just recently that he'd be doing pretty much what Bronin was talking about, but he'd bring in more outsiders.
If the Council could manage our affairs we'd not be in this position. It would be nice if it can now get its act together, but I'm not betting a nickle. The leftie pols are beholden to the unions and the wards of the State. More efficient collection of taxes and fines or selling a property or two is just not going to get the job done.

Anonymous said...

Where to start? The huge mistake was to make the unions the buggy men. And they are because they want as much as they can get. They are single-mindedly savages in pursuit of their goals. But Bro in must balance the pain and show that those on the top of the income level must suffer too. Council staff must be reduced in number and pay and benefits. (Gigi should never have been rehired after she took her pension.) In addition, his "no longer doing business as usual" doesn't seem to have had any effect. Still massive waste. At least in Publuc Works.

But this all must end with massive savings or I am outtta here, Jack. Why live in litter, junkies, drivers nodding out on junk d hitting poles. No no no. And on top of it, paying the highest taxes in the state? No no no.

Anonymous said...

You're correct, Brother Brush. That doesn't sound right,

J. Stan McCauley said...

The Luke Bronin warning signs have been blatant for a long time. It was my hope that people would take a deeper look at Luke. After all if I was willing to back Pedro there must have been some reason why. That said, your analysis was spot on. Fortunately for Hartford and the people that love this city (and the democratic process) his power grab did not work. - THIS TIME - Thank you for making the people of Hartford aware of the issue by breaking the story. You continue to be Hartford's investigative voice and the city is over all better informed because of your fearless work.

Julius said...

King Luke is strictly amateur hour. We have had 3 losers under the strong mayor form of government. It is time to reconsider making a change in our form of government.

Anonymous said...

Bronin must go, Bronin must go, Bronin must go, Bronin must go!!!!!!

Anonymous said...

The devil we didn't know (Bronin) was better than the devil we knew (Segarra).

Anonymous said...

The unions are greedy people, they are just looking to get more, more and much more. More money and more benefits.

Anonymous said...

Before we all judge Bronin if he must stay or must go, let's remember Pedro 'the Great' Segarra who brought us here: heavy debt, building a stadium that is not needed for tens of millions we don't even have, double downgrades by rating companies and much worse.

Anonymous said...

Kevin, why are you still protecting this guy by not posting the truth. If this was someone you didn't back it would be bombs away. You are a fraud yourself.


How am I protecting him? Did you read the post or just what you wanted to read?

Anonymous said...

Why is no one addressing the amount of hand outs we give out to people. That is a huge problem!! There are many areas where staying on welfare and getting as much money out of the government while doing NOTHING is passed down from generation to generation. It should not be that comfortable living as a permanent leech off the government. Hartford, and Ct as a whole, should copy Maine. I know the population is not comparable. However, the state instituted dramatic changes to its general welfare programs. You actually had to complete weekly job training and community service. If you did not show for either your benefits were taken away for 3 years. The number of people on aid went down dramatically!!! Imagine if you actually had to do something to collect a comprehensive benefit plan from the government. Maybe even add drug testing to those receiving aid. Even if many stayed on the government hand out plan at least areas where most are on aid would be cleaned and litter would be picked up by those getting absurd benefits and paying 50$ a month for apartments. How has none of this been brought up in ways to save the city money. We should be focused on how to make it more attractive to work then to sit on your ass and collect money from the city and state for the rest of your life.

Anonymous said...

Kevin, agree with 2:42 pm

You would do everything in your power to bring down anyone you don't support. This failed legislation would have done more harm to the city of Hartford than the last two administrations combined. You have definitely tried to underplay the seriousness of Bronins' blunder and how abusive his grab at power would have been.

Anonymous said...

How is the city going to address the number of employees leaving because of it's new mayor!!

Anonymous said...

After talking with a senior DPW leader and others, it seems the mayor's wife is directing personnel and business decisions. You may want to check with your contacts who have much better information. I realize where your loyalties are and have no issue in that regard.

From a professional standpoint it is important to realize that the mayor's wife dictating to various departments for personal reasons will undermine attempts for the mayor to build credibility with the unions and other leaders. When a leaders says that he or she needs to change direction because the mayor's wife has other priorities, they need to terminate a person because she said so, or she emails leadership with daily to-do's, then the city is in a world of hurt.


My loyalties are to the truth and the facts. If improper things are occurring, and I can verify them, I will address that.