We always enter the first few months after an election with high hopes that the "new mayor" will succeed. We did it with Eddie Perez, he was going to be the savior for Hartford after years of City Managers and "weak", ceremonial Mayor's We all know how that ended up. His arrest after a Grand Jury investigation brought us to our next, unelected "Strong Mayor", Pedro Segarra. And we all also know how that ended up. A near Bankrupt City with a $63 million dollar plus unfinished baseball stadium sitting empty.
The next strong Mayor, Luke Bronin was also welcomed as the successor that was going to turn things around. It will be at least three and a half years before we really will know how this political saga ends, but so far it has been a very short honeymoon period with many already talking about a divorce.
Let me say right up front, the deck has been stacked against Bronin. But let me also say Bronin knew that when he ran for the office. Bronin's management style has been a disappointment up to this point. In a crisis situation, consensus and partnerships will do more to solve the problem than Bronin's "scorched earth" type style. Unfortunately we are seeing the scorched earth decision making repeatedly. Once or twice could indicate a bad day, but this looks more like a pattern of behavior.
Bronin's first major test was a bill be tried to move through the legislature to address Hartford's "dire" financial crisis. Senate Bill 464 was a major blunder for Bronin and whoever was (or is) advising him. It was almost like the newly appointed King had spoken and his loyal subordinates were going to accept the bill....or else.
We were told that talks had taken place between the Kingdom's stakeholders ( The Unions). Apparently those talks were more of a short conversation where the unwilling stakeholders were told what they were going to get rather than discussing a solution. That didn't work out well and Luke Bronin's first major task was a huge public failure
Next up, or somewhere in the mix with the Senate Bill mess, were talks for finishing a Stadium mess that Bronin inherited from an outgoing Segarra There may have been hope for the light at the end of the tunnel. All of the parties came together and a deal was hammered out to cover over ten million dollars in cost overruns. It wasn't the optimum deal for a project that many thought should have never begun in the first place. But, we had it, so we had to make the best of it.
Just as a side note, in order to have the Stadium shoved down our throats, the previous Mayor concocted a plan, or used a legal loophole, to take away the resident's right to a referendum to possibly vote the Stadium down.. Segarra created the "Hartford Stadium Authority" which could issue bonds to circumvent the financing and bonding requirement outlined by Hartford's Charter.
Mayor Bronin could have changed the make-up of the Stadium Authority, if for no other reason than I.Charles Matthews and the other members of the Authority were asleep at the switch and had been extremely poor stewards of the public trust and funds. Did $10 million dollars of cost overruns just happen to creep up and no one noticed? Did several critical deadlines for completion just jump out and no one realized the dates were unrealistic and unobtainable?
I have said it before, and I will say it again , the entire Stadium Authority should have been replaced by a competent group of people that have even a slightest idea of why they are there.
But again, the King has spoken. The stadium project has been shut down and most likely will tie the project up for some tie in court battles and extended litigation. Could no one have seen that baseball in Hartford was not going to happen this year, for whatever reason. (and I am sure there are many reasons which will eventually come out before a Judge)
Was throwing Centerplan off the result we wanted. Why not just swallow our pride and admit Hartford wouldn't be seeing a first pitch at Dunkin Donuts Stadium this year. If Centerplan or DoNO or whatever the name is sent an e-mail saying it was going to be another 60 days to complete, then deal with it.
And if there is more that we are not aware of, then tell us. We are not required to obey the King because he tells us to. Transparency in a democracy demands that we make our decisions based upon facts and circumstances laid out before us
Is throwing the developer off the project going to shorten that time period and get baseball being played quicker .An ultimatum to Centerplan to get it done in 60 days, no more nonsense, no more money, no more extensions might have been a better step. It is called making the best of a bad situation. But I think in the long run, the King has made a bad situation much, much worse
The King also has to think more about his Kingdom.
What about the 400 people that were planning on jobs at the Stadium this year. No one was going to get rich, but I just wonder how many of those 400 people may have turned down other jobs for summer employment based upon assurances that they would be employed at Yardgoats games
I don't think there are many Hartford small business people working on the Stadium, but even the handful that may have been, are we now forcing them out of business because their payments will be tied up in complex litigation for months or years now?
Maybe it is time for a reminder that a small percentage of people in Hartford ( a VERY small percentage) voted for a Mayor, we did not coronate a King or royal family.